Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Color of You

While I was on "The Devil" last night (check my last post for what "The Devil" actually is), a friend of mine posted a video which showed a preview of Bill Duke's new documentary Dark Girls. As I watched the four minute video, I cringed a couple of times. As a Black woman, I've obviously been involved in many race related conversations and the dialogue has, by and large, been between other Black people. We've argued about interracial relationships, "the man" bringing us down and a host of other things. But, one of the most heated debates I've ever witness was the light-skinned vs. dark-skinned "issue."

It is my belief that this issue which has plagued us for YEARS is one of our biggest downfalls. Dark-skinned women have continuously been shunned for their complexions, whether it be in music videos (and not just the infamous "video hoe," which I don't believe anyone wants to REALLY be portrayed - I'm talking about a regular lead), movies or tv shows, in their relationships and lest we forget, the paper bag test which some might say really catapulted this problem. I've never, EVER had a problem with my complexion. I've always been taught to love who I am and what I am and whoever doesn't like it...well, they can kick rocks. But sadly, some of my other sisters have not been told that and if they have, they've not been able to believe it. And how can they? One woman in the video stated they her friends saw a pretty black woman and they said, "...she's pretty for a dark-skinned girl." I've been told the same thing and being that these are one of the topics that have the tendency to rile me up, a side eye with a slick comment is right around the bend. Another woman in the film said she heard her own mother speak so highly of her and then said at the end, "...can you imagine if she had any lightness in her skin at all? She'd be gorgeous." This is from someone's mother. Names like "tar baby," "blackie," and "monkey"have been thrown around towards dark-skinned women for YEARS so its no wonder some of us can't "get past it." If it were that easy, it may have changed a long time ago.

Further in the video, it shows a man saying that he'd rather not date a dark-skinned woman because she would look weird with him. Now based on the video, the man didn't exactly resemble a glowworm himself but that's neither here nor there. We can be as gung ho as we want but unless that never wavering self-esteem is there, there is the strong possibility that not only will we question ourselves but we'll also accept anything from any man (or any woman, if that's your preference) just so that somebody...anybody will accept us. People are entitled to have a preference in terms of "the look" but it goes beyond just a preference when you outright hate or are disgusted by one of your own because of their complexion. This, in turn, further destroys our families and continues the cycle of self-esteem. This problem - this COLORSTRUCK life that many of of us are living, whether openly or not - is doing more damage than we know.

But, then there's the other side. The side that says, "Okay, so some people don't love dark-skinned women. So what? Get over it." Honestly, I've said it myself a time or two. Part of me does not understand how as we get older, we fully let people have so much control over how we feel about ourselves. Part of me thinks that people still feel the way they feel about dark-skinned women because we as dark-skinned women have not empowered ourselves enough to let it show that we will continue to be beautiful despite what some may say. Again, maybe I have these questions because I've never felt "less than" because I was darker than some other girls and they may have gotten the boy because they were light-skinned (and yes, most had the long hair as well). In having the conversation with some of my friends about this very subject, I've been very clear that they've allowed a voice other than their own lead the way on how they will be seen. The woman in Duke's film? Some of them I truly felt pain for in the pit of my stomach but others, I really believed that they might choose to stay in a place of "feeling bad" because that way, it might give them some sort of an excuse for not pulling themselves out of out of place in their own community. I know having self-esteem isn't always easy to build but it is necessary. Its a cold war out there...we better bundle up.

I could go on and on, without a doubt, on both sides of this. I didn't even want to really touch on the "light-skinned views" I've heard. This post would truly take flight in yet another direction. What I did want to do is just get a starter topic going [again] based on what I saw which focused on how the "Dark Girls" felt about this and how hurt they've been over the years. There is a pain and there is a cut and no matter how much I might feel that we have to get over it ourselves, we must first fully acknowledge that there has been a separation for decades and it will continue (as seen in the preview, there seems to have been a recent version of the Clark Doll Experiment done for the film) and be HONEST about it so that we can perhaps scratch the surface on how to fix this.

How to figure out how we ALL can get out of our own way.

Dark Girls: Preview from Bradinn French on Vimeo.

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