On June 23, 2013, Oprah did a PHENOMENAL job at uncovering the “Untold Story” of Colorism in America . The documentary Dark Girls is a fascinating and controversial film that goes underneath the surface to explore the prejudices that dark-skinned women face throughout the world. It explores the roots of classicism, racism and the lack of self-esteem within a segment of cultures that span from America to the most remote corners of the globe. Women share their personal stories, touching on deeply ingrained beliefs and attitudes of society, while allowing generations to heal as they learn to love themselves for who they are.
But she didn’t stop there. In Bill Duke’s Light Girls, real women share their emotional testimonials of what it’s like to be told you’re not a “real black person.”
So here we are, a race of people of the African Diaspora, divided by “whose pain is greater”, yet facing the same feelings of nonacceptance by their own people. On the one hand, its the “Dark Girls” saying “I don’t want to be called Black” and on the other “Light Girls” feeling “not Black enough”.
Dark Girls: A World Television Premiere Event – First Look (Click to view), for me cracked opened the “Pandora’s Box” of the suffering I endured growing up the only “Dark Skinned” on my maternal side of the family. I remember my Grand-Mother, whom I loved dearly, and still do (she passed in 2002) telling me that I was “stupid” for taking after my father. She made me purse my lips, in an effort to conceal my full lips, and pinch my nose to “re-shape” them to that of European features. She even told me once, that if someone at school called me “Black” I was to respond “well, you are white like snow.” Even at 6 years old, and in the first grade, I could rationalize how that was a bad thing. Here is the caveat: my best friend in the first grade was an Italian girl, with blond hair and blue eyes. We were thick as thieves. We both had staring roles in all of the school plays, we ate together at lunch; we even shared lunch…So I waited for her to call me “Black”. She never did. We were friends up until High School, when the reality of racism in America split us apart. We were on the bus, going to school together, as we always did. As we sat next to each other talking and giggling, a group of African American girls said “of course it would be the blackest of us to hang out with white girls” Wait what?!? That statement stuck with me the entire day. It was then that I looked at the the students in my new school and saw the segregation of race and culture. I stopped being her friend, because I was in search of this new “BLACK” identity.
See I grew up on the heels of “Black Power” in America. The Afro-puffs tied neatly and tight with “bo-bo’s”. “Black is Beautiful” was in everyone’s home. “The Blacker the Berry, the Sweeter the Juice” was our theme song. I left the US and resided in the French West Indian island of Martinique. I don’t remember being judged by the color of my skin. Everyone loved my chocolate smooth skin, unblemished and even. That’s what they would say. Yes, as an adult looking back at it now, there was colorism. The people on the Island were defined as follows: “Negresse”, “Couli” and “Mulatte”, in plain English: “Negro”, “Indian” and “Mulatto”. Still, to be a “Negresse” was the face of Madinina.
The liberating moment for me as an adult came when Mr. Barack Obama became the First African American President of the United States of America. But for me, it so much more that him being president, it was his wife, the First Lady of the United States of America! She is a beautiful Woman of Color and dare I say “Dark Skinned” When it was announced that President Obama won the election, the first thing I said was “SHE LOOKS LIKE ME!!!!!!!!!!” “SHE LOOKS LIKE ME!!!!!!!” I was yelling all through out the house. Though I didn’t express it, subconsciously, First Lady Michelle Obama dispelled every wrong thing that society saw in “my skin”.
So the real question bears answering: is America that damaged by the devastation of slavery that even centuries after its abolition, we are still not able to see ourselves as beautiful beings?
In response to this, there is a new organization on the rise, that is ready to attack this issue head on, starting with our little girls. Beautiful Black Butterflyz™ recognizes the the need to empower women does not start at womanhood, but in childhood. We must begin to empower and instill in our little girls the beauty they possess. Traci Spencer and Aisha Harris are the Founders of Beautiful Black Butterflyz™, an organization that promotes self-love, self-acceptance, self-worth and beauty to our young girls of color.
As Beautiful Black Butterflyz™ prepares for its official launch in January 2016, Unveiled By Dominique will partner with Beautiful Black Butterflyz™ to help spread this initiative of promoting love for our skin, and healing the deep wounds in our community for women both young and wise.
Let the “Unveiling” begin.