Monday, June 24, 2013
Straight from a "Dark Girl's" Mouth
This afternoon, I finally got around to watching "Dark Girls," the much talked about documentary exploring colorism and prejudices against dark-skinned women. Being that I'm one of the few people in the universe who doesn't have cable, I initially had no plans on watching it; however, after reading the rather interesting commentary from Facebook and Twitter I decided to take a peek and see what all the fuss was about. While I sympathize with some of the painful reflections that the women in the documentary described, as a dark-skinned woman, I honestly couldn't relate to any of their experiences. Maybe I grew up under a rock, but my skin color was something that never really crossed my mind. I always knew that I was beautiful, and from the time I was old enough to walk I was taught to enter a room as if I owned it, and not to entertain anything that suggested otherwise. The idea of having unshakable confidence in my beauty was not something I learned from being told. It was something I learned from watching and observing. The women in my family come in a variety of hues, from my lighter-skinned grandmother to my darker-skinned youngest aunt, and all shades of brown in between. Regardless of their skin tone, the one thing they all had in common was a confidence and regality in the way they carried themselves...a sense of esteem that made people sit up and take notice when they walked into a room. And fortunately for me, I didn't just see confident dark-skinned women in my family. I saw them in my church and in the hallways of my elementary school, demonstrating for me day in and day out that having that "It Factor" had nothing to do with your skin tone; when you know in your own mind that you're "all that," the world can't help but to think so too.
To me, one of the first steps in repairing the rift of colorism is in shaping the minds of our young ladies. There is nowhere that I'm more cognizant of that than in my role as a teacher and mentor. Everyday that I step into my classroom, I try to model for my female students self-confidence in action, the same way that my mother, grandmother, aunts, teachers, and other women I knew growing up modeled it for me. Our girls (and not just dark-skinned girls, but ALL girls) must be taught to own their beauty, regardless of what society, the media, the opposite sex, or people within their own race tell them. That lesson starts with us as women.
So ladies of color, no matter where you are or what you may be doing, hold your head high, square your shoulders back, and put that "I know I'm the shit" sway in your walk, regardless of your skin tone. Some little "dark girl" you don't even know just might be watching.