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More than skin deep

Documentary sheds light on topic of skin tone

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Posted: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 3:52 pm

The documentary "Dark Girls" brought the issue of light skin versus dark skin to the forefront.

The movie has bone-chilling interviews that include tales of self-hatred and loathing.

For years, people in the African-American community have debated whether the color of your skin is valuable.

Watching "Dark Girls" opened my eyes to so many things (although I was never naïve to the debate).

It was hard to watch these beautiful dark skinned women talk about their struggles with their skin tone. I’ve always wanted to have that smooth chocolate skin.

Hearing the names people called these women, such as mud duck, made me cringe. One would think this came from people of another race but it came from black people.

In the documentary, men speak about whether they would date a light skinned or dark skinned woman. A young man, whose identity is kept secret, talks about how he would never date a dark skinned girl because dark skinned girls are mean.

Other men featured in this section countered the young man’s arguments by saying they rather date a dark skinned woman because the darker the skin, the more the woman resembles royalty.

As a black woman that comes from a family where all skin tone can be seen, I don’t think I’ve ever struggled with thinking my lighter skinned cousins were better than me.

As I continued to view the movie, I asked myself "Why is skin tone so important?"

Even now, when my father jokes around and says I’m light skin, I combat his statement by claiming I am dark skin. Why does it bother me that my dad thinks I’m light skin? Why do I find a higher value in having darker skin?

Unfortunately, I can’t answer those questions for you. I don’t know why I want to have a skinned tone that resembles that of my gorgeously dark skin boyfriend. It may stem from my mother’s constant reminder of how beautiful my summer (usually tanned) skin is.

As I grow older and I start to think about what I will teach my children about skin tone, it scares me. I know I will teach my daughter to love herself no matter what her skin tone is.

My fear comes from the thought of having a son. Do I teach my son that the darker the skin, the better? Will I be upset if he ever says he prefers light skinned women? How do I respond to that?

I don’t know why skin tone has become such an important topic in the African-American community.

Watch as I explore the topic for myself. The South End has given me the platform to explore a topic so close to my heart.

Not only will I pick the brains of dark skinned women, but I will also speak to women of a lighter complexion as well, learning about their feelings towards the stereotypes that come along with light skin versus dark skin.

I thank the directors and producers of "Dark Girls," D. Channsin Berry and Bill Duke, for opening up the controversial topic. My "Dark Girls" inspired mini-series will document not only the lives of others but, also my own self discovery of the colorism within my race.

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