Sad…but powerful

February 2, 2007

The attached clip was forwarded to me by a friend. Although I am not a fan of forwards, I didn’t delete this one because the friend who sent it isn’t usually a fan of forwards either. So, I figured that it had to be something worth checking out. I was confused, saddened, outraged and shocked by what I saw.

A little background courtesy of Media That Matters Film Festival

A Girl Like Me

7:08 min
Youth Documentary
Kiri Davis, Director, Reel Works Teen Filmmaking, Producer

Winner of the Diversity Award
Sponsored by Third Millennium Foundation

ABOUT THE FILM

More About A Girl Like Me from Director Kiri Davis

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. I also decided to would reconduct the “doll test” initially conducted by Dr. Kenneth Clark, which was used in the historic desegregation case, Brown vs. Board of Education. I thought that by including this experiment in my film, I would shed new light on how society affects black children today and how little has actually changed.

With help from my mentor, Shola Lynch, and thanks to the honesty and openness of the girls I interviewed, I was able to complete my first documentary in the fall of 2005. I learned that giving the girls an opportunity to talk about these issues and their experiences helped us all to look deeper and examine the many things in society that affect us and shape who we are.

Kiri Davis, Director

I knew from an early age that film was a medium I wanted to work in. Through my films I’ve found a way of expressing myself as well as telling the stories that are important to me. At sixteen, I directed my first documentary, A Girl Like Me. Before that, I created numerous short films and attended the New York Film Academy. I would love to pursue a career in filmmaking as well as to explore my passions for acting and writing. I have a love of traveling, which affords me the opportunity to meet new people and explore other cultures. My goal is to develop more projects that will help my community and give a much needed voice to issues that pertain to people of color. I am currently attending Urban Academy, a NYC public high school, and I live with my mother in Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

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2 Responses to “Sad…but powerful”

  1. babygirl Says:

    wow….quite a powerful piece for a 16 year old, that generates so many
    issues, comments and questions, especially coming form a Caribbean
    background.

    I have had the (dis)pleasure of interacting with the two classic divides of
    this nation through school, attending both a historically black college and
    then a predominantly white school, and i have seen both sides of the fence,
    so to speak. I must say, seeing the views and experiences of being black in
    America always leaves me with the distinct relief that I am Trinidadian,
    Caribbean and that I have had the privilege of growing up having a strong
    self of self and ancestry, and not being ashamed of it. I feel that in the
    Caribbean, Trinidad specifically, we did and do have our race issues, but it
    is not as deeply erosive and damaging as the forces previously and
    presently at work in the USA. I wonder if that doll test was done on
    Caribbean children what the results would be?….food for thought…..makes
    u think of how u actually view yourself and what you want your children to
    experience growing up.

  2. Tamika Says:

    I’m so glad more people are coming across this film- I viewed it some time last year and it left me so bothered.I’m Trinidadian and I agree with the last commenter who has stated that the race issues in Trinidad are not that “erosive and damaging” as those in the USA. However, I believe the only reason that it’s not this way is because most people ignore these issues and are not sensitive to its impact on young people. In Trinidad, we have a “red-skin” or “high colour” and a “nice hair” phenomena.I’m black and I sport my natural hair. I returned home after five years in the US and I’m amazed and disgusted when I hear comments such as “she have real nice hair”- I always ask, “if she has nice hair, then what is bad hair?” The response is always stumbling.The consensus is that bad hair is hard hair that is only acceptable when it is straightened. So I suppose, straight or curly hair is good hair.I’ve heard people say, “I aint want no black man cause I aint want children with hard hair.” If children hear comments like this from a young age, their confidence is eroded and this transcends into other areas of their lives.I believe that simple, often unchallenged statements like these can foster feelings of inferiority that can open way for young people to be intimidated by those people with “good hair.” If you are told you have bad hair,along with all the other negativities that may come your way, it makes it harder to find something nice about yourself. Can you imagine how a child will handle this?
    In Trinidad,there’s always talk about blacks not having a “minority issue” as in the US. Research have shown that White Americans view black Caribbean immigrants in the US as superior in self confidence and work ethic above African Americans(Black Identities; Mary Waters) But let’s come back to our home. While some of our black Trinidadian parents continue to compare their children to those with “nice hair”, I await the day when I can hear a young afro- Trinidadian girl say, “I have lovely natural hair.” I’ll hold my breath to hear this from her parents.


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