Look! Bill Duke Presents The Dark Girls Book
I’ve said this before, and it bares repeating: Bill Duke’s Dark Girls documentary was a very powerful and very necessary piece of art.
But I was a bit saddened to find that the documentary seemed to omit the stories of darker complected women who didn’t feel their skin complexion represented shame or oppression. Where were the women like my mother, my aunts and my friends who had always regarded their dark skin as beautiful? Where were the women who had never been made to feel less than because of their complexion?
Perhaps, the follow up to the movie, the coffee table book, with the same name, will serve as the answer. The book features beautiful images of dark skinned women, many of them celebrities with interviews speaking about how colorism affects people in different ways. For instance, the interviewer found that women, who were under the age of 50, did not have the same comfort level like women like Loretta Devine and Sheryl Lee Ralph.
In an interview with The Root, Bill Duke talked about the need for the documentary, book and what readers will find inside.
BD: The book will hopefully display the beauty of our women—particularly and specifically our dark-skinned women. Young boys and men will see a book that portrays dark-skinned women that are successful, have power, have given back to the community and are leaders. Hopefully that will impact their vision, understanding and respect for dark-skinned women.
I also think that the book is attempting to be a tool for young people so that they understand that whatever is said negative about women of dark complexions is a lie.
It is meant to encourage. Young black girls can show it to those people that describe them as anything less than beautiful.
TR: You directed Sister Act 2, and I wonder if it’s a coincidence that the film’s two leading ladies—Whoopi Goldberg and, at that point, a newcomer to the big screen, Lauryn Hill, both chocolate-complexioned women—were cast in those roles. When thinking about your career, do you think you had an ulterior motive to give opportunities to dark-brown actresses who were perhaps being overlooked by Hollywood casting agents?
BD: Yes. I wanted to be able to—well, I’m not choosing people based on their color. But if they’re equally talented, I definitely wanted to make sure that they were not denied the opportunity because of the color of their skin.
I wanted to let people know that these people are beautiful also.