Dark Girls is co-directed and produced by Bill Duke (Duke Media) and D. Channsin Berry (Urban Winter Entertainment) the film explores the deep-seated bias and attitudes about skin color; particularly dark skinned women, outside of and within the Black American culture.
As a dark skinned African American woman, my first thought was not to go see the film. But then I thought, how many other film bloggers have the advantage point I do from which to discuss the film.
Duke and Berry take this topic of skin tone and its psychological effects on the individual and society in a number of different directions: from it's origins in slavery- where light skinned slaves were singled out to work in the house and the dark skinned ones outside; to the fact that this is an international and global outlook – those in African countries, and other countries like Panama and Cuba all have a prejudice about darker skin. A lot of the interviews centered around the topic of dating, marriage and children. Many dark skin black males are more attracted to light or white skin women. Many dark skin women are afraid to marry a dark skin male because they don't want to have very dark babies (a concern I've always had). Dermatologists are interviewed about skin whitening products and the irony of tanning salons. Children are interviewed to show just how early we are taught value is based on how you look, something we all know from the media, but brought home even further for those born with a darker hue. The stereo-type that dark skinned men are more likely to be criminals and dark skinned women may only be viewed as sexual objects is also touched on. I was really glad for the uplifting look at Michelle Obama, as a positive representative of a dark skinned African American woman.
I kinda got stuck on one aspect of the film that still baffles me – where are all these white males that supposedly appreciate, are attracted to, and treat a “sistah” like a queen? I've only had the opportunity to date one man outside of my race, and I had to find him on an internet dating site for interracial couples. I'm attractive, still holding it together, intelligent, curvy. I mostly move in and around white circles. Yet I don't get asked out by white men.
I am happy to say that I have never experienced jealousy or bias attitudes within my own family. I have three sisters, all varying degrees of shades from 2 steps to 4 or 5 steps lighter than me. True, as soon as I show someone a picture of my family, they can't stop themselves from remarking on the disparity of skin tones; but if I hold any resentment towards my sisters or if they hold any prejudice against me, than it's hidden very well. Am I patting myself on the back for being very well adjusted - No. Am I saying my family is completely functional and mentally healthy - Hell no! But for reasons unknown, color prejudice has never been one of our issues.
Viola Davis is interviewed in the documentary. Discussing her childhood and her journey of finding self-worth. It reminded me of an article I read in The Daily Beast featuring Viola Davis. The article discusses the plight of the black actress in Hollywood; in which Charlize Theron tries to bolster Davis' self-confidence, completely missing the point that it's not how Davis sees herself, but how "Hollywood" sees her.
D. Channsin Berry was in attendance at this preview screening. He discussed the making of the film; the deep impact these woman's stories had on him; the other side of the coin - their next documentary called The Yellow Brick Road. And he attempted to take questions from the audience. I say attempted because no one had a question, instead over 50 people lined up to give their testimony on this subject and its ripple effects.
(Click below link for Q & A posted to Youtube)
Tinsel & Tine (Reel & Dine)
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