5 Life Lessons I Learned from 'The Color Purple'
In December, The Color Purple will celebrate 36 years of changing the landscape of Black movies and how our stories are told. Based on Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, the film shows the various problems Black women faced in the 1930’s. We were also introduced to Whoopi Goldberg, whose portrayal of Celie Harris Johnson, earned her a Golden Globe award and Oscar nomination for Best Actress. The film also graced us with Oprah Winfrey who portrayed Sofia.
Since 1985, The Color Purple has been adapted to a Broadway production, and will soon become a movie musical. Even now, the film still resonates with audiences. I can truly say that no other film has impacted my life more. It places Black women’s pain on full display and highlights our strength and resilience—even under the absolute worst of circumstances.
No one can forget their reaction when Celie finally stands up to Mister. I’ve seen this film at least 50 times, and still cry when Celie and Nettie are reunited.
“Me and you, us never part. Makidada. Me and you, us have one heart. Makidada. Ain’t no ocean, ain’t no sea. Makidada. Keep my sister away from me.”
I was thirteen years old when the film was released. However, I can pin-point much of my self-discovery over the years to the many times I’ve watched it. My favorite five quotes from the movie taught me valuable lessons about Black womanhood, faith, and self-love.
“Don’t let them run over you…you got to fight.”
Nettie offers Celie some sisterly advice, when she comes to live with her and Mister. She tells her that she has to stand up yourself, and can’t let Mister or the kids run over her. These words inspired me to always let my voice be heard when I feel like it's necessary.
“Nothin’ but death will keep me from it.”
When Mister throws Nettie out of the house, because she wouldn’t submit to him, it’s one of the most gut-wrenching scenes of the film. It’s here that we really see the bond between these sisters. Before leaving, Nettie gives this declaration to Celie. This inspired me to never let anything stop me from doing something that matters to me. Nothing can as long as I have breath.
“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field and don’t notice it.”
Celie and Shug Avery are walking through a field of beautiful, purple flowers and Shug makes this revelation. I took it to heart because my favorite color is purple. I’ve learned that God wants us to appreciate the beauty He has created for us, no matter what we're facing. It's His special way of telling us that everything is going to be okay.
“Until you do right by me, everything you think about is going to crumble.”
With these words, Celie breaks the cycle of abuse from Mister and finally stands up for herself. I interpreted this line as a sign that I don’t have to carry the weight of people who have caused my pain; God is going to fight my battles and do what I can't do.
“I’m poor, Black, I may even by ugly, but dear God, I’m here! I’m here!”
At 13, I had very low self-esteem and thought I was super awkward. What a victory statement this was by Celie, who, up until this point, had spent her life feeling unworthy and invisible. It reminded me that even with our flaws and imperfections, and even how we view ourselves, we are in this life for a reason.