I watched the Dark Girls documentary on Oprah’s OWN last night. It’s a documentary that explores the intricacies of being a dark skinned woman in America, from perception, reception, esteem, and opinion. It’s an interesting documentary, mostly because of some of the absolute ridiculousness from the mouths of the some the menfolks that were interviewed.
On assumptions of negativity about darkskinned women: “If she’s dark skinned, she must be from Compton.”
One fellow on why he wants to have kids with dark skinned women: “I want my kids to look like pharaohs.”
Let’s just say that listening to men talk about how they feel about light vs dark skinned women is almost as telling as listening to women talk about how they felt about being dark skinned. Which, real talk, is not surprising. Many men, both non-sensical and, um, sensical, are directly responsible for the esteem of many women. While it is self-esteem, aka esteem of your motherloving self, at the end of the day, many of us do tie our esteem into how we are perceived. Fair or unfair, it is what it is.
And they also touched on that “swirler” mentality that speaks to the fact that white men allegedly revere dark skinned women (or just Black women) and appreciate these women for who they are. I’m guessing that’s because every time I date a Black woman I definitely attempt to turn her into the dark skinned white woman that I always wanted to marry. Which totally sucks, but hey, if I’m gonna date you, sista girl, you definitely need to natural up that permed out natural. Word life.
Let’s get personal here. I’m one of those guys who has always had a thing for dark skinned women. I’m not sure why or how this started. Now, I’ve dated, have dated, and would date a light skinned woman. I really just love women. All Black women are fair game. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I didn’t have some sort of bias toward browner women. Not to sound all objectional, but there’s just something beatiful about a dark skinned woman to me. The most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen with my own two eyes was a gorgeous, flawless skinned dark skinned woman in Atlanta.
Color issues, namely issues with dark skinned women, still baffle me. But what I do know is that they are very real. Even if they’re not shared unless somebody asks, they clearly do exist even if just behind closed doors. Why do they baffle me? Well, because I’d hope that we were past this non-sense by now, but clearly we aren’t or can’t be. I also think that I have the benefit of being 1) an HBCU grad where so many beautiful women of all shades were doing so many important things it seemed like we’d kind of transcended; and 2) a resident of a city where young professionals are runnin’ the city and are out here dating and I see lots of dark, light, and brown women happily engaged in relationships…you know, when they’re not all being single.
But hearing stories like the woman from Mississippi who basically said she figured nobody would want her because she was dark skinned actually hurt a little. It’s clearly sad for a woman in her teens to already have determined that she wasn’t going to end with anybody, much less married, because who would want such a dark skinned woman. Which becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. It didn’t surprise me given where she was from – a town called Baptist Town, Mississippi – but to hear that said out loud and realizing that it could mirror the sentiment of so many women was sobering. I know its not my own cross to bear nor am I trying to be the patron saint of Black woman self-esteem, but it is a shame that a woman could remove herself from the potential for a happy future of that sort because she knows that she is dark.
Back to living in DC. I actually wonder if I’m just making this “kumbaya” life up. While it seems like of the women who are winning, they run the color gamut, maybe I’m not paying enough attention. I do know that I seem to come across a lot of women who very strong and don’t seem to be constrained to any particular limits. But then I’ll hear stories from women where
kids and men say and do some of THE most darndest things and I guess anything is possible.
Not for nothing, I didn’t really find anything in the documentary being that enlightening, but I think its because I’ve had these conversations and been to panels about them etc for some years now. However, it is very interesting to see and hear Black men discuss these things honestly. It is a double edged sword given that you realize how inarticulate some folks can be about why they like what the like when they have to defend their choices. But I do appreciate attempts to talk about these issues in our community because if our girls are hurting, they will turn into women who are hurting and our community definitely rests in the hands of our women who will be raising the boys into men of tomorrow.
I don’t think these documentaries change the world, but I do think that while women will be the ones watching these docs, men need to see things like Dark Girls as much if not more than women. Just so we can have some idea about something we never really have to deal with. Sure I’m light skinned and technically not in style since before Paula Deen was a racist, but I’ve never had any issues that I felt were due to my being light. I think men just live in a different esteem vacuum though.
Anyway, this was
everybody scattered a bit, but did you watch Dark Girls? Where do you think we are in respect to colorism in this nation nowadays? Did you deal with color issues growing up and do they still exist? Is being dark skinned STILL a big deal in a negative sense? There’s a lot to touch on there, but I’m curious.
Talk to me. Petey.
Oh and who wants you boo? Panama. Oh, and Tupac. Because Tupac cares even if nobody else cares.
-VSB P aka THE ARSONIST aka MR. LIGHTSKINT AND DARKSKINT FRIEND WHO LOOK LIKE MICHAEL JACKSON aka GIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRL HE A 3