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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the choreopoem is trying to explore the different dimensions behind being a modern woman of color.  The reality is that identity in the modern setting is defined through many different prisms.  On one hand, there is race, while on another gender helps to define one's identity.  Class and psychological experience also have a huge impact on how one sees themselves and how others see them.  Shange's primary point is to explore how these forces converge and coincide with one another.  Identity does not have to be reduced to one element and done so at the cost of another.  The choreopoem embraces the idea that the more one understands about these forces of socialization and narrative construction, the better off one will be in understanding themselves.  In the end, the poet/ choreographer herself seems to be calling for this stronger sense of understanding and of clarity in order for one to be a better advocate for one's own needs:  "When I die, I will not be guilty...of having left a generation of girls behind thinking that anyone can tend to their emotional health other than themselves."

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