The documentaries for Dark and Light Girls both debuted over a year ago and when they did, I was only able to get around to watching Light Girls. As much as my heart ached during both specials, truth is, I’m really neither of the two and fit comfortably somewhere in the middle. When I was growing up and even now as an adult, I am questioned about my blackness. People want to know if I am mixed with something due to my skin tone and hair because everyone seems to have a hard time believing that you can be black with what they consider “decent” hair and not actually be all one ethnicity. That probably annoyed me more than it offended me for a long time.......until it started to anger me as I become more aware. It's almost as if they insinuated that my looks mattered because I wasn't just a Black girl. Like mostly all of us, I have many things in my bloodline but identify as African American when I check the block. Without a doubt, I will always be proud of that.
Anyway, I recently watched Dark Girls because it was on YouTube and I actually had the time to stream it. Needless to say, this documentary troubled me just as much as the first because it is was yet another depiction of how we treat each other in the Black community and the issues that we have continued to have throughout the years in dealing with Colorism internally. It’s shameful because as a person of color you are up against the world and your own at the same time. You go out into the world and are ridiculed, talked about, devalued, and shown little appreciation from every race regarding how you look. It then becomes a problem because you aren’t getting the motivation and love poured into you by anyone from anywhere other than maybe a few select set of people who enjoy embracing their Blackness with pride………….promoting it just the same. Because there are not many, there is always a need to identify those who embrace you and teach you just how beautiful your skin is regardless to what anyone is saying about it. As a community we have to ignite that pride that runs so deep we never care what anyone outside of us is saying because it's embedded in us to hold our heads up high and bask in all hues we possess.
I have never been a dark skinned girl or woman so I cannot completely walk in the shoes of those who have and still go through things because of that fact. I have however been the girl that was browner than her friends and was able to see that those friends received more attention because people were under the misconception that lighter was better, purer, and more beautiful. At the time it didn’t necessarily make me feel inferior that I was a few shades browner because people didn’t make me really feel that way about my skin. It was clear though that a lighter skinned girl, no matter her aesthetic beauty, seemed to appeal more to the guys who were looking in our direction. As an impressionable teen that was interested in the acceptance of the boys, that alone made all of us who weren't extremely light wish we were. With that being said, the struggle of a deep chocolate beauty without a question was definitely much different and definitely more traumatic to their emotional well being.
The truth is, the world in general always put negative connotations on what it means to be a Black person. Black is evil, dark, and associated with night......that time of day when they assume nothing good is ever happening. That’s how they have made Black people feel over the years. Tainted…….As if no good is in “Blackness” at all. The documentary told tales of how family members imposed their negative attitudes about dark skin onto the children in their lives. They said things like, "she would be gorgeous if she were light skinned" and expected that little girl to feel beautiful and special. It made me so upset to watch these adult women cry. Not because they hadn't accepted their skin or because they didn't currently embrace their own beauty, but because when they were growing up, they weren't nurtured, loved and cherished. Because someone they loved and looked up to didn't glorify their beauty. Because they weren't taught to love themselves........because they were "too black".
As the documentary continued, another thing that stuck out for me was how the kids never really felt accepted among their peers and felt as if they were being treated differently because of how dark they were. It even showed how one little girl wished she was white because to her she felt they were prettier and that white kids were smarter (I can not begin to tell anyone how much it pains me to watch Black children misunderstand how awesome they are and how awesome what they come from is) Kids are mean, always have been mean and probably will continue to be mean because they have no idea how what they say and do to one another will effective them when they grow up. Most are not taught to be sensitive to someone else's struggles and needs because they are sheltered from the world and the effects that their behavior will have on someone who will eventually be an adult with life long memories. They tease you because of how much money your parents have, where you live, how you look………….a whole host of things. And this color situation is one thing that is even more of an issue because as they grow up in this time, mixed girls, foreign girls, light skinned black girls………….that’s what the world identifies with beauty. Not the dark skinned girls. There hasn’t been much room for those girls to flourish though they are making an attempt to have more outlets that promote the beauty in being natural and being browner than a paper bag.
Another very significant portion of this for me was the perception that many Black men have of darker skinned women. It was just downright ridiculous to hear some of the things that they said and the way that they thought. They even got down to details on how they perceived they were in the bedroom. How can you think this way when you come from a Black woman yourself? Some of them just as dark as the women they ridicule and look down upon. There seems to be a lack of respect just because of the shade of someone’s skin. Something they are born into and that they can do nothing about. It is shameful and the truth is, no matter how many stories are told, how many documentaries are filmed, how many books are written, how many women’s self-esteem is shattered, these people will always have a very ugly perception of skin tones. It brings the question of how they truly feel about themselves that they can shame the beauty of any women of color………..How do they truly feel about themselves?
I know that those of us who have not walked in the shoes of a little girl who was tortured, beaten, talked about, mistreated, abused in ways we cannot say……..we will NEVER know the pain of these now women who are among us. Those that had to struggle to rebuild their self-esteem and understand their true self-worth years after being told that they weren’t worth much because they weren’t light. It is saddening to see the the pain on their faces as they recount their experiences and when they think back on the people they considered friends that laughed at them, the family members who down talked them and the people that overlooked them. But it is so beautiful to watch them begin to love themselves in a way that no one else will ever understand. They had to overcome even their own shaming them and they climbed out of that only to see the true value and beauty that they naturally possess. They get to see the features that they were born with idolized by others when they walk into a room with complete and total confidence because they truly believe it. They deserve to have a bright light shine on them in a way that no one else does.
Every Black women today is beginning to be overlooked regardless to her hue. The world is so blinded by “lightness” that almost none of us are appreciated. When I see these types of things and listen to the horror stories, I truly wonder when will color matter less and being a beautiful dynamic and unique person mean more? Why has lighter been looked at as more superior? Why are dark beauties investing in lightening cream all over the world instead of loving who they are? When will black men stop refusing to date black women because of incorrect perception and uplifting her for the world to see? When will the world stop validating Black Beauty only when another ethnic group adopts their features? It is something that will be debated for many years to come because no matter how valuable women of color are, their value is broken down, overlooked, debated, and disregarded by everyone………including those walking around in the skin.
I hope though that we continue to educate our little girls so that they are aware of who they are. That they don’t forget we are all amazing in our own way no matter what we look like. They should be proud of their "Blackness" and there should be no one on the planet making them feel that they would be more beautiful if their skin was lighter. It will never matter if the world accepts our children if we have no one who looks like them encouraging them have genuine self love. We ourselves as parents, educators, mentors, friends and family members must give them encouragement that helps their self-esteem fly off the charts so they don’t allow the negativity they will face to penetrate their own thoughts of themselves. That’s our role. We are responsible for letting the world know that bright, light brown, or deep chocolate, our Black Is Beautiful.
Until Next Time Lovies!