'Dark Girls' film director visits Jarvis College

SARAH A. MILLER/STAFF ACTOR AND DIRECTOR BILL DUKE speaks to students before a special screening of his film “Dark Girls” on Thursday at Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins. The documentary is a NAACP award-nominated documentary that explores the prejudices that dark-skinned women face throughout the world. Duke also has a documentary called “Light Girls” with the same premise.

After seeing what his mother and sister went through as black women, actor and director Bill Duke was motivated to create "Dark Girls," a film that explores colorism between women of all hues. Nearly 200 people gathered at Jarvis Christian College's Meyer Auditorium Thursday for a special screening of the movie and an opportunity to discuss it with Mr. Duke.

"My mother would be proud that I'm bringing this up and that I'm talking about it," Mr. Duke said. "She'd be proud that I'm giving a voice to the voiceless, because in those days we didn't talk about it. My mother just suffered through it, and to speak about it, brought shame, so we just kept quiet."

Glenell Lee- Pruitt, Ph.D, provost and vice-president of academic of affairs at Jarvis Christian College, said after watching the film that she felt emotions she thought were long gone. As a dark-skinned woman, Miss Pruitt, said she believed Mr. Duke's document will make viewers reflect on the idea of colorism and its effect on the world.

"If you haven't seen 'Dark Girls,' you need to see it," she said. "Colorism is such a big issue in the African-American community, and I see it here every day amongst our students. As a dark girl, it's very relevant to our culture, and it's a discussion we need to have."

Freshman Aubrey Johnson, who doesn't identify with being light or dark skinned, attended the event to hear people's perspective of "Dark Girls" and how colorism affect's their daily lives.

"I feel like we get it just as hard as dark-skinned girls, because many times they are like ‘you're mixed', you're not considered black', or ‘you speak proper,' but I'm black," she said. "So, I understand where they are coming from. I feel like they think we're against each other instead of together, but black is beautiful either way it goes."

During a question and answer session, students shared their experiences of colorism and discrimination, while others asked what was the next step in trying to rid the world of seeing color. Although Mr. Duke said he didn't have the answer to that question, he said part of his vision in creating "Dark Girls" was to encourage the community start that discussion. Additionally, he said, loving oneself has to start within, and then the world around can begin to love the person people see in the mirror as well.

"Little girls are still suffering from this idiocy, so we have to take action," Mr. Duke said. "When you see a child being bullied about their skin color you have to step up and say something. Everybody is beautiful, and God doesn't make mistakes."

Twitter: @TMT_Briggs


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