by Taimour Fazlani

Dark Girls is a documentary-film that brings to the screen an ensemble of intimate accounts that entice the audience into a poignant experience which studies the indignities faced daily by dark-complexioned African-American women.

The documentary, which is the brainchild of Dr. Channsin Berry also includes interviews with objective psychologists, social commentators and doctors that provide the viewer with the historical and societal contexts to colourism. In this case it is slavery and the colonial mind-set, which are eloquently analysed so that the viewer is given a more comprehensive study of the broader context and history.

Whilst such objective interviews do quite well in their specified purpose it is the personal and subjective experiences of the women that truly take the viewer on an emotional journey. This for me is what signifies the real attraction to this documentary-film, the honest expression by women who have faced discrimination in and outside of their own communities.

The film also loos at the issue from an international viewpoint, the continent of Africa to be specific. The criticism of the skin-whitening industry and the health dangers associated with the usage of such products was hit home through the use of statistics. The fact that dark-skin is valued within Ethiopian society was mentioned was invaluable for me personally. This is purely due to the fact this illustrated a society which provides a model from which certain elements can be studied if colourism is to be challenged in the western hemisphere.

dark-girls‘Dark Girls’  examines the views of who they believe to be the main perpetuators of such attitudes, men. A mixture of emotions came to mind when I heard predominantly black men converse with each other about their opinions on dark complexioned women. One criticism for this section of the film is that statistics should have been sought and given to provide a clearer picture, because if one was to watch this film without much background knowledge of the topic they may get the idea that it’s the black male attitude which is the main issue rather then the broader framework that exists. Statistics charting the attitudes of men from all complexions would be beneficial in this situation, as they would demonstrate the misogynistic and patriarchal attitudes that subsist and enforces this colourism.

I was eager—even desperate—to hear dark Black women and their experiences in the film, I also knew that the film would skirt around White supremacist capitalist patriarchy, Eurocentric beauty myths and the ways in which they create colourism and enforce it today. Trudy, Gradient Lair

The documentary-film, which attracted an energetic and enlightened crowd from all walks of life to it’s screening, served the elementary purpose of providing an avenue where dialogue could be undertaken by those directly affected and those willing to help.  Although at certain points within the evening the focus did find itself being shifted to a general discussion on racism rather then the the specific one on colourism which we had come for, a subject that has long been ignored depsite it’s detrimental effects.

Another area which this reviewer felt could have been better developed was the conclusion. The film ends on a note, which places emphasis on self-love for women of darker complexions. While the message of ‘love yourself’ certainly plays an important role in developing self-esteem on a personal level it fails to recognise the broader structural discrimination faced by such individuals in their daily lives in the workplace, society and the social relationships in which they share.

After hearing of their experiences and creating a bond with those presented I felt it would be unjust to part with the subject by merely attending to the personal issues and not the wider barriers, which affect the women.

The more attention we bring to this (in)visible system of prejudice and oppression based on the belief that “white is right” and “if you’re black, get back,” the greater our chances of repairing America’s larger “racial project” and promoting a society that can appreciate the beauty and ability of all people, regardless of skin tone. J.N Salters

Despite the minor shortcomings of the film and event itself, both are hard to fault for they have produced and undertaken works that have achieved the ultimate aim of opening dialogue on a mass-platform, this is what is instrumental in challenging the contemporary status-quo when it comes to dark-complexioned women.

vibe-vixen-dark-girlsDialogue, which moreover inhibits such a strong emotional attachment to those directly affected. Before the film started I turned and asked one young lady next to me

do you feel strongly about this?’…

she replies with a firmness in her tone

yes I do’.

It is such events that are needed if we are to empower women and get everyone else shouting the same reply of

Yes I care’…

because I left that evening truly caring.

Taimour Fazlani is an activist with with a keen interest in subject matters, ranging from metaphysics to economic systems. Born and raised in Karachi he has since lived in Glasgow and London. A book addict with a passion for documenting injustices encompassing the whole globe. When not at a protest, demonstration or social events, he can be found training in Muay Thai.  @taimour_khan Website Taimour Fazlani

DARK GIRLS premiered in the USA on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN channel in In June 2013.

Profits from the evening were donated to the charity “Make Every Woman Count”, a young African women-led organisation that promotes and advocates for the empowerment and rights of African women and girls.


3 thoughts on “‘Dark Girls’ The @WritersofColour Review

  1. I despair if the world will ever be rid of such reductive and senseless prejudices since it affects not just black women of African origin but dark-skinned women from many different cultures and countries the world wide (e.g the fact that a lot of far-east Asian women protect their skin with umbrellas during hot weather so that they don’t darken, the popularity of skin lightening products in India and its endorsement by Indian celebrities and the discrimination often experienced by darker skinned Arab men and women in countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Libya and Iraq to name a few)


    1. I get exactly what you are saying, this is one thing tat affects all people of ‘colour’ around the globe. and yes, though it may seem a heavy task to rid the world of this it is doable. I have personally been affected by such discrimination, so it is a topic that hits home. I am glad to see that you are well versed on this and took the time out to discuss further. i havewritten about this for Asia too. If you wish I shall give you the link? How do you think wecan battle this?


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