Even When ‘Light Girls’ Tell Their Stories, the Narrative Still Rests on the Degradation of ‘Dark Girls.’

Light Girls

Light Girls, Bill Duke’s attempt to show the other side of the story originally told in his other documentary Dark Girls aired last night to much discussion online.

I honestly wasn’t expecting much from the documentary, but I still found the framing of some of the stories told throughout the documentary pretty disturbing. While the two-hour documentary featured larger discussions about how European beauty standards affect people of color, no matter where they fall on the skin tone spectrum, the documentary kept stopping short of white supremacy. Instead, it kept reverting its focus back to personal narratives and interpersonal, intra-racial conflicts.

The conclusions drawn in these narratives distilled intra-racial conflict down to petty jealousy, ignoring the role of white supremacy in such conflicts — essentially reducing darker skinned girls to jealous bullies. The rather disturbing assertion, at one point, that lighter skinned girls are more likely to be molested than darker girls, ignored how rape culture deems some victims more credible and worthy of defense than others based on their physical appearance.

The pièce de résistance was a segment that went on for much too long, featuring black men talking abut spouting out degrading, misogynoirist tropes to explain why they prefer a specific type of black woman with an exotic appearance, or prefer to date non-black women. These conversations, like much of the documentary appeared to take place in a vacuum, devoid of patriarchy.