Do you want to know what it’s like to be a dark-skin girl in America? The documentary “Dark Girls” produced by veteran actor and filmmaker Bill Duke and documentary director and producer D. Channsin Berry opens a window to a world that everybody has an opinion on, an opinion that sometimes manifests itself in insults and shame.

“Dark Girls” is a documentary exploring the deep-seated biases and attitudes about skin color, particularly concerning dark-skinned women, outside of and within Black American culture.

I’m a dark girl so I found this documentary particularly interesting, even groundbreaking, and it certainly generates a lot of thought. Groundbreaking because it is, as far as I know, the first documentary of its kind addressing a Black issue that sheds a disparaging light upon us as a people. Secondly, it’s thought provoking because you have Black men in particular voicing their honest opinion about dark-skin Black women unabashedly, and you hear painful stories from Black women who are finally having their say.

“Dark Girls” opens with a beautiful dark-skin little girl with a sad face speaking about the fact that she doesn’t like to be called Black because she says she’s not Black. Her honey-colored mother sitting beside her says honestly that she cannot relate to her daughter’s problem because she has never faced the issue of skin color. Then she further discusses how in her own way she’s helping to build her daughter’s self-confidence within the family first.

From the rather dramatic opening, nobody wants to see a child in pain, the film canvasses America and women of other nations discussing the impact their dark skin has had on their lives.

Their stories are pretty sad, and they are the kind of stories dark-skin Black women usually keep to themselves.

I remember as a child I used to tell my mother that she didn’t know what it was like for me because my skin was darker than everyone around me, and I had short kinky hair. My mother was the opposite of what I was, so she truly couldn’t relate. Like a lot of dark-skin sisters I had to figure it out on my own.

As I watched the documentary, and listened to the various sad stories told by Black women, I felt at some point I needed a break. I wanted to hear something else, more stories of Black women who ignored the so-called stigma of being dark-skinned in America. They skimmed over the black-is-beautiful era because they said it didn’t stick. But I believe it did, and there are a lot of dark-skin women benefiting from that era through their parents.

Viewers did get positive affirmations at the end of the film from those same sisters who had you reflecting on your own pain when you heard their stories. But it seemed to me just a proper way to end the documentary.

One sister in the film voiced what a lot of us “sisters of the darker hue” felt the first time we saw Michelle Obama. We were so elated to see she was dark complexioned, because the majority of successful Black men opt for lighter-skin Black women, White or Asian women. That’s just the way it is. But when a brother breaks the norm we “sisters of the darker hue” smile inside.

“Dark Girls” is one of those documentaries everyone should see, especially Black women, regardless of their complexion. And understand this; light-skin sisters have their share of grief too. Many of them have stories that will bring you to tears, hurtful things they have had to overcome.

Let’s face it, being a Black woman in America can be very challenging. But God didn’t create wimps when he made us sisters. We help each other celebrate our particular beauty. And the Black men who love us . . . love us.

To learn more about “Dark Girls” and to find out about screenings and other activities, visit their official web site at

Gail can be reached at