Dark Girls (A documentary)

Earlier tonight on the OWN  Network (Oprah’s network), there was a documentary that aired called “Dark Girls” that addressed the issue of colorism mostly within the black community, while briefly addressing the issue in other communities such as Asian communities and the tanning phenomenon amongst the white community. Throughout the documentary, I experienced an array of emotions from sad to amused to grateful:

Sad: It really broke my heart to hear those women’s testimonies about how they truly hated themselves at a young age, and over something as superficial as skin color. Although I describe skin color as “superficial” I am not belittling it because even though it shouldn’t be a big deal, I know that it is. Children are impressionable and vulnerable and to hear women saying that as children they would ask their mom to put bleach in their bath water just…troubled my spirit to say the least. Self-love is one of the most important things you can learn in this lifetime and it is imperative that the foundation is instilled into children. So to hear and see that young, beautiful little girls were wanting and willing to harm themselves just to lighten their skin is a disgusting representation of just how far we have to go as a community. There is a deep rooted history that was touched upon in this documentary, unfortuantely they barely scratched the surface. [For one example of colorism at work in literature see “Plum Bum” by Jessie Fauset]

Amused: The black men that were interviewed in the documentary describing their “preferences” toward either light-skinned women or dark-skinned women or both slightly amused me. I understand that a huge part of black women dealing with this color issue is the fact that black men will diminish darker skinned women. Often times via twitter I come across dark-skinned women hate that generalizes them as ugly and undesirable by anyone, and I know that is not true. What I found amusing were the bogus reasoning behind it: “They’re argumentative.” “They have lower self esteem (I wonder why)” “They would look weird next to me (says a dark skinned male)” There is nothing wrong with having a preference in who you are attracted to. Honestly, when it comes to men on television and movies I have a huge preference and attraction to white men (Hey Ryan Gosling 😉 ). However, why is it that it seems with black men they rebuke dating black women (specifically darker skinned women) at the expense of those women. I can love me some good looking white men…withOUT bashing my fellow black men, why can’t black men do the same? Also, another thing I found amusing was that I felt that by having the constant back and forth focus between what black men desire in women it portrayed an unnecessary message to those watching: that how others, particularly males, see you is very important when it comes to how you see yourself. I am not denying the importance of feeling wanted and desired by another, especially someone you may be attracted to, however, it gave me the impression that as a black woman, a big part of how I see myself is determined by how men see me, and I don’t think they made it clear enough in the documentary that what is most important and what truly matters is how one sees herself. The significance placed on the males who were describing their physical feature desires was a little over done in my opinion and should have been combated with more stories of discovering self-love without the justification from someone else, especially a male. 

Grateful: This documentary also made me feel very grateful that I grew up in an environment where I did not have instances early in childhood that made me come home and wish I were lighter or anything other than what I was. It wasn’t until I got older that I even discovered that amongst my peers and generation people still cared about what shade of black they were. It baffled me. I learned to love myself at a young age because I was surrounded by people who loved me and showed me they loved me for me, while my skin color was never a factor. In being grateful, I want to spread this same environment to younger children I come in contact with. I want it so by the time they do come across colorism they already are so sure of themselves that it is a concept and not something they are battling with. I am grateful that I was able to slip beneath the cracks of feeling ashamed of my darker skintone, and to show my gratitude, it is my duty to make sure more darker skinned girls do the same. Everyone should know that they are beautiful, and to those people who do not think you are beautiful because of the color of your skin: fuck you. Those people are not anyone you would want in your life regardless. 

Those are my thoughts on the documentary. I felt it was a good conversation starter because in order for these problems to be remedied, they need to be discussed. 

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23 comments

  1. Pingback: Olay said it best! Love the skin you’re in! | Live.Life.On.100
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  5. twitter.com · September 20, 2014

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  6. Mariposaoro · June 3, 2015

    Its a a shame that black people still don’t learn to act better.. I’m 29, and I’ve heard just about every ridiculous notion concerning women my shade and darker!! We’re too dark, we’re jealously of pale skinned women, nobody will want you… And I live in England, of Caribbean descent!

    Things have come to a head for me to the point where I no longer exclusively fancy black men anymore.. If they want to chase other females with weak excuses against us, then too bad!! I’m not going to be there for a bm to use ‘later on’ when they don’t have much else to offer except their self hating black self!!

    • Yeah, it can be very frustrating, and honestly I know where that mindset stems from: I understand the history of it, I understand the images that BM and everyone are fed to believe what is beautiful and what is not, and though it’s ridiculous to us, I think that it really requires critical thinking to see above what is being told to us by the media, and to recognize why and how these beauty standards and beliefs are what we still believe today. Frankly, not many people know how to critically think, or have a desire to learn the history in order to unlearn these prejudices we have inherited. That however is not my concern any longer, I just simply recognize it as ignorance and anyone who is going to strongly feed into it without questioning it, isn’t someone I would date anyway. Luckily, that ignorance is put on blast half the time so it’s very easy to avoid people like that when it comes to dating.

      • Mariposaoro · June 5, 2015

        Yep.. Got it in one.. I wouldn’t blame media for the way black people choose to behave.. Critical thinking and black people just don’t happen enough anymore.. Those people have either been squeezed out to underground groups, or simply dead.. Malcolm X and Black Panthers spring to mind!

      • Mariposaoro · June 5, 2015

        How is Cambridge going?

      • I am currently in Malaysia actually! I’ve been in SE Asia for about 9 months now 🙂 it’s hot here but a great area to travel around

      • Mariposaoro · June 5, 2015

        Cool!!! What are you studying?

      • I’m teaching English here and traveling around ^_^ I document it on blackgirlwander.wordpress.com. SE Asia is full of culture and a very different environment that I feel I’m constantly learning a lot from

      • Mariposaoro · June 6, 2015

        That’s good.. Very good!! I did teaching voluntarily for a few months… Best experience of my life. Living abroad like you are would do wonders for me right now. You will learn so much from this experience, the skills that you will pick up and discover.. The people..

      • If you are able, I would definitely recommend teaching abroad, like you said it is a wonderful opportunity–living outside the US for the first time, away from my family for an extended period of time, being in a completely different culture, etc. all of that has impacted me for the better. I learn from everything and everyone around me–especially my students–and I couldn’t be more grateful to have this opportunity right now!

      • Mariposaoro · June 6, 2015

        You must be picking up the Malaysian language! Or bits and pieces..

      • I know some bits and pieces, my roommates speak English and I teach English so it’s difficult to get practice speaking Malay actually but I can order food flawlessly haha

      • Mariposaoro · June 7, 2015

        Hahaha!! OK.. You’ll probably pick up more of the language! It must be a colourful place!

  7. Mariposaoro · June 3, 2015

    Reblogged this on Mariposaoro's Blog and commented:
    How sad that colorism still affects the black community!!

  8. rubiredsaid · June 6, 2015

    I was bemused by the whole concept of people using colour to decide whether you’re nice or not.
    I have been incensed for years in relation to the big divide and racism among our own black people.
    I have even dumped a man for letting me know that it is because I am “brown”, why he fancied me!
    Now I say to all black women that we must love and respect ourselves, not let our fellow men abuse us until they are in a tight spot or useless.
    Women do it too but time will catch them, I swear!

    • I agree, it all stems from the stereotypes and images we are constantly bombarded with. When you see a villain in a movie they are often portrayed as darker, while the hero is often portrayed as light. I mean, even in animation if you watch The Lion King, Scar has black hair and like what lion has black hair?! But it still doesn’t excuse people, especially black people, from seeing through the BS and perpetuating it. I’ve had to stop guys as well, even if they’re giving me a compliment, that somehow divides me or makes me out to be “better” than other black women based on my appearance, and it made me completely disinterested because now I knew how they thought

  9. rubiredsaid · June 6, 2015

    Keep up the good topics and thanks for your response!

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