Preview of Bill Duke’s “Dark Girls,” A Documentary About Dark Skin Prejudice and How It Affects Dark-Skinned Black Women

Hat tip to Zenzele on FB.

Bill Duke‘s film, co-directed and co-produced with D. Channsin Berry (and editor Bradinn French), could not have come at a better time, especially since that Kanazawa creep suggests that black women think that they are stuck on themselves for no apparent reason.  Hey dude, if you don’t have the stones to bring it, get out of my way instead of starting some outrageous sh*t that you can’t even back up:

It is very interesting to note that, even though black women are objectively less physically attractive than other women, black women (and men) subjectively consider themselves to be far more physically attractive than others.

Which shows how much he knows about black people at all. Positive self-image and self-love are intangibles to be highly prized in all people, but not black women, because they presume too much on their own attractiveness?  Yet for all that, black women suffer from low self-esteem, depression and self-hatred generated not only from those outside, but from within their own community and within their own families. And much of that disparagement is aimed at dark-skinned black women.

Which brings me to this film. I have no doubt that Bill Duke produced and directed this film because he himself is a skillet-blond, very imposing (6’4″) man. As Alice Walker once described dark-skinned black women in her essay, “If the Present Looks Like The Past, What Does the Future Look Like?”, Duke is a “black, black” man. Even at the age of 68, an elder statesman of black film, someone who has accomplished much as an actor and as a director, he would still be “a scary black man,” when he is much more than that. I think that he is bringing out this film so that his own burdens might be relieved as well as those of black women, and to spark a discussion and a dialogue within the community.

From what I understand, Dark Girls is in post-production. This is a short documentary, which means that it is probably between 30 to 90 minutes long. If 90 minutes long, it could probably find a niche in some arty houses close to downtown or some Sundance-y suburb. No doubt, if it doesn’t find a wide-ranging distributor, it will probably play on HBO or PBS’ Independent Lens series. Keep it in the backs of your minds, because frankly, this film is going to be deep.

~ by blksista on May 26, 2011.

17 Responses to “Preview of Bill Duke’s “Dark Girls,” A Documentary About Dark Skin Prejudice and How It Affects Dark-Skinned Black Women”

  1. It is no fun being a light skin black. Everyone dislikes you for the color of your skin. The white race hates you for being black, and some blacks hate you because your skin is light. You end up feeling like you really don’t belong anywhere.

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    • You belong to us and with us.

      Don’t let these kinds of a-holes take away your dignity. You are not some kind of tragic mulatto–those days are ovah.

      That being said, there is light-skin privilege among those who self-identify as blacks.

      So long as you resist the reality that light-skin privilege exists and oppresses, there is no coming to understanding about why and how dark-skinned blacks can catch hell. And it would give you reasons to fight against both phenomena.

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  2. Thanx Mr. Duke This is needed, I remember that my sista use to hear the you’ll be gorgeous if you were lighter, this coming from my cousin smh Yet my Uncle Rocky(RIP) and myself told her don’t listen to them you’re dark and beautiful. I have to get this DVD My niece when she was young once said she wish she looked like Barbie smh. I ranned out and brought her a Book with Afrikan Princesses to show her that she’s beautiful, Now she’s 18 years old and thinks she’s the most beautiful girl in the world lol. Real talk she stays in the mirror.

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  3. when will the dvd be available to buy?

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  4. I am so happy that Bill Dukes is addressing this issue we make believe sometime this does not happen anymore. But reality we are in the what I call the renaments of Slavery and now we do it to each other . I felt so sad to see the little black girl whom is so pretty say that her brown skin was ugly this sadden me. We need to get this out in the open and heal ourselves of this and put the Willie Lynch speak to rest. The black men whom I saw on a show that said they do not date black women it a shame. If you date other people it your preference do not put down black women your mother was a black women out of respect for her do not do this. All of us should watch this doucmentary with our girl friends and have a dialog discussion to heal the wounds we have legacy to create for our children and grandchildren don’t let this continue. I pray we address this issue and move on to a positive new beginning of celebrating our selves and building our legacies for our families.

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  5. Natasha, I have to disagree with you, and blksista, I so deeply appreciate your thoughtful call for patience on the final product. I think sociologists would think that Natasha’s perspective is completely valid, but at the same time, I fear that trend. individual voices need not be drowned out in the pursuit of universals. This is what is so powerfully compelling about gender studies, race studies, queer studies: no set of academic limitations has yet been placed on personal narrative. Also, I must admit that what’s so amazing to me about social media (and I say this after my video for the “It Gets Better” project went viral) is that the very breadth of such powerful messages as the one in “Dark Girls” is limitless. I love seeing consciousness raised in living rooms. I cannot wait to see this, cannot wait to have my students see this. Bravo, Bill Duke! Blksista, one of the most amazing and esteemed human rights defenders in the USA led me to your blog via Facebook, so keep up the great and wonderful work! 🙂 You’re being read by some bigwigs! – J. D.

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  6. There is an over sampling of women with self esteem issues based on color. In this clip, there appears to be no representation of women with healthy self esteem. I understand what they are attempting to do but…I fear that they are inadvertently perpetuating beliefs (although popular), not accepted as “truth” by everyone. We need to hear the voices of dissension to understand the full story and I hope the documentary includes the variety of perspectives.      

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    • In recognizing that the problem is not about them but about the culture, people first have to say how the problem has damaged them or hurt them. That’s the first step. This is what we see here.

      Even the women’s liberationists called this “consciousness-raising” in groups they held across the country. They found that they were not alone feeling the way that they did about what oppressed them.

      The second step is how we can fight against these damaging views both in our community and outside of it. Those who possess healthy self-esteem or have positive methods or reinforcement about themselves could talk about his in the second part of the film. But so far, we’ve only got this much of a larger work that has yet to be released. So have patience.

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  7. Can you imagine there is no race that will so often publicly downtalk on the colour of others within that race than black people. Can you imagine that bleach products are nowhere else sold as well as in Africa. So someone did a very good job at making the people that should uplift that skin colour believe that this beautiful skin colour which makes one ages gracefully is ugly.

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    • I see black beauty everyday and it amazes me how oblivious the person is to his or her looks all because their skin is dark.

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  8. This is even more an issue lately with young Black kids today because of the media focus on fair skin females as well as recent disses of Black women by Don Imus, Ochocinco, Lil Wayne, Slim Thug and other “role models.”

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  9. I am thankful that this kind of documentary will hopefully help create dialogue in the Black community, and more importantly, be part of a movement to change the “taboo” mentality of having dark skin. Unfortunately, this mindset is part of the residue that was created by slavery in colonized countries, and it has continued by how Blacks are perceived the world, especially if one is darker skinned. Television, magazines, movies, and television continue to perpetuate this dogma. I believe that the initial change must come from within the Black community by how we embrace all the beautiful hues in our race. It must begin with us!

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  10. Indeed this documentary is very timely and I look forward to purchasing it, and hope that it inspires some needed dialogue. The book, “Don’t Play in The Sun” written by Marquita Golden is an excellent book on her experience dealing with “coloritis.” On a deeply personal level,I had the opportunity to write about this issue in an autobiographical articlc “From the Family Notebook” in my late cousin’s anthology, “The Black Woman,” by Toni Cade Bambara. We all remember that Willie Lynch said one of his methods to separate and control the slaves was the issue of “color” along with his other methods,…pitting old against young; man against womAn, and that theSE methods would last for 300 years. Well, I’m determined to prove him a liar. Come 2012, the 300 years will be up. Although many scholars doubt the validity of the Willie Lynch Speech, there’s no question that “coloritis is a residue of slavery that continues to divide us. It’s time to stamp it out now! I remember the words of that white racist from Booker T. Washington’s autobiography, “Up from Slavery”….”I don’t care any more about Booker T. Washington and his white Anglo-Saxon reinforcements…than I do about Andy Dotson who shines my shoes.”

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  11. Thanks for writing about Dark Girls. I just saw a clip of it today and was very touched. I’m so happy to see that issues like this are moving past the hair salon and discussions among friends. We need to expose and fight colorism.

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