Dark Girls: Preview.
I think I may have watched this trailer over 5 times at the very least. Who knows what will happen once the actual documentary is released toward the end of this year.
Those who know me, also know how passionate I am toward this issue of ‘colorism’ and its prevalence in South Asian and South Asian American communities. The preview above is an incredibly powerful look into this same issue among African Americans. There are so many parallels that illustrate the universality of this complex and how they socially manipulate individuals, mostly women, to believe a certain way about beauty.
The most powerful theme of these stories is how this prejudice is perpetuated internally by the very own communities we call our own. One young woman in reference to her skin says “I thought it was dirt and I tried to clean it off”. In Urdu/Hindi, sometimes the phrase “rung saaf hai” is used to describe someone’s light skin which literally translates to “clean skin”. The most discomforting part is that no one will question the language we use to describe appearances.
Cleary, I can’t wait for this documentary to be released. Everyone around me is going Lady Gaga over Hangover 2 and I’m sitting in my room repeatedly watching this preview over and over at odd hours of the day and night, memorizing the pain on the faces of these women and the subtle relief they feel expelling their thoughts that were probably hidden for way too long.
Going back to how language is used to substantiate this prejudice, one woman in the clip gives examples of some of the words used to describe darker women such as “exotic” and “fascinating”. How come Bipasha Basu, one of Bollywood’s darkest actresses, is always described as India’s sex kitten or the object of men’s fantasies? How often do fantasies reflect the real world? The quote that really hit me hard was when a woman said “the darker you are, it’s more of a sexual approach. It’s more of a relationship without much meaning sort of approach than it is ‘I can get married to that woman and have a few kids’”. Obviously, there are exceptions but why are they exceptions?
It’s so funny, no matter how many tumblr posts, fb posts, tweets or articles I send out concerning color, I never get the responses I’m hoping for. Let me break it down for you. There are three types of audiences I’ve had the pleasure and displeasure of experiencing in efforts to raise awareness of colorism. Ready for the breakdown?
1. The not-so-subtle subject changers: these individuals, some of whom include those closest to me, for some reason feel really uncomfortable when I point something out or try to start a conversation about dark versus light skin. It’s like they would rather be getting a root canal over listening me talk about the plight of dark girls. Their discomfort is quite obvious when they use awkward humor or transitions to change the subject to something more in tune with their interests and of course safely within their circle of safe space.
2. The slightly ignorant talkers: I actually prefer interacting with this group over #1 because at least they say something. For example, people have compared this issue to the American obsession with tanning and others believe colorism “isn’t that big of a deal”. The most difficult part for me is to professionally manage my frustration in these conversations. I have to constantly keep in mind that several years from now, these experiences are going to help me be an unbiased, respectable researcher. But of course, now and again I still let some of that anger come out over heated tweets or wall posts. No one’s perfect.
3. The future change makers: Only a handful of people I’ve come into contact with fit this category. These are the individuals who have taken a genuine interest in learning more and have taken some time to dissect this mentality with me. Like I’ve said before in my older posts, it’s all about raising awareness, sparking conversations that I truly do believe will lead to gradual positive change.
Pop quiz: what would you do in a family setting if someone were to use derogatory language to categorize men or women based on their skin tone? Do you ignore it and pretend it was never said? Do you agree with what is being said or even more frightening, do you simply not hear it? If not, then fucking start listening because it’s real, even if you don’t identify with it. Believe me, your ignorance is painfully blatant.
Thanks, Sarah, for sending this preview my way. And I appreciate those of you who read my post :) I apologize for the lack of structure but it’s 2 am right now.