A Girl Like Me

This is a fascinating and heartbreaking* look at how young Black women (and a few young Black men) see themselves, the pressures they feel around their Blackness, and their relation to their roots. Entirely work-safe. Kudos to Ms. Davis for the superb film.

Edit: As Shaker codeman38 points out, I completely failed to take into account the needs of Deaf people here, and I'm sorry for that. I don't have time to add a transcript to the post, and codeman38 informs me that the automatic transcription is useless. If anyone has time to do a transcript, I'd be most appreciative.

More edit: Shakers TheChemist and nomethegnome both leapt to do their All-In best, and a transcript is now appended.

For my high-school literature class I was constructing an anthology with a wide range of different stories that I believed reflected the black girl’s experience. For the different chapters, I conducted interviews with a variety of black girls in my high school, and a number of issues surfaced concerning the standards of beauty imposed on today’s black girls and how this affects their self-image. I thought this topic would make an interesting film and so when I was accepted into the Reel Works Teen Filmmaking program, I set out to explore these issues.- Filmmaker Kiri Davis, on how she came to make the film.
Tip of the CaitieCap to Emily W for the link.

* From my privileged white point-of-view, of course; nothing in here will be news to those who've grown up without that.

Transcript below the jump, provided by Shaker nomethegnome; my gratitude also to TheChemist, who also did a transcription.

Stephanie: Every black female has a big butt and big boobs.

Glenda: Loud, obnoxious...Ghetto.

Jennifer: Light skin being more attractive than dark skin.

Wahida: That we're not smart...We're this way, we're that way and...A lot of times we have to prove ourselves as [that] not being true.

(Voiceover: At a young age, I already knew the standards for a girl like me. As I become older, they become more obvious.)

Stephanie: You have to have permed hair, relaxed hair...

Wahida: You know, straight hair, or like blonde hair...You know, long waves or something.

Stephanie: And if it's natural, that's even, that's, that's good hair. Like bad hair is hair you have to relax, because it's kinky...

Wahida: Like it's not like appealing to have, like natural hair styles. Or like if they are natural, they
have to be like the curly haired black girl, or something who looks mixed or something.

Stephanie: Like I remember when I first started to wear my hair natural, at first my mom was okay with it, and she, she thought it looked nice. And then after like the second day, she was like "Oh, stop that." She was like, "You're starting to look African". I was like, "Well, I AM African" and that really pissed me off.

Glenda: There are standards that are imposed upon us, like, um...You know, you're pretty, you're prettier if you're light-skinned.

Wahida: I knew people in the past that like, just like, wanted to be light-skinned. Not for any particular reason...You know, 'cause they loved theirselves...I mean they, they loved theirselves except, you know, for the color of their skin.

Jennifer: My siblings are all lighter than me and my um...My mom, she's dark-skinned, but she's lighter than me. So, like, I noticed and I was like, "Hey how come I'm the darkest, and, you know, everybody else is so light?" And...I don't know. Since I was younger I, I also considered being lighter as a form of beauty. Or, you know, beautifu- more, but...beautiful than being dark skinned. So I used to think of myself as being ugly 'cause I was dark skinned.

Wahida: I knew people who actually, like, went out there and got, you know, bleaching cream and everything.
They actually like, laid in the tub, with like, and poured capfuls of bleach into it, just so they can, like, see if their skin would get lighter.

Stephanie: But yeah my aunt that lives in Honduras, she basically started using skin bleaching cream when she was about 25...And she started her oldest daughter on it when she was about 11. And then she has an even younger daughter that was about 6 when she started using the skin bleaching cream on her.

Glenda: I've seen people say that "I would never marry a dark-skinned man, because, you know, because I don't want that in my gene pool."

Wahida: On the other hand, light-skinned girls have their issues too...We've been called "high yella", "conceited house nigga"...I feel like both sides have their issues.

Jennifer: I guess I sort of felt, like, there was not any attention towards me because of maybe my skin color, or because my hair was kinky, or...You know, just basically that. Or even when...Also when I was younger, like, say, there're like...Say there was, I don't know, a doll...I used to have a lot of dolls, but most of them were just white dolls with long, straight hair that I would comb. And I would be like, "Oh, I wish I was just like this barbie doll."

(Voiceover: In Brown versus Board of Education, the famous case that desegregated schools in the 1950s, Dr. Kenneth Clark conducted a doll test with black children. He asked them to choose between a black doll and a white doll. In most instances, the majority of the children preferred the white doll.
I decided to reconduct this test, as Dr. Clark did, to see how we've progressed since then.)

Narrator: Can you show me the doll that you like best, or that you like to play with?

[First child holds up white doll]

Second child: This one.
[Picks up white doll]

Third child: This one.
[Touches white doll]

Fourth child: I like that one.
[Points to white doll]

[Fifth child picks up white doll]

[Sixth child picks white doll]

[Seventh child picks black doll]

Eighth child: This one.
[Puts down black doll, points to white]

Narrator: That one?
[Ninth child picks black doll]

Tenth child: This one.
[Pats white doll]

Eleventh child: I like to play with...This.
[Chooses black doll]

Narrator: And can you show me the doll that is the nice doll?
[Seventh child picks up white doll]
Narrator: And why is that the nice doll?
Seventh child: She's white.

Narrator: And can you show me the doll that looks bad?
[First child picks up black doll]
Narrator: Okay. And can you give...And why does that look bad?
First child: Because it's black.
Narrator: Hmm...And why do you think that's a nice doll?
First child: Because she's white.
Narrator: And can you give me the doll that looks like you?
[Child pushes black doll forward]

[Voiceover: 15 out of the 21 children preferred the white doll.]

Glenda: Our ancestors came to this country, and they were pretty much ripped, ripped out of their culture. You know, they couldn't speak their language, they couldn't, you know, they couldn't be themselves. They had to be what everyone else told them to be.

Illiana: When you don't know where you're from, and you don't know what country you're from, all you know is, basically, you're from Africa, and that's all you're given...I feel like it brings on like, a lot of ignorance and it, it builds a lot of anger. I've seen, like, I've seen it build a lot of anger in a lot of black young females. Like, I don't know, they feel like because they...They feel like they have a right to disown any kind of, you know, African roots.

Jennifer: I think for a black girl in general, it's like you're missing a piece of you, you know. For me, it's like, I don't have any...Any actual...Heritage? Not heritage, but like...Culture. Like, I know I'm from Africa, but, you know, different...The different countries in Africa have their different cultures, their different morals, their different values. And not knowing that, it just, it, it sort of keeps us at a loss...And we just...I feel like we're busy searching for it, while everybody else in society is throwing their ideas, and what they believe what we should be, at us. But, you know, personally, we know that that's not what we should be, but we're gonna take it because we don't know exactly what we should be, because we don't really know where we come from.

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