Last night, Oprah’s, OWN network held me captive for 3 hours, but this was not a negative captivation, instead my mind became consumed with feelings, memories, and attitudes of what it is like to be a dark skin girl in America. This topic explored an issue that rarely makes it out of the face to face, phone and skype discussions between my closet best friend and I, Both of us were blessed with glowing dark skin. Yet, we typically are only able to find solace in each other as we pour out and freely discuss the daily attitudes, experiences and prejudices we face being dark skin. But tonight, that conversation was brought to the forefront as Oprah premiered the highly anticipated, “Dark Girls” documentary…
Dark Girls is a documentary exploring the deep-seated biases and attitudes about skin color particularly dark skinned women, outside of and within the Black American culture. Dark Girls is a fascinating and controversial documentary film that goes underneath the surface to explore the prejudices that dark-skinned women face throughout the world. It explores the roots of classism, racism and the lack of self-esteem within a segment of cultures that span from America to the most remote corners of the globe. Women share their personal stories, touching on deeply ingrained beliefs and attitudes of society, while allowing generations to heal as they learn to love themselves for who they are. (DarkGirlsMovie.com)
From the moment the documentary premiered tweets began flooding in, emotional facebook statuses, and the blogs soon followed. So here at BWIB, we went through an array of compelling posts some with a positive reaction and others who thought the documentary was lacking, and brought them all to you in one.
–As I assume most of us were last night, I sat Indian style in front of my television screen. I nodded my head and wiped my tears for an hour and a half, while I related to the stories that unfolded during the documentary “Dark Girls.” First let me start by saying how grateful I am to the OWN network for releasing such a raw wound for the world to recognize; not just as a cultural issue, but also as a global infestation of destructive and fatal thinking. These women were so courageous to share their pain with us viewers. I commend them.
As an African American woman, I sat in front of my Television and let their pain resonate with me. I willingly took on the embarrassment of her being nicknamed “Tar Baby.” I embraced her as she shared wanting to bathe in bleach. I listened as we expressed why we loathed not only ourselves but also the culture we were born into. I bawled for us. Let this cycle come to an end.
It is this old thinking that confines African American women to press our hair, hide our bodies or even bleach our skin. We believe we must do these things not from our own organic choice but so that we may feel we stand a chance in society without dire repercussions. We are constantly taught that whom we are is a distraction to the world’s contorted idea of beauty and intellect. However, we are so much more than the stereotypical boundaries that are set on beauty. We are powerful and limitless the moment we smile.– (ForHarriet.com)
Here’s a different take on the reactions on social media to “Dark Girls”, and click on the link to see what the author thought “Dark Girls” was missing.
“What I witnessed on social media last night was no different from what I’ve experienced time and time again. Whether in-person or on-line, conversations about skin color often transform into scenes that look like they were taken straight out of School Daze. While many dark-skinned women appreciate the acknowledgement of a pain that feels impossible to heal, others resent what feels like new picking at old sores, while many others reject the repetition of personal reflections that seemingly suggest that all dark-skinned women have issues. Some light-skinned women feel overlooked, their experiences seldom recognized as if their lightness somehow protects them from any pain. But if any of them dare say so, they are quickly and effectively dismissed if not silenced. Brown-skinned sisters who aren’t so light but aren’t that dark are somehow made to reflect on their own skin color as much lighter or much darker than it actually is, just so they can be a part of the conversation. Either that or they watch from the sidelines and remind us every now and again that we continue to push them to the sidelines. And where are the men? Either shaking their heads or being blamed for having us caught out there like so. And like clockwork, there are always more than a handful of brothers willing to offer their unsolicited opinions about their “preference.” In the end, we all head back to our corners exasperated and exhausted.
For nearly two hours, I watched dark-skinned women, faces tear-stained and emotions raw, testify about all the many and painful ways that colorism has damaged their beings. Unfortunately what I didn’t see were any of the myriad ways that the conversation could have and should have been nuanced. Yes, I am a dark-skinned woman, who was once a dark-skinned little girl who grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana and therefore knows all too well how colorism can break you if you let it. But I didn’t let it. And what Dark Girls was missing was that voice. The voice of the confident, assured, self-affirming, self-loving, “I wish you would tell me I’m not the ish” sister, who although she can relate to the pain refuses to stay stuck in it and has somehow figured out how to find beauty in her reflection. We needed that voice, not to distract from or to negate the experiences of pain, but rather to balance them with the capacity for triumph, if the purpose of the dialogue is in fact our healing. If we truly want to heal, we have to stop talking at each other and start talking with each other. And to do that, we need all voices at the table – dark, light, and every shade in-between – without the “vs.” While not with equal measure, colorism does impact us all.” (Clutch.com)
And the conversation even prompted, TV and film star, Tika Sumpter on the film industry, her own dark skin, and breaking the color barrier in Hollywood.
“I was recently reminded of my childhood as I watched the amazing documentary Dark Girls. My heart broke just listening to the stories of so many young girls with brown skin traumatized by the cruel and hurtful views of those around them. I experienced that same emotion when I began my role as Raina Thorpe on the popular CW show Gossip Girl a few years back. I was truly unprepared for the tremendous impact I’d have while on that show. Each week I’d get the tons of letters from mothers, grandmothers, and young girls literally thanking me for simply existing. They wrote me saying they’d never seen a woman that looked like me on television before. Which really meant they’d never seen anyone that looked like them before. And it got much deeper than that. Some fans even remarked that they’d never witnessed any woman with my skin color speak the way I spoke, have a successful career the way I had on that show, or carry themselves in such a ladylike manner. Translation: in the very make-believe land of television and movies, women with darker skin aren’t smart enough to speak proper English or capable enough to be employed with a six-figure salary. And we most certainly can’t be ladylike. What complete nonsense!
Legends such as Cicely Tyson and Beah Richards were well before my time, so I didn’t see women like me on television as a kid, either. Still, I never felt discouraged by that reality, and I certainly never believed I couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to follow my dreams as a result.
Still, I always knew there were far too many other people who saw my beauty and embraced every part of me with open arms to think twice about what was said. It hurts me to know that so many young girls today are growing up without that same realization and reassurance. I also regret that so many are forced to seek their self-worth between the pages of mainstream magazines or in the background of a rap music video. I’d like to think that seeing someone like me on their televisions every week gives them some hope that things are changing slowly but surely.” (The Daily Beast)
So what were your thoughts? Comment below!