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Dark Girls Documentary: This Dark Girl's Thoughts

I heard a lot about Bill Duke's Dark Girls before I ever saw the documentary. I knew that it was about colorism within the black community and it was supposed to be really deep. So when I heard it was going to be on OWN, I was totally into it.

And so I tweeted about it, Facebooked about  it and then sat down to watch. I don't know what I expected. The film's website promised a look into the lives of women darker than most and the "separate lives" they lead. I didn't really know what those separate lives were, after all I'm a dark girl. What's happening in my separate "dark girl" life? I didn't even know I had one.

I watched woman after woman  tell heartbreaking tales of, neglect, abuse, and low self-esteem. I watched beautiful little brown girls point out pictures of white girls and name them as pretty smart and good, while pictures of a girl like themselves they labeled, dumb, bad and ugly. I saw a retelling of that ridiculous paper bag test. My heart broke for the women in this film. I wanted to hug the little girls who were so young  and already consumed with self-hate. I heard men, black men, talk about how they don't like darker women, wouldn't date them, how they don't find them attractive. I saw all these sad woman and young girls struggling with their relationships with their own skin and I felt their pain and their sorrow, and I shed a few tears.

I liked the film, it was provocative and deep and started conversations that I now see needed to be had. But when the film ended, I was left with an uneasy feeling. Is this the end? A story about how hard it is to be a dark skinned woman. A tale about how poor unwanted dark girls, grow up ridiculed, and teased, how we are invisible and undesirable to many black men. At the very least we are seen as different than our lighter sisters and at the most we are inferior. We harbor jealousies towards lighter women and try to bleach or lighten our skin to make ourselves desirable. All of this in order to "overcome" our dark skin. To this I say BULLSH!T.

Then I realized what was missing from the film. People triumphed in the end, and they overcame their baggage from being dark. But not every dark girl has that baggage. And that's what I need people to know

I know these women and girls and even the self-loathing men in the film were telling their "truth". I felt for them. But that's not my truth and it's not my struggle. And I doubt I'm alone in this. I had dvr'd the documentary thinking I might want to show my girls. But now I hesitate. If they don't have a complex, this film could sure give them one. Not to discredit anyone else's journey, but it doesn't have to be theirs.

I probably would have left it at that, until I received a phone call from a good friend. This friend I am compelled to say is lighter skinned and she had watched the documentary so she was moved by these women's plight. That's cool. What was really uncool, was her assumption that it was also my plight. She was not alone in this. All over social media I saw such generalizations about the dark girl plight. It seriously pissed me off.

The lighter people in my family never ostracized the darker people. I wasn't teased about the color of my skin. I was never jealous of lighter girls. My friends and boyfriends have always been a rainbow. I was never ignored by men and I never felt like I was in competition with light girls for attention. All women have insecurities at times. Mine are not deeper or more prevalent because I'm dark. And I resent the fact that people assume this is the norm. And I fear that's what this film unintentionally teaches.





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