Oprah recently announced on her Twitter page that she would be bringing the D. Channsin Berry and Bill Duke directed documentary film ‘Dark Girls’ to her OWN channel. Dark Girls released in 2011, is a documentary exploring the deep-seeded biases and attitudes about skin colour particularly dark skinned women, outside of and within the Black American culture. Although the film focused on the Black American experience, the subject matter is applicable to all cultures where lighter is often times preserved as brighter and ‘righter’.
In November 2011, Dark Girls was screened at the first ever Antigua Barbuda Film Festival. I attended the screening with a friend and sat quietly in a theatre packed with men, women and children, as a strong reminder of my whole childhood experience played out across the screen. After the movie was finished, Bill and Channisn, who were both present for the screening, conducted an emotional discussion that saw audience members sharing horrific stories of bullying.
Many of us are adult women, but there is that little girl that walks, laughs, sleeps and cries with us wherever we go. She sits on our shoulders as a reminder that ultimately we just want to be loved and accepted for who we are, and not what everyone ‘thinks’ we should be. I wish that self-acceptance was the only ingredient needed to build confidence, but the reality is that we do not exist in a bubble. It is important that as a community we take ownership of the messages we communicate to our young girls and boys. Little girls are learning the wrong definitions of beauty. Little boys are being taught the wrong lessons about manhood. I wish there was no need for Dark Girls. I wish I didn’t have to sit and watch little girls and women recap the heartbreaking experiences of hate and disdain towards their chocolate complexion. I wanted to yell at the screen ‘Enough’. Instead, I sat there thinking this is some bullshit! I am in my 30s! This ignorant mindset should have been over and done with my now.
Although the movie focuses more on the damaging messages experienced by dark-skinned women, rather than the effective ways we could change the dynamics that allow such thoughts to thrive, it acts as a reminder that although slavery was abolished many years ago, we continue to be held captive by the very low value we place on our identity.
Attitudes prompt action, so it is our responsibility to change our thoughts. Dark Girls will premiere on OWN this June, and I suggest if you haven’t seen it as yet, that you do so when it airs. Check out the trailer below.