[B]lacks in this country are not only stereotyped by other races, but within their own race as well. This is called colorism, which is a type of discrimination. The “brown paper bag test” was a method used decades ago by upper-class Black people. The goal was to determine if a Black person met the standards to be accepted into a social circle. Many sororities and fraternities also used this method for determining who could be let in that specific group.
|Race has been a topic in Hip-Hop music for years. In fact, Del Tha Funkee Homosapien discussed the issue of lightskinned vs darkskinned in his controversial song “Dark Skin Girls.” In 2008, rapper Yung Berg ran into trouble when he said he didn’t like “dark butts” and that he preferred women of a lighter complexion. Even in 2015, “acting lighskinned” has become a popular term to describe someone being overly emotional.|
Often, more time is spent looking at a persons complexion as opposed to seeking what’s on the inside. For hundreds of years now, a myth has been perpetuated that a person with a darker skin tone isn’t as pretty or good-looking as the person with the lighter skinned complexion.
While one is certainly allowed preferences, the problem comes when the skin color becomes a factor to discriminate. The subject was brought up in the 2013 premiere of “Dark Girls,” which aired on the OWN Network.
After the documentary was aired, the director, Bill Duke received a phone call from Shelia P. Moses who encouraged him to make a book out of this documentary. They teamed up to turn the hit documentary into a book.
“The book will hopefully display the beauty of our women–particularly and specifically our dark-skinned women,” said Bill Duke. “It is meant to encourage. Young Black girls can show it to those people that describe them as anything less than beautiful.”
Believe it or not, Bill Duke actually used the “brown paper bag test” during the selection process for the women featured in”Dark Girls.”
“The women in this book are darker than that bag, and unfortunately our society still gives preference to those who are lighter,” Bill Duke said. “Some of the beautiful women featured here are very dark, and others are just the darkest in their own families.”
Moses interviewed and photographed high-profiled black women such as Lupita Nyong’o, Vanessa Williams, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and more.”I learned that all women are ‘dark girls’ at some point in their lives. This speaks to worthiness and self-esteem,” added D. Channsin Berry, co-director of the documentary.
“The Dark Girls” book is a photo journal that honors and appreciates the variations of skin tones. The book is now available on Amazon.