When the documentary “Dark Girls” was premiered in Harlem, I could have gone; I’m a hop and a skip from NYC. The thought of the anticipating hurtful stories made it easy for me to pass. However, I will be facing this fear in the comfort of my home as the documentary is airing on the OWN Network. Though I don’t want to watch, I need to. I need to because I am a dark brown skinned woman, who was once a dark brown skinned girl. I was the girl who was often ignored by boys/men who would speak to my lighter skinned friends “first” and I would get a polite wave; if that at all. I was “cute” for a dark skinned girl, or encouraged to keep my hair long so I would look better. For all intents and purposes I never saw myself as attractive. Now, I did think I looked alright and I didn’t relegate myself to my room and never left. I got dressed up and made certain I looked my best. Yet I knew that being singled out as desirable would be directed toward lighter skinned girls/women who appeared to often have less problems attracting the finest man with the biggest bank account, the nicest clothes and the luxury car. Yep, there were advantages to lighter skin and keener features. Whether it was dating, career moves, marriage or social networking. The lighter the skin, the better you lived.
So when I was in college (a Historically Black College/University) and that brother said to me, “Look at you with your fine chocolate self!” I thought he was kidding. At 19, I had never had a man so explicitly see my dark chocolate skin as beautiful, desirable and aligned with the word, “FINE!!” Seemingly, this was the sentiment of many so-called Black/African American men on campus; some light enough to pass for White stated their preference for “chocolate” girls/women. This was new to me, and I imagine I wasn’t the only one perplexed by the compliment; but I took it!
Yet we still have work to do. Ok, taking ownership, I have work to do. I love my chocolate skin! I love my long hair! I relish the compliments! But like everything else, healing is necessary. So I’ll be watching “Dark Girls”; painful and proud. I need to if scores of dark chocolate girls and women are willing to engage in the healing process, while seeing a role model in love with her skin!