Excellence makes my skin color secondary – Judith Jamison
Dark Girls was a documentary that premiered on OWN a few years ago. It highlighted the insidiousness of colorism among African American women. There’s an invisible hierarchy in the black community between dark-skinned and light-skinned women. Dark Girls sought to shed light on this pervasive issue with hopes of starting a conversation and bringing about change.
Yesterday while in Barnes and Noble I came across a striking cover with Lupita Nyong’o adorned with multicolored feathers. The title of the book is Dark Girls by Bill Duke and Sheila D. Moses, based on the documentary. I bought it immediately and read through the 200+ pages that day. It’s a book of photographs and stories filled with beautiful dark-skinned women. According to the author, he chose women who were darker than the brown paper bag to produce the reverse effect of that dehumanizing tradition. The women share stories of what it was like growing up being ridiculed, outcasted, and overshadowed because of their dark skin. They also shed light on how they empowered themselves by finally seeing their beauty. The subjects ranged from famous celebrities to everyday women who deal with this issue. I thought it was a lovely book and added it to my bookshelf. I am keeping it so my daughter when I have her one day, can look through the pages and be empowered by black beauty.
One of the thoughts that rained through my head was why colorism is still an issue and why we have to create books and documentaries to empower our sisters in this day in age? Why hasn’t progress been made when it comes to us, as black people, accepting that we come in all different shades and colors and no one shade is better than the other? It hurt me to know that so many of my sisters had to endure feelings of inferiority for a trait they are born with. Why do we always have to find subtle differences in one another to use as a measure of attack? I’ve studied colorism for some time now and unfortunately, this is a deep-rooted issue that most blacks will not own up to. The conversation is the first step towards progress but we have to see that this is actually a problem before the change can begin to take place.