Painting of Dido Belle with her cousin Elizabeth, formerly attributed to Johann Zoffany
Painting of Dido Belle with her cousin Elizabeth, formerly attributed to Johann Zoffany

I am human, I consider nothing human alien to me.
Terence or Publius Terentius Afer
Playwright of the Roman Republic of North African decent

Amma Asante has done it! For all us colored girls who clung to our Jane Austen, Bronte sisters, and Louisa Mae Alcott novels and saw ourselves in Elizabeth Bennett, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, Jane Eyre, Jo, Meg, Beth, Amy. For the girls who understand, love is a many splendid thing, but the money thing can not only be a heart breaker, but a deal breaker. For colored girls who see “Downton Abbey” as “modern” and can’t wait for the next PBS “Masterpiece Theatre” mini-series. Who’d give up HBO for more BBC.

But we’re not snobs.

For colored girls who are called “snobs” and “acting white” for running to the next Austen, Bronte, or period feature film on the opening weekend instead of a date night at a 3D blockbuster movie. And please lower your voice when I’m watching my “Sense and Sensibility” DVD for the 20th time.

It didn’t phase us that these women on recreating a narrative on screen were, white, British, or European and very different from ourselves. We connected with the characters’ humanity, struggles, and most important the power of their stories. At the same time we always knew our stories were powerful and were part of the human story even though we never saw anyone who resembled us. We knew all along there were colored girls in our past who were free, and brave, and beautiful.

Amma Asante has done it! with her film “Belle.”

Belle – based on the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle. Read more about the real Dido Elizabeth Belle story here.

Note: Even before “Belle” Wall to Wall Productions (UK) produced several “period reality” series that brought 21st century people into the living past. Oprah featured “Colonial House” on her show and even made an historical pop call with her friend Gail King. “The Regency House Party” (2004) was set in Jane Austen’s time. Committed to historical accuracy of the period, and after unsuccessful attempts of the ladies and gentleman to form a match a la The Bachelorette 1812, “The Regency House Party” invited another guest to the party — Miss Samuels.

—For Colored Girls Who’ve Considered Jane Austen… (Part 1)