I recently read an Upworthy post by one of my favorite people on the internet, Franchesca Ramsey, better known as Cheschaleigh, that featured stills from the documentary Dark Girls. The trailer above contains one of the most heart breaking things: a young black girl, no more than five, who identified the picture of the darkest black girl as “dumb” and “ugly” while she identified the picture of the white girl as “smart” and “good looking.” When she was asked why the girl was “dumb and ugly,” she responded “Because she’s black.” For her white skin equals elite and dark skin equals inferior.
Ideally, she should have identified every girl on the picture as smart and beautiful, but she didn’t. She pointed out the darkest girl, the one that looks most like her, as ugly and dumb. It showed how she perceived herself at such a young age. Sadly this is something that is not uncommon when it comes to young black girls. It has always been taught that lighter somehow equals better. The darker your skin, the more unwanted you become. It’s an ugly cycle. These young girls who don’t love themselves at five grow into women who don’t love themselves at 25. Somehow, black girls were taught that they must alter themselves to be accepted.
We have to teach young black girls that they are beautiful, smart, and worthy of love. We have to instill in them everyday that they are perfect. We cannot keep teaching our young black girls that they’re only beautiful if they alter themselves. We have to teach them that with their brown skin and their curly hair, they can be the next president, or astronaut, or doctor, or engineer, or lawyer, or entrepreneur. We have to teach them to love themselves for who they are. We do this by leading as example. We show these young girls the type of self love we want them to have.
(I’ve watched Dark Girls several times and it is a really good documentary. It does a very fine job of allowing these women who have dark skin tell their story and acknowledge the problem. There are some aspects that were lacking in my opinion, but overall it is definitely a good watch. I would recommend the documentary if you’re interested in learning more in depth about problems that black women face.)
[ (for context) The idea of light skin versus dark skin originates from slavery and in many ways is still upheld today. ]