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Thoughts On 'Dark Girls' After Last Night's Broadcast Premiere...?

by Tambay A. Obenson
June 24, 2013 9:33 AM
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Dark Girls

So it aired last night on OWN, and many more of you finally got to see it, after over a year on the film festival circuit. Of course I'm referring to the broadcast premiere of Bill Duke's and D. Channsin Berry's documentary, Dark Girls.

Given how active my Twitter and Facebook feeds were over the 2-hour period, I can only guess that the broadcast was/will be a ratings coup for OWN. When I receive the usual ratings press release today or tomorrow, it'll certainly be posted here.

By the way, if you didn't see it last night on OWN, I'm sure it'll air again soon. It will also be released on DVD on September 24.

I've already reviewed the film (read my review HERE if you missed it), after seeing it over a year ago at the Pan African Film Festival in LA; so now that you all have seen it as well, and given all the debate it spurred on this blog leading up to last night's broadcast, what are your informed reactions to it?

Dig in...

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  • BKNY | June 25, 2013 7:54 AMReply

    The documentary ran for 2 hours and it seemed to me that 60% of that time was devoted to commercials. Did it trouble anyone else that most of those commercials were for skin preparations? There were no new revelations for me; just further confirmation that despite the "progress" we have made as a people there is so much work we still have to do to overcome "colorism" among us.

  • syrich | June 25, 2013 11:29 AM

    OMG!!! I made a similar comment on facebook. The OWN commercials really undermined the impact of this documentary. It should have been aired with limited commercials during its first showing. I felt like I was watching something interesting and thought provoking that was constantly interrupted by foolishness that seem to last 10 to 15 mins. And most of that time was spent hyping OWN/Perry shows. Between "Have and Have Nots, Love Thy Neighbor and the Golden Sisters" I almost did not make it through the entire documentary because I was getting fed up with this repetitive nonsence.

    Anyway, I thought the documentary did a decent job trying to deal with a very sensitive and beleaguered aspect of the American culture especially in the black community. I had a personal interest because I grew up a dark skin girl in Texas, which, as most of you know, borders Louisiana - light skin capital. Many Louisiana blacks migrate to Texas, I spent most of my life being compared and deconstructed. Luckily for me I am from a strong Texas proud family who made me feel like I was God's greatest gift. So I used this inner strength to overcome and embrace not only my beauty but also the beauty of all the many shades of black that my sisters are blessed with. Although I feel I fought a good fight, I still have many wounds from many not so successful battles, which is why, my heart still breaks when I hear these sort of stories. This is one reason I always make sure when I see a little dark skin girl looking sad, to tell her how beautiful she is especially because of her complexion. I believe all girls should be treated like they are pretty and special.

  • Orville | June 24, 2013 10:57 PMReply

    I liked the documentary and I loved how it pointed out the hypocrisy of the black heterosexual men. A lot of those black rappers and regular black men preach about black pride yet they are quick to sleep with a Latina or a mixed race woman with long hair yet scorn the darker skinned black women. I mean, it is fine if the black heterosexual men prefer other races, but it seemed to me watching Dark Girls that some straight black men actually hate black women. I think that was the most thought provoking and profound part of the documentary for me. The internal racism and the hatred between black men and dark skinned women was a really surprising to see.

  • LVFLG | June 24, 2013 10:31 PMReply

    Dark Girls covered alot of territory - perhaps too much for one doc, but the issues presented, clearly needed to be, at this point in time. BUT those commercial breaks! How many were there? 100? I felt the commercial breaks interrupted the flow of the narrative.
    Oh the other hand - B4 the doc - I just loved the talk with the ladies, all of them. I have to say, in my book Viola Davis can do NO wrong - I first saw her in August Wilson's Seven Guitars on Broadway - she was fantastic and she has carried that dynamism to the silver screen. I am glad to hear that she, as well as some of the other actresses are forming their own production companies to get their own ["OWN"] work produced. I wish them well.

  • ScriptTease | June 24, 2013 9:45 PMReply

    Some say Dark Girls wasn't necessary, and IMO, it was. Just like Dove is trying to let young girls know they are beautiful no matter what their size... I believe this is something all black folks should've watched, especially the ones who place light skin on a pedestal. This was so sad for me to watch, especially the little girl who didn't want to be called black, and she was so beautiful. COLORISM is big big part in the problems black folks have. To me it has caused, and it's still causing a chain reaction of events that is plaguing the black community. A never ending cycle. Young black girls not feeling loved, so they follow in their mothers footsteps and have multiple babies, from multiple boys, producing multiple fatherless kids who repeat the same old cycle. So to act like this skin tone issue is not an issue, you are either BLIND or part of the PROBLEM. I do believe strongly in my heart and soul, that if black folks can get over this color hump, than we can begin to heal, but until then, we will forever hate one another.

  • Cali | June 24, 2013 4:40 PMReply

    I'm hearing a lot of "get over it/I'm over it/nothing new here" comments, but I think with the topic still being relevant today, its an important piece. The film could open some eyes (or at least create a NEW dialogue) for people who contribute negatively to colorism, which makes it worth the watch.

    & I, too, thought the commercial breaks were insanely abrupt! They needed a bump in/out graphic (or at least a lower third) to set the show apart from the commercials.

    Lastly, the talk preceding the doc was pretty good. Everyone was very forthcoming, I could have listened for another hour.

  • cocoa puffed | June 24, 2013 12:14 PMReply

    my dark skin has not kept me from living a full life nor will i be convinced that it was supposed to or that it eventually will.
    i understand how real racism is... we still die because of our skin tone... but the real gravity of racism is the way it forces the oppressed to see his or herself.
    a decision has to be made to not give merit to thought patterns OR PEOPLE who believe that having dark skin is detrimental especially when there are just soooo many examples of "approved" blackness that don't pass the brown paper bag test.
    if the historical context of colorism had been the focus instead of the woe is me i'm dark pity party, i might have thought the doc necessary.
    all in all, i think dark girls the documentary is pretty pointless.

  • ZCK | June 26, 2013 10:07 AM

    Good for you for not having to go thru what most dark skin women have had to endure. BUT that doesn't make this movie pointless. I've never been raped either, but that doesn't mean I should turn a blind eye to women who've been through it. You should be trying to uplift sisters who are not as lucky as you, instead of just ignoring the problem. I admit, as a dark skin female, this documentary wasn't really news to me, but I think that a lot of Black men have no idea why they prefer light skin women to dark skin women. Most of them in the movie didn't even have a valid reason other than, "they just look better". This movie showed that this is a real problem that reaches a global level. We need to stop only caring about the person in the mirror, and realize that problems that affect some Black women really affects ALL Black women.

  • JenniGolightly | June 25, 2013 3:52 PM

    I don't see how it is pointless. Contrary to popular belief, there are PLENTY of people who have no idea about the historical context or current problems with colorism in the Black community and I think having this type of doc is necessary to call it out. Because for Black folks, we talk a lot about racism from non-Blacks, but we are often plagued too by colorism from within even after we seek solace from outsider racism. And that problem reaches a 100 fold level for dark skin Black women (and can also be problematic for light skin Black males).

    Additionally, I think this documentary puts into context Black men's role in the issue. While Black men are allowed to maintain their Africanesque features (darker skin, broader nose, kinky hair) and Black women still consider them fine/beautiful, the reverse often does not happen. Instead, we see "yellabones" and light skin women put on pedestals. You would be surprised how many Black men don't know that they are practicing colorists. and those that do know don't realize the type of affect it actually has on the community at large.

    So no, I think the documentary had a point. It was to spark discussion amongst a generation that has grown weary of talking about it because things have only gotten worse, and a newer generation who may even fail to understand it exists and why its wrong. That's a good thing I think, no matter how long the commercials were (Oprah got bills too).

  • FactChecker | June 24, 2013 10:58 AMReply

    It definitely started out a little slow -- and long -- with the grievances from black American women -- sharing their stories, but it found its footing about 3/4 of the way in by introducing voices from the African, and Asian, Diaspora, to the conversation. ... I wish they would have pushed the white woman who worked in the tanning salon a little more about wanting to be darker, but I suppose that's a different documentary.

    As a side note: We all now understand WHY GU was chosen to participate in the preceding panel discussion about being a black actress in Hollywood.

    Was anyone else as fascinated by GU's self-outing that she's had a "meangirls" mentality against other black women since the age of five, and felt the need to come clean at the annual Essence Hollywood Luncheon? I thought that was the best part of the entire hour.

    I thought all four of the actresses were very forthcoming. They're all established enough, at this stage in their careers, to be able to speak their mind on issues of race and not feel as though they might face any kind of retribution. Plus, it's not like any white people of influence in Hollywood were watching this. And if they were it's not going to be watercooler conversation, this morning, for them in their offices or on set.

    And, really, I think Viola needs to be credited with opening the door for more mainstream discourse on the ongoing conversation about race and the dearth of meaty, meaningful, roles, for black women in Hollywood. ... No one else has been as forward-speaking, and direct, as she has about the challenges that she -- and other black actresses -- face. ... Others have followed her lead, but she's really been at the forefront. And should be commended for her courage and bravery, 'cause I've not seen/read a lot of people backing her up. They may agree and support her, but it's a quiet, backseat of the movie theater-kind-of-support.

    Finally, could they run any more promos for TP's awful shows, throughout the three hours of these two program? Yesh! Talk about OVERBOARD! I swear the rotation, between commercials, felt like 20 per hour.

  • ALM | June 24, 2013 11:53 AM

    @ Factchecker: I do not always agree with your comments, but weren't those commercials abrupt? With the way that OWN had the commercials set up, I kept expecting the golden ladies to give commentary on skin tone....LOL

    I will probably come back with more commentary later, but I will say this for now:

    I appreciated Gabrielle's honesty, and I was really surprised to hear this from Gabrielle. In my eyes, she has been the “it” African American girl in Hollywood until very recently (with the rise of Kerry Washington’s career). Gabby has had a TON of roles, so it’s weird to hear about this level of jealousy from her.

    The jealousy is wrong no matter what, but I would have expected the hate and jealousy more from one of her peers who was not working as much as she as always worked. I remember her saying that the execs would tell her, “If we go with a Black girl it will definitely be you”. That type of talk from the studios apparently had her mind pumped up into thinking that with the scarcity of roles she would always be the “go to” actress. It gave her a sense of entitlement, and in the times when someone else got the role she was unable to handle the loss gracefully.

  • Phill | June 24, 2013 10:52 AMReply

    I appreciated OWN giving the film and the subject the platform to seen and discussed. I didn't finish it. We decided that it was probably better for young people or folks without any historical context for the issues. There wasn't a depth to it. Again, I still think it was valuable and spurred some necessary dialogue.

  • Ashley | June 24, 2013 11:57 AM

    I totally agree.

  • Vanessa Martinez | June 24, 2013 10:44 AMReply

    It was a good doc to engage a wider audience, who may not be conscious of the impact and significance of this issue. However, for some of us, "Dark Girls" could have had more insightful interviews; plus it could've have shed more light into the issue within a historical context, especially when it came to the media. I didn't learn anything new.

  • CC | June 24, 2013 10:18 PM

    I thought that the documentary was not enlightening at all. And to begin with that beautiful black child talking about how she didn't want to be called "black". I said to myself that her parents are clearly not affirming her at home. There is no way she can be as chocolatety and cute as she is and not know it. I didn't finish "dark girls"

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