‘Light Girls’ addresses internal conflict, colorism, not much privilege

Duke Media / OWN

Duke Media / OWN

Last night, Oprah’s OWN Network aired “Light Girls,” a sequel to the documentary “Dark Girls,” and I saw a lot of conflict on Twitter from black men and black women – both with light and dark skin.

I think this doc had more depth than “Dark Girls,” and maybe that was Bill Duke learning from the predecessor, but it still felt frustrating to see what seems like more effort into giving depth to this documentary over the prior one.

I was happy to see some acknowledgment of privilege that black people with fair skin had to pass and reject those who were darker. Seeing Amber Rose get emotional about her Creole family’s refusal to attend her wedding to Wiz Khalifa (now separated) was striking. “[I]t’s hard to explain yourself without sounding mean or bitter or angry, but I am. I’m angry that my family is like that and they want to pass so bad that they raise my mom and my uncles and my aunts to not fully know their culture.”

I would have liked to see more colorism acknowledgment in favor of fairer skinned black women – at least some in response to the bullying “black girls (I put this in quotes because some calling darker girls black were also black, albeit fairer),” did to light girls, because that’s more often what happens. Still, I liked that the Eurocentric, white standard of beauty for media, the fashion world and its role in damaging the self image of black women was called out. Still, I wish the root of colorism – racism – would have been addressed, rather than placing the blame solely on the black community.

I was happy to see so many bloggers with powerful voices for black women (Luvvie, Jamilah Lemieux, Afrobella, and others) speak truthfully about their experiences and privileges. I was happy to hear Soledad O’Brien say, “I think my skin color has been an advantage in the workplace, for sure. I think that’s changed a little bit over the past 10 years, but not much.”

My biggest frustration lied with the complexity of TV and film casting of black women. I’ve seen more fairer women casted as black female leads than darker women. I understand the pressures studios and casting directors face with casting darker actresses over light ones to seem more diverse, but the reality is, we’re seeing the opposite.



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