Dark Girls Trailer (2011)

It seems beyond comprehension that a child would ask her mother to put bleach in the bathwater to lighten her skin. Yet this is a reality for countless members of the African diaspora. For many black women — who, like all women, are often judged by their physical appearance — being dark-skinned can become their defining characteristic.

Directors Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry set out to examine why skin-colour bias per­sists and how it affects the lives of women on its receiving end. This is a documentary of testimony. In emotional, heartfelt inter­views, women tell stories of being judged inferior, less attractive and even less intel­ligent because of their dark skin. They tell of black men passing them over in favour of lighter-skinned women. They also speak of judging one another based on skin colour, and of how it feels to internalize racism that dates back to the Atlantic slave trade, but has been left to fester for generations. Duke and Berry — both dark-skinned themselves — include a famous child psychology test in which young girls are asked to rate the characteristics of a series of dolls according to skin shade. The results are disheartening.

Skin-colour bias is, of course, not limited to people of African descent — the popular­ity of skin bleaching products throughout Asia attests to this. As a result, Dark Girls takes on a broader reach. It can’t correct centuries of deeply held beliefs, nor can it heal every woman who has been demeaned or ignored because her skin is darker than most others. What it can do — and what it does so powerfully — is share the feelings of frustration and disbelief at one of our most absurd practices.

1 min 55 sec


Posted On
September 13, 2011
Bill Duke

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September 22, 2011
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