AmberLove 06-APR-2012 Duke Media and Urban Winter Entertainment created the movie DARK GIRLS, a documentary from the perspectives of many women of color telling their stories about treatment within the black community and from outside it towards skin that falls at the dark end of the flesh spectrum.

Bill Duke (Predator fame and Duke Media) and D. Channsin Berry (Urban Winter Entertainment) direct and produce this film heavy with one-camera interviews of black women from all walks of life not only familiar celebrity names like Viola Davis. Broaching the subject of being outcast in the African-American community for being too dark is one common thread. Women who were rejected by black men because they weren’t “light enough” is another. Media and marketing campaigns are pointed out like L’Oreal’s lightening of Beyoncé. They call out, “Rise!” which empowers their tears to stop flowing down their ebony cheeks.

Dark-skinned Black American women from all walks of life will be covered with a key focus trained tightly upon women struggling for upward mobility in the workplace of Corporate America. “The sickness is so crazy,” Berry continues. “These ladies broke it down to the degree that dark-skinned ‘sistas’ with ‘good’ hair vs. dark-skinned women with ‘kinky’ hair were given edges when it came time for coveted promotions.” Additional interviewees for “Dark Girls” include White men in loving intimate relationships with Black women that were passed over by “their own men,” as well as dark-skinned women of Latin and Panamanian background to bring a world perspective to the issue of dark vs. light.

The crowdfunding campaign only hit $7,000 a far reach from the $250,000 the producers sought for the project to reach audiences. It’s gone to film festivals already and in February won the Audience Choice Award at the Pan African Film Festival. Unfortunately, the IndieGoGo campaign is closed but you can still donate directly via the buttons on the official website. The good thing about IndieGoGo is that the creators get that $7,000 even though their goal was not reached which is not how Kickstarter works.

Berry states of the film’s origin, “When Bill called me with the idea of a documentary about dark-skinned women, I was in right away. Being a dark-skinned Black man, like Bill, I have gone through similar traumas. Being separated and discriminated against by our own people. It stifles your self-esteem. Bill and I shared our similar experiences and immediately understood that we knew the best way to approach this.”

Duke adds, “In the late `60s a famous psychological study was done in which a young Black girl was presented with a set of dolls. Every time the she was asked to point to the one that wasn’t pretty, not smart, etc., she pointed to the Black doll that looked just like her. In her mind, she was already indoctrinated. To watch her do that was heartbreaking and infuriating. CNN did the test again recently – decades later – with little progress. As the filmmakers behind ‘Dark Girls,’ our goal is to take that little girl’s finger off that doll.”

I’m a very pale white woman who idolizes Oprah Winfrey. When I was small, I wanted to be Diana Ross, a Solid Gold Dancer or a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader. Hilarious, I know. According to Forbes, Oprah is still the top self-made richest woman on their list; the others that rank higher have inherited their circumstances. Needless to say, it does come as a bit of a surprise to me that the struggle over skin tone has roots that will not budge within the individual communities of color. I live in a rather lily white region. I can’t say I’m proud of my own ignorance but I am honest when I say, I didn’t know this existed like to this degree in today’s world. It’s common for me to joke that I’ll burst into flames if the sun touches me. I’ve dealt with fat-shaming by the internet but I’ve never had to deal with the color of my skin being an issue.

As women, we have a need to build strength for each other, to have each other’s back when it feels like we can’t possibly handle one more insult. This documentary is led by two powerful and determined men that have stepped up to the plate for their gender and that is extraordinary.

At an early age, I was always called the most derogatory terms any child should endure. My mother was shades lighter then me and even though I know my Mom loved me, I even heard it from her lips that I was “Black and Ugly”! ~ Guest story by Barbara at the Submit Your Story section of the site.