“Why are we bringing our dirty laundry out in public? Because it’s stinking up the house!” These are the words of Bill Duke and D. Channsin Berry, co-directors and co-producers of Dark Girls, a new documentary which explores the deeply rooted bias and low self-esteem that, according to the film, dark skinned women of all ages experience. The poignant, raw, no holds barred interviews featured in the film open a dialogue on this shameful phenomenon.
Duke, who is a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Tribute from the Director’s Guild of America, has helmed films such as A Rage in Harlem and Deep Cover, and acted in everything from American Gigolo to X-Men: The Last Stand, opened up to The Grio about his latest film.
WATCH THE TRAILER FOR ‘DARK GIRLS’ HERE:
theGrio: This is a thoughtful and powerful, and surely controversial documentary. What inspired you to make it, and why at this particular point in time?
Bill Duke: It came out of an idea I had based upon my childhood, what I’d gone through and seen, and what I’d seen people that I loved go through, like my sister, my niece, and other children in my family, and in my life, and I wanted to really give a voice to the voiceless. I brought the idea to Channsin Berry, my co-executive producer and director. We’d tried to get some investment dollars and we couldn’t find them, so we invested our own money — which is not painless. And why now? Colorism is unfortunately still an issue today. Dark skin is considered less than light skin in the in the minds of many in our community and in the media. We thought that finally it should be addressed, to give a voice to the voiceless.
Many of us like to believe this intense colorism within us as a people is a relic of the past, or at the very least, is on the decline. What you two most painfully brought to light, in my mind, was the ignorance of our younger generation. The 5-year-old who identifies the darkest doll as stupid and ugly, and the young man who says he wouldn’t date a woman with dark skin because, he says ‘they look funny beside me.’ What’s going on here?
Isn’t it amazing though? There’s a rapper, I’ve forgotten his name, he just did a video recently and on the call sheet for auditions, he literally stated ‘no dark skinned women need apply.’ Isn’t that something?