Dark Girls Documentary: Review

Several months ago I blogged about the upcoming documentary Dark Girls that was on tour screening at various locations around the country. Last week they held a screening at the Apollo theater in Harlem which I had a chance to see.

Sidebar: It’s been a while since I’d been inside of the Apollo and knowing it’s an old theater, I forgot how tight the seats are. Anyone who is tall or plus size would be well advised to sit in an aisle seat if you attend any events there.

Like many darker skinned women, I can recount instances where I experienced bias and feelings of not measuring up to what was considered the standard in mainstream society; that of the coveted light skinned, long hair, neither of which describes me. I don’t recall my earliest memory of bias, but I think what is most poignant in this movie is showing how early in life those messages are imprinted in a child’s psyche. Whether it comes from family, friends, media.

The documentary was a mix of interviews of scholars, ordinary folks, and featured actress Viola Davis, who recently starred in the movie The Help. Each gave an account on how their experiences of prejudice affected their self-esteem. Also shown was that well known scene of the young black girl interviewed by a child psychologist who when asked who is the prettiest when shown pictures of children with varying skin tones, points to the white child. Then when asked which child is the ugliest, points to the darkest skinned child. No matter how many times I’ve seen it, I shake my head.

If you’re well versed on the issue of colorism within the black community, the information provided will be nothing new, but it was still entertaining and the major point of the film is that regardless of how many years have passed and how much progress the community has made, this issue of skin color preference still persists. There were funny moments as well as some that caused tears to be shed. Whatever your experiences may be as a darker skinned person in the US, there was something for everyone to relate to.

Afterwards was a brief question & answer session with the directors, Bill Duke, and D. Channsin Berry. Most of the audience response was positive with folks recounting their own experiences with skin color bias. However, there was one woman who for reasons unclear, seemed to be preoccupied with wanting to know why the directors chose to make a film about dark skinned girls first as opposed to light skinned women. Then became miffed when audience members expressed displeasure. The directors finally responded a film about light skinned women was already in the works, followed by a film about men.

The only drawback was that tickets were expensive. But the screening also served as a fundraiser to help with promotion & distribution. Some of the subject matter will be a little hard for young children to understand, but teenage girls would do well to see the film. Do try and check it out if it comes to your city.

Dark Girls Website

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. moni08
    Jan 19, 2012 @ 21:33:11

    Apparently she didn’t hear the interview with 98.7 Kiss FM where Bill Duke had explained that there were three films in the works, Dark Girls, Light Girls just so that there would be a fair balance to the skin color issue.

    But I feel that it is ridiculous for her to ask a dark skinned director (and Bill Duke is just that) why he chose to make a film about Dark Girls. Is she serious? SMH.


  2. moni08
    Jan 19, 2012 @ 21:33:40

    Excuse me, two films in the works…sorry…


  3. bwgf1
    Feb 04, 2012 @ 21:22:36

    Darker-skinned “Person”. Darkest “Child” Can we PLEASE stop ignoring that this is a problem that MAINLY OVERWHELMINGLY affects and hurts dark-skinned Black WOMEN & GIRLS? Sheesh!

    Anyway, I do plan on seeing this, and I sincerely hope there is no bs or pussyfooting around the REAL story with this.


  4. CHOC
    Feb 09, 2012 @ 22:35:06

    Good morning everyone. I am at work now…and I had something already written out..but for some I keep getting error saying duplicate message..even though I dont see it but here goes…

    I actually read an article this year in Ebony about this documentary..and my heart stopped because finally someone was letting me knw..that I was not imagining this issue…

    I have been following the issue of “Intra-racism” and colorism sense I have been in high school..I am 32 years old; When I was young I attended Magnet schools which allowed me to learn with blacks, whites, bi-racial, and hispanic kids..Not once in all my years of schoolng was I ever put down by children of other races..However, my tormentor was a black girl..with a jerry curl, butter teeth, and glasses…She had the ability to make people laugh…especially at me…As a child I was confused by this..because she was maybe a shade or two lighter than me…She also was best friends’ with a very attrative black girl, who was dark like me…but she wore all the name brand clothes…so she didnt get the backlash I did…..

    I saw the girl as a woman at the age of 25…

    We knew each other immediately…

    She caught me off guard…because she hugged me and was happy to see me…(sometimes she was cool most time not…)but was tripped me out was that she has just given birth to a beautiful baby boy…with eyes the color of the ocean and skin so fair..he could pass for white….I forgave her for driving me all those years at that very moment

    ; I realized someone was making fun of her at home…I realized she was insecure about skin color too…as a child she hated herself..and she wanted me to hate myself too…..

    I am from St. Louis, MO. I really feel that alot of people here are colorstruck and stuck in a slave mentality…

    I of course dont knw everyone, but I have run into some of the most evil, wicked, negative, and ignorant blacks I have ever seen in my life. I have heard it all: From being clld Blacky, Skillet, Tar baby, Midnight, Darky..and my absolute freakin fav: You are sooo cute to be dark…WTF?

    My granny was from Mississippi…and she always used to tell me to get out of the sun…

    I used to think she hated my skin tone..but I realize now…that she was trying to protect me from hurtful comments and attitudes…

    We didnt wake up picking cotton people…

    Our generation had the freedom to vote and make our own decisions…..

    Our spirits were not “beat out of us”..

    We were not left physically scarred or abused..

    Yet we continue to Mentally abuse ourselves.

    One of my oldest friends’ is “light-skinned” with long hair..We wld go out and she wld get allll the numbers..Im talking like..she’s casual and Im dressed to impress…I always knew skin color played a part, but I was not confident and it showed…I was putting out a vibe tht said, “Im not good enough …No one wants me…” I didnt go out with my friend for almost 5 years…But on the flip side..she went through it too..people teased her for being light, but put her on a pedestal at the same time…I went through years of confusion….and I just want to let it be known..That I never wanted to be light-skinned….I just wanted to be treated the same..like, I am special too…..

    Alot of Black women in St. louis are sooo hateful…with a crab in the barrel mentality…We analyze each other’s skin tone, hair texture, and clothes…We dont uplift…we put down and Let down.

    Join me in saying, “Enough is Enough”…what one person sees as ugliness..may in fact be beauty..but we have been programmed to dishonor african features…To me…Oprah is beautiful…To me Whoopi is beautiful..To me, Halle is beautiful!

    Im done letting ignorant people in society tell me who I should be..and how I should look..My skin runs deep baby..and it has a history…So, If you are Light or Dark..and have experienced this sick, twisted notion…Now is the time to hold your head high..Now is the time to take whatever color and features God gave you…and work it. Its time to start a trend…What happened to the “Im black and Im proud days?”…..They say us dark girls are ghetto…(maybe because we dont know our worth)..They say we are loud…(Maybe…because we want our voices to be heard!)…They say we have an attitude…( which might be true..but we are tired of not being taken seriously, we are tired of being overlooked, we are tired of being tired…)But today, I chose to display an attitude of proudness;

    We did not wake up picking cotton yall…and for that im thankful…I thank my beautiful Black Mother for carrying me and bringing me into this world..And I take my hat off to my father for blessing me with my hair texture..(thick, thick, and more thick and my skin color (Hot Chocalate!)

    We need to pick each other up…and dust each other off…and start uplifting each other….Its time all blacks started feeling good about ourselves..(we can do this by learning more about where we came from)….Instead of pointing out what we feel is ugly..lets point out our beauty….lets focus on the positive things and contributions..we made as blacks..We have a black president …that alone makes me want to say f the haters..

    We didnt wake up picking cotton yall…Lets start acting like it–Peace, Love & Wisdom–CHOC


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