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“Dark Girls” Examines the Still-Taboo Topic of Colorism – MMXLII

“Dark Girls” Examines the Still-Taboo Topic of Colorism

Take a look at this thought-provoking trailer for “Dark Girls,” a new documentary in which director Bill Dukes explores the still-taboo issue of colorism.   The film reveals the discrimination, some of it subtle and some of it not, faced by women with darker skin, and examines how that discrimination can affect self-perception.


We have a 5-year-old child in our film who has four dolls in front of her and her fingers are as dark as mine and we say, what is the beautiful doll: the white doll; what is the smart doll: the white doll. What is the ugly doll: the black doll; what is the stupid doll: the black doll. She’s gotten that message from someplace and that’s what we are addressing. The audience gets the opportunity to really experience it from the lens of our cameras. They decide what the right answer is. We don’t presume that we know.


We found the trailer alone illuminating, and we’re excited to watch the full film.  Dukes discusses what he learned working on the project in this interview with The Washington Post. Particularly significant is the revelation that colorism, often considered an issue most important to African American communities, is a phenomenon that affects women of color across the world.


And as we examined it, we discovered skin bleach cream is a multibillion-dollar business worldwide, in Asia, India, Africa and it goes on and on. This nation, too, the irony being that while black women are trying to become less ethnic and more white, white women are risking skin cancer and tanning booths twice a week, Botoxing their lips, getting butt lifts to look more ethnic and crinkling up their hair.


We’ve talked before about how the perception of physical beauty is susceptible to change over time, with new trends and looks coming in and out of style. Dukes’ movie reveals how much those trends can be influenced by prejudice.  The pervasive reach of colorism, as suggested by the worldwide success of the skin bleach industry, is an example of the power Western standards of beauty still hold over much of the world.  We think it’s an important topic to be aware of.  When a prejudice is as pervasive as colorism, it can affect a person’s thinking in ways so subtle they’re easily missed, a problem Dukes discusses in his interview.


I think the deepest part is we learned our own prejudices and we learned our own indoctrinations. We learned where our own standards of beauty came from, what were our preferences and why were we making those decisions in terms of women.


Becoming aware of those prejudices and indoctrinations is the first step in combating them, which is why we’re encouraging all of our readers to check the film Sunday, June 23rd of 2013, when it will be shown widely for the first time on Oprah’s OWN network.  “Dark Girls” is the first in a planned three-part series: the second film, “Yellow Brick Road,” will examine the issues faced by lighter skinned women, while the third movie “What is a Man,” will switch things up with an exploration of issues of masculinity and male identity.  Let us know what you think about the trailer. How has colorism affected your life?  How has it affected your thinking?

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