The woman in the mirror

“Dark Girls” sparks conversation among Monarchs.

By Zaida Diaz, Valley Life Editor

“Black Heritage Celebration” (BHC) came to an end last week as Monarchs filled the seats in the Student Services Multi-Purpose Room for a screening of “Dark Girls.”

SCREENING - Monarchs view "Dark Girls" in the Student Services Multipurpose Room to culminate Black Heritage Celebration, Thursday, February 26, 2015.Agustín Ángel Flores / Photo Editor

SCREENING – Monarchs view “Dark Girls” in the Student Services Multipurpose Room to culminate Black Heritage Celebration, Thursday, February 26, 2015.

The 2011 controversial documentary, by Directors Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry, explores the issue of colorism internationally and in modern day America.

It looks specifically at the negative impact that culturally-based ideals of beauty affect self-esteem in dark-skinned women.

The film features various interviews of dark-skinned women from different walks of life, who recall their struggle with those standards.

“I can remember being in the bathtub, asking my mom to put bleach in the water so that my skin would be lighter and so that I could escape the feelings that I had about not being as beautiful, as acceptable, as lovable,” said one woman.

The documentary revealed the huge market for skin whitening products, claiming that its sales grew from $40 to $43 billion worldwide in 2008.

Toward the end, the film called dark-skinned women to embrace who they are.

Afterward, Associate Professor of African-American Studies Dr. Keidra Morris led a discussion by asking students about their reaction to the film.

“I was pleasantly surprised with the documentary,” said social work major Anna Pitonyak. “Something that I learned, that I hadn’t realized within the Black community was the hatred toward each other like about their own skin color being darker or lighter.”

Some students went on to share personal stories about experiences with discrimination.

“I related to this film a lot because I’m originally from Japan, but I didn’t understand discrimination until I came to the States,” said music major Morena Holland. “I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood so I got called the ‘N Word,’ but when I would go to a black community they were like ‘well you’re not black enough cause you’re mixed.’”

Dr. Morris explained the importance in recognizing the roots of colorism, in order to understand how structural racism is still alive today.

“It’s not just for them [dark-skinned women], but it’s also for a larger society to understand the things that they go through and how these things negitively impact them,” said Dr. Morris. “I think it puts the responsibility on us as a larger society, because we as a society do participate in it.”

To become part of the conversation, join the Black Student Union.

Your thoughts?