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In 1971, Ntozake Shange adapted her Zulu/African name that replaced her real name Paulette Williams as a rebellion and a rejection from her middle-class upbringing. Ntozale Shange, meaning “she who comes with her own things” and “who walks like a lion,” respectively is born in October 18, 1948.Shange lived the American dream only for a short period of time—for the wealth and cultural background can never protect her from experiencing racism at the age of eight. In St. Louis, she is integrated n the school system of the all-white school. She is not prepared for the kind of school who will mold her to a life full of alienation and frustration. Her gender became an obstacle since it limited her to lots of things just because she was a woman. The gender issues she felt during her formative years translated into having an anti-female aura later on.Five years after their stay in St. Louis, Missouri, the whole family returned to New Jersey. She continued honing her craft as a writer—writing short stories and poems to express herself while divulging her feelings toward the whole world and the society she is into. Criticisms flowed like water since her works are dominated with a “black voice,” and eventually discouraged from pursuing her dream, her outlet of emotions, her only companion—the pen and paper. With her four suicide attempts, she managed to continue her life and devote her time to writing and performing arts.She stayed in California after being a graduate form the University of California. During her residence in California, Shange immediately discovered the cathartic effect of the fusion of writing and performing, while redefining her being as a woman determined to declare and disseminate the power and cultural heritage of black women throughout the community (Nelson 422).Ntozake Shane’s proved herself to the limelight in the late 1970s. Four of her best-known dramatic works became the start of her career being a playwright. Her most popular work, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Not Enuf, began as a cycle of seven poems in 1974, and by 1976 it had reached Broadway. Boogie Woogie Landscapes appeared as a one-woman show in 1978 and in play form in 1979. Spell # 7: Geechee Jibara Quik Magic Trance Manual For Technologically Stressed Third World People first appeared in 1979 (Olaniyan 172). It gave way for the mainstream theater to acknowledge the presence of black dramatists in the field of theater arts. The smash hit For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Not Enuf won an Obie award in 1977. This breakthrough inspired female playwrights and other scholarly publications to feature black theater arts in the late ‘70s. Her revolutionary pieces about racism and gender issues have been brought around the globe and translated in different languages. This breakthrough started the advocacy for black women in the society.Social MilieuThe 1970s is a decade for the disintegration and decline of the civil rights movement. Court decisions combined with the laws, hoping to put an end to the segregation in the community of white Americans and black Americans did not materialize. As whites fled to the suburbs, businesses relocated outside the city, making it more difficult for African Americans to find work. At the same time the whole American economy is shifting from a manufacturing to a service base; blue-collar jobs are steadily decreasing as white-collar ones became more plentiful—with a requirement for technical skills and a high educational attainment. Most of the underprivileged African Americans are unable to qualify with these requirements. Thus, the black Americans are trapped in an unstable and fluctuating economic crisis bound with a deteriorating physical environment due to poverty (Olson 91).During the 1970s, African-American leaders turned attention to the issue of poverty and the prevalent institutional racism to be reformed by the civil rights movements and advocacies. The Civil Rights Act of 1968 had eliminated many forms of housing discrimination, but African-American leaders concluded that if school integration are to wait for integrated neighborhoods, it will probably never happen. They believed that “busing” children is the only way to overcome segregation in schools and second-class education for African-American children. However, opponents of the “busing” claimed that it will only “disrupt the lives of children and their families.” The Supreme Court, mediating with the two factions, decided to continue the “busing” since earlier plans of desegregation did not make any improvement in the educational opportunities of the black Americans (Olson 92).The issue on sexism, which is defined as the attitudes toward women because of their gender, became to be a social problem in the ‘70s. Since black families are usually headed by women, the discrimination is much greater compared to a white female American woman. Discrimination varies from employment to bank loans and the administration of appropriate justice. Black women also experience disproportional levels of mental and physical abuse from black men because of more frequent institution barriers and frustrations experienced by black men compared to that of the white men (Hill 45).The civil rights movement joined other prominent groups since they constitute “only 12 percent of the American population,” hence the force to fight with the drive of equality with these white Americans is fair and influential. They included themselves in the Democratic Party, and labor union leaderships. They slowly won the loyalty of a large number of white Americans in this process. People with fair and just minds will have a natural feeling that “keeping an individual from the right to vote,” win a position from the public office, or go to any school or university on the basis of ethnic group association or race is deemed to be wrong and unjust (Olson 92).Analysis of For Colored GirlsTheatrical performances are not always based on the theoretical formulations of the dramatists. It becomes a process of capturing an identity and bringing it to life. The identity of the characters may reflect the real character of the dramatist, and in the process of conceptualizing the character, the African-American culture and nationalism emerges deep in the roots of Ntozake Shange.Shange’s literary works represent the tortured moment of becoming itself, the moment of emergence and discovery of the true meaning of living. The late 1970’s makes it clear that Shange’s work as a playwright, especially in for colored girls, represented a moment of crucial importance and truth in the black American history. The process of becoming is Shange’s subject, “our struggle to become all that is forbidden by our environment, all that is forfeited by our gender, all that we have forgotten.”Much in the history of for colored girls is contributed to the discovery of open form, which Shange used in this collection of poems. One example in the poem for colored girls, she initially visualized the women as anonymous entities of all the cities in America. Women belonged to anyone, as how the society tells them to be. The African-American women are to be nameless, without their own voices for a very long time and now regained their selves as they saw one another living in a different cultural ideology and breaking the traditional stereotypes of women of color. They are beginning to compose themselves with hegemony, with a dictation in their own lives. The unpredictability of the poem for colored girls is evident from the beginning. The dialectic performance of two cultural tongues conjured in a single being is one of the unpredictabilities of the poem. The process of self-expression is another unpredictability of the poem. From the use of the art of dancing to the use of the whole poem itself is a transition from one form of art to another. Even the word “choreopoem,” meaning a piece that is part dance and part language, was coined to describe a kind of writing that “fits in between all” genres and does justice to “human beings’ first impulses,” which “are to move and to speak.”Shange’s use of the word colored represented the other cultural groups as well, not only the African American. Her focus in this selection is the relationship between a black male and a black female, and how oppression became a part of the black American history. There is a paradox about Shange’s poetry, in general. Her works are inscribed with the tensions of a very specific time and place, which is during the 1970s. Indeed, we can see that she also spoke for herself in this selection.This selection also contains a great deal of violent behavior with regard to the oppressive white American culture. The hostility can be seen with the attack on the white English such as:i cant count the number of time i have viscerally wanted to attack deform n maim the language that i waz taught to hate myself in…. The mess of my fortune to be born black & English-speaking…(Schlueter 198). This created the verbal distortions that took place in the whole poem for colored girls.Shange’s drama decisively participates in the urgency for freedom and empowerment of women of color. She translated her madness in the poem for colored girls while taking into consideration the young adults and other cultural minorities to be affected with her dramatic composition. The use of two languages as a means of switching from one cultural perspective to another became suggestive to her audiences. The dialogic character is an engagement of the characters to the indefatigable space between the American culture and the African culture (Olaniyan 121). In effect, this translates in the construction of gender-informed cultural identity, which Shange used as a point of departure for her written account.In the poem for colored girls, there is no one and concrete result to the process of becoming. The unity of the characters, as projected in their dance, established a connection between and among the characters but it does not necessarily mean that they will have the same endings. Therefore, there is no one unifying end. The process of freedom through self-empowerment is the process, in which all the characters are engaged.  What is more, communal expression may well be the only outlet for a certain range of feelings, according to Shange: “in addition to the obvious stress of racism in poverty/afro-american culture…has minimized its emotional vocabulary to the extent that admitting feelings of rage, defeat, frustration is virtually impossible outside a collective voice.” Shange’s dramas wander through a maze of personal and collective experience, only to coalesce in a chant that unites the subjective and the inter-subjective (Olaniyan 136). The women of colored girls chant how they have found god in themselves and how they love one another, while dancing together, as a sign of unity for a common belief—freedom, power, and fulfillment, without the oppressive forces to stop them.Shange portrays black men as shallow, ominous beasts and accuse her of neglecting to dramatize the material reasons for oppression. This oppression came from frustrations and insecurities to white men. In retaliation, black men engage in maltreatment of their wives and passing on their personal burdens to the black women. With Shange’s use of dance, in conjunction with drama, it created something exclusively for women alone, with the control of their own pleasure and solidarity apart from the black men.None of these endings, including the discovery of “god” and the journey towards spirituality within one’s self, the appreciation and happiness of being black, or the urge to be like a white American woman can dictate the future of the characters (Schlueter 199). It is only the beginning of another journey towards the self-discovery of their destinies and progressive futures. It is an escape for the emptiness and alienation as long as one realizes the potentials of individual effort driven by suffering and despair. It only became a meeting point for them to realize that there is another world in front of them, self-existent and revolutionary, in a way that they themselves can choose to be a part of it.

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