Every year I’ve told myself I’ll attend a TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) movie and every year comes and goes, excuses, excuses. This year, I buckled down after learning the documentary ‘Dark Girls’ would be showing and waited a total of an hour and fifteen minutes on the phone to purchase my tickets. And it was all worth it.
There was nothing in the doc that surprised me per se including the series of applause, groans and winces (internal and external). The best part I’d have to say was the Q and A after with the directors, who admitted that it was an emotional subject matter but they felt compelled to take it on after all the stories they’d been told.
The parts that stuck with me: One in particular that has stayed with me (that they did not get a chance to include in the movie) was the story of a woman who said she’d never ridden in the passenger’s seat of a man’s car. Whenever she went on a date, she would drive. Think about that.
Another thing that stuck with me was hearing an older woman (looked like she was in her late 40s/50s) telling us about how she didn’t feel pretty when she was younger as she got older, hardened herself to the point that if any man came to talk to her or try to touch her she was ready to fight. She went to the doctor one time and he asked her why she was wearing a certain type of ring (cannot recall what it was for or symbolized) and said because she knew she was never going to get married.
It broke my heart because I think it’s so sad and so unfair for someone to go through life feeling that way.
The psychologists also made some really good points (and these are not literal quotes):
1) It’s ridiculous that one judges another not by their actions or their brain, but by their skin colour
2) Don’t wait for or allow a man to liberate you
The audience response: The Q and A brought as much upheaval as the subject with people pointing to class, country and perception. One lady in my row, took it upon herself to wait and reinforce her point with the directors, I hope it went well.
It’s been a few days and my husband and I have been having some pretty intense on and off discussions on the subject.
As a dark girl myself, the subject is certainly emotional and is definitely challenging especially in light (no pun intended) of the pervasive effect of the bleaching phenomenon, which is a constant reminder that people don’t want to look like me anymore. My opinion on the subject is this, who are you really fooling? People who know or knew you, know what you used to look like so it’s actually kind of silly that you’re trying to change your phenotype. These former Black individuals, a.k.a. F.B.I.s (so eloquently termed by one of my friends) look on dark people with disdain, when, umm…you’re still Black! As the sister (in the doc) with the dreads stated, if the KKK was running through here, they wouldn’t say “hey, let’s not hang her she’s been using jaribu* ” (ok, I made that last part up). Seriously, Black people, you’re not fooling anyone and it’s pretty damn sad that we’ve come to this.
At the end of the day, we have to be honest with ourselves, and most importantly our children.
One last thing: There was a little girl right at the intro of the doc that stated that she did not want to be called Black because, in her words: “I’m not Black” (she is the only dark skinned child in her family). As the doc closed she stated, “my mummy and daddy say I am beautiful”. What I would’ve liked to have heard, is the insertion of the word Black into that sentence, because that is the missing piece to this very complex puzzle of self acceptance.
To learn more about the doc visit:
To learn more about the Toronto International Film Festival visit:
* Jaribu is a skin bleaching cream popularly used by Black people in DRC, Zambia.