There has been a new documentary circulating the web, showcasing colorism and its effects on women who occupy the deeper hued color spectrum. I could barely get through watching the preview, and hesitated for quite a bit before clicking the link to view the footage. My hesitation was not based on my own fears or insecurities, but rather, it was an annoyance. I really don't know what good this documentary will do for anyone who identifies or passes as a black woman. Who benefits? (as Khadija would urge all black women to question in multiple situations that arise) Well...let's see. Many groups that have a large demographic of darker skinned people are NOT NEW to the concept of colorism. This is especially true of darker skinned peoples with a history of European Colonial rule. There may be a different name for it, or different terms harshly used to insult a person born with dark skin. There may be a larger variation of bleaching creams and the like, which use images of the same model, one light, and the other dark, to prove the lighter you are, the better it looks and the better your quality of life. If we really wanted to go there, simply observe a before and after of airbrushing done to celebrities of all races. Click here and observe the pattern.
For women, the general rule of thumb is to be lighter. Dark anything, is equated with masculinity. What does this mean for black women? Due to our skin, hair, and eyes, for the most part, pre-disposed to being dark in color because of our genetic origins, we have a steeper hill to climb in terms of mainstream society acknowledging our inherent femininity and claim to all things beautiful. In addition we are operating within a patriarchal society that shifts the stigma of dark skin on the backs of women, and allows men who have dark skin to be praised for it as a testament to their inherent masculinity, supposedly making them all the more appealing to women. Should the man with dark skin acquire riches, he now has the added benefit of choosing from society's "top" women who will more than likely occupy the lightest place of the color spectrum. I am quite certain this is the case for multiple dark skinned cultures and or cultures that have a history of European colonial rule. Again, NOTHING NEW to any of us, and perhaps I have just reinforced what many darker skinned women have known all along. Hmmm... I still don't see how this documentary benefits women who identify or pass as black? In this documentary's preview, I only saw black women speaking of colorism's effects on their lives, but what about interrogating the people who dictate the color pecking order, which would most likely be the men of the group? I did not see a thorough questioning given to men who instinctively know that skin color carries no genetic link to higher intelligence, or better capacity to give birth to healthy offspring, yet consistently select for the lightest women they could possibly have access to, even when there group is predominantly comprised of darker skinned women. I have always believed, if it weren't for a large portion of black women being so heavily "black male identified," they would pay less attention to the absurdity of colorist men's tastes, and suffer less among the black masses.
Now, here is why I am annoyed. The documentary is best summed up for me, as another opportunity that darker skinned women took in the hopes of getting sympathy for their plight of living amongst a society and sub-group of other dark skinned people who carry a deep seated disdain for dark skin on women. However, as has been the case before, these type of documentaries, movies, footage, what have you, do not help the black women who participate. They also do very little to help black women living this reality in their own predominantly black residencies. People at large who are not black do not run to promote ads that showcase and glorify darker skinned beauties. Hmmm...I have yet to see a benefit to spilling all of our hurt and insecurities for the world to see, ponder for a moment, and then move on with their lives. This kind of discussion is better left for a private setting in which their are solutions that each individual woman can do to escape such destructive thinking as wanting bleach placed in their bath water, or that their skin is extremely dirty because of its color. The best this documentary can do is encourage people to change their thinking about dark skin inferiority and light skinned superiority. Change however, is something that people do on their own willingly. There are people out there ladies, who believe firmly in the superiority of lighter skin and are not changing any time soon. At the end of the day, I think it best to not air these issues out for the world to dissect and see through a distorted lense. I do know one way to truly get over this colorist thing is to leave environments that clearly do not uplift you as a black woman period. For many, this means divesting from an all black construct, and adopting one that is more open and appreciative of all characteristics that are attributed to a rich history and genetic origin.