Filmmakers Explore Prejudice Toward Dark-Skinned Women Within Black Community

Ralf Nau

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of it and to gather the funds to do it. We’re still shooting and we’re on IndieGoGo trying to get finishing funds for the film. But it’s a very important question you asked previously about it being harder to get dollars for these kinds of projects. It’s almost impossible. That’s why we went into our own pockets and decided that this was something that had to be done. And so we’re investing our own dollars in it because we believe in it.

EBONY: How did you find the subjects for the movie?

Berry:    Well, that was kind of easy. It’s what I call the friends and family plan. [he laughs] That was kind of easy because Bill and I, being who we are, knowing a lot of people and having a lot of friends who love us and we love them as much, it was easy. It was telephone calls away. Basically, we started off with friends and family. We started off here in L.A. with some friends and some students of Bill’s from his boot camp. We just asked questions and it was easy. As painful as it is, it was easy. Thank God that these women liked to talk and wanted to talk because they had something to get off their chests.

Duke:    Then it evolved, though. It evolved into a larger community. Once people heard about it, they started called us and then we expanded the vision. Because we thought, in the beginning, that a lot of it was going to come from racist America, but colorism is something that’s internally bred within our own culture. So we went out to psychiatrist, psychologists, sociologists, historians. It includes a lot of Black men. We included White males, some whom are married to Black females to get their perspective. We’ve done quite a bit of research and also included a larger spectrum of people in the movie.

Berry:    We have Asians, Asian women. We’re talking to Filipina women. We’re talking to Hispanic women. We’re talking to women from Panama, from Haiti, from Ethiopia, because they all have the same issues.

EBONY: OK. What is the common theme? You spoke to a wide variety of women. What’s the one thing that seemed to echo in all of them in their struggle, and in what they’ve dealt with because of their complexion?

Duke:    Pain. When others hurt us, we act with anger or resentment and may even wish to kind of retaliate. But the actions will just prolong the pain. Holding on makes it even worse; holding onto the pain makes it even worse. And the self-degradation was a common theme, also. Once it was accepted that they were not attractive enough to meet standards, whether external standards of society or internal family standards, they all started to augment their ugliness, their self-perceived ugliness with weaves, wigs, extensions and make-up and skin lightening, whatever would makes them look like what was acceptable to the other family or society.

Berry:     It was very painful. It’s very, very painful. I mean, Bill and I talk about the intercultural racism that occurs. If White folks walked away from us, we would still have this problem. If they projected nothing else on us, we would still have this problem about ourselves. And you know, as we think, so we become.

EBONY: It’s a difficult movie to watch. Were there any women who said, “I learned early to love myself, no matter what?”

Duke:    Yes, there are a number of people we’re gathering who fought these demons and have overcome them and are successful and some are very powerful, yes. That is part of the movie. In addition, we really have some incredible people we have brought into the movie who are great advisors. They really talk about historical roots of this and how to begin to deal with it in a healing fashion. So, this is not just a pity party. We definitely present the problem, but we also present potential solutions if people are willing to do what’s necessary to be done to heal. We’re just filmmakers. Our responsibility, we feel, is to honestly, clearly and thoroughly create a discussion about something that’s well researched and then present possible solutions to the problem. But, we can’t make anybody do anything.

Berry:     To add to what Bill just said, that film won’t eradicate the problem or, you know, lift the disease of self-esteem. Hopefully, it’s just to bring light or bring truth to an issue so people, so these women, can heal. It’s about saying to yourself that, as Bill says, “God said I’m good the way that I am, and I need to live in that, breathe in that, love in that.” That’s all it is.

EBONY: Is it going to be in theatre or is it going to hit select markets