Will African American women ever tire of discussing the inherent problems of being born with dark skin instead of light skin?
In a new documentary called “Dark Girls, which will be featured on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network, the film “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.”
It’s an age-old topic. The documentary explores the deep-seated biases and attitudes about skin color, particularly dark-skinned women. While the subject is not groundbreaking, the approach seems novel by allowing black women to share their stories, some perhaps for the first time.
But in an era where black unemployment remains an unacceptable 13.5 percent, public schools are closing at an alarming rate, millions of black children are living in poverty, and millions of blacks are managing without health care, is a film about dark-skinned black women relevant?
Still, it’s a topic that conjures visceral reactions.
While visiting Cancun several years ago, one African American woman remembers the compliments and attention she received on a trip to Cancun.
“When I got over there, I had the men all at my feet. I got a proposal, I got gifts. I’m like, ‘What is going on?'” she says. “They would tell me, ‘You have such beautiful skin. Is that your hair? Did you dye it? Is that your natural color?'”
It’s an entirely different reaction than she gets from other African Americans. “Black folks look at me like, ‘She’s just black. Why are they tripping so?'” the woman says. “It’s really questionable to me. Why is it that… my own people don’t see any beauty in me at all?”
Also in the video, another African American woman shares her own experience with black men, explaining how they behave one way privately and a completely different way when it comes time to venture out in public.
And other black women share painful personal stories:
“I can remember being in the bathtub asking my mom to put bleach in the water so that my skin would be lighter and so that I could escape the feelings I had about not being as beautiful, as acceptable, as lovable.”
“She’s pretty for a dark-skinned girl … What is that supposed to mean?”
“They used to say, ‘You stayed in the oven too long.’ ”
“It was so damaging … it made it seem like we weren’t wanted; that we were less than.”
“The racism that we have as people amongst ourselves is a direct backlash of slavery.”
The world television premiere of the “Dark Girls” documentary airs on Sunday, June 23, at 10 p.m. ET on OWN.
Is a film about dark-skinned black women an important issue in 2013? What do you think?