I’ve suffered, oh how I have suffered this past year with writers block and a multitude of other excuses NOT to write until last night. After watching Light Girls on OWN I’m now bum-rushed with a multitude of self-centered attitudes and opinions that I think everyone ought to read about…
My intention was to watch this piece with a an open heart and mind. I wanted to allow myself to step beyond my own experience and see if this dialogue would serve as a haven for yellow girls who may not have ever felt like anyone related to their experience. I had hoped that this would be an opportunity to walk away from the message with an enlightened frame of mind or a broader scope of opinion. I believe I was failed in my expectation. Although the discussion had major potential as an instrument of societal education, it ended up being a divisive mess.
Without re-hatching the entire documentary, here’s where I believe the show could have been powerful.
It seemed to me that the participants were encouraged to reveal their negative experiences as light skinned women in a tit-for-tat match in comparison to the oppression and rejection that dark skinned women typically face. At least, it was edited to to depict that. I think that if they had narrowed the narrative and spent more time focusing on the real ways in which our experience as light skinned women differs from those of our deeply melanated sistren, we would have actually gotten somewhere.
Showcasing real-life-fly-on-the-wall experiences of how being light skinned can make us privy to places and permit exposure to experiences that our counterparts are often refused or outright shunned. Examples from these women of how growing up in a world so deeply divided by shadism has effected the way in which we must tread through society. I’ve recently been in a position to have to explain to a client that yes, I am Black and no, I’d rather not “pass” as something else even though I can get away with it; This “conversation” occurred in a boardroom. To me, I see situations such as these as sad abuses of my identity and to express these experiences lends voice to the fact that mal-acceptance and rejection happens to practically all non-white people at onetime or another.
I wish they had talked about understanding the power of our visibility because that’s what “light skinned privilege” really boils down to doesn’t it? Being a woman and being visible.
Being approved of to be heard and seen and loved. Having your right to exist validated because of the shade of your complexion. “Passers” understood this years ago and it’s quantified in the mainstream media today.
They could have discussed the heart-felt obligation which drives some of us to over-compensate our “Blackness” by being uber vigilant and outspoken on social issues which plague the Black community, many of which do not impact our own social lives directly. The need to be apologetic for being born a shade apart from our own people.
Instead of flagrantly and distastefully daring to insinuate violence and sexual assault as things that only light skinned women experience, they could have shed light on some of the things that set light skinned and bi/multi racial women on different courses of social development from early stages in life.
Other than a few key elements, I enjoyed hearing from Angela Davis, Soledad O’Brien, Amber-Rose and Iyanla) this film lacked a cohesive dialog which eventually lead somewhere. The commentary included far too many men and women who aren’t even light skinned to begin with. In other words it was empty.
Although this movie had the potential to unite WOC, I fear it may have further fragmented our already fragile unity as kindred. In order for a film like this to work, it would have to be met with some serious empathy and I just don’t think it was presented in the right package.
I will say that the one positive I took from this documentary is the outright refusal to apologize for who I am, my genetic makeup, my experiences in this life as a human being or denounce myself out of the cultural diaspora for not being considered Black enough.
If anything, it further reinforced my desire to pay closer attention to each and every break I am given in this world and use it to make a way for someone else. Not because I’m anyone’s hero but more because, what’s the point of having privilege or power if one doesn’t A) Recognize it and B) Utilize it.
How to do all of this is where the challenge lies… Any feedback is welcomed. Unpacking and deconstructing this reality is a most fragile and difficult thing to do.
These are simply my opinions.
Light Reflected Is Enlightenment Infinite