Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Films About Black Women: "A Girl Like Me" and "Say My Name"

"Stop that, you're starting to look African"... A young black woman in Kiri Davis' short documentary A Girl Like Me shares the statement her mother made when she began wearing her hair au naturale instead of perming it, relaxing it or adding extensions. In the film, Kiri speaks with young black women and girls about the dilemmas presented to them through notions of beauty and acceptance in black America. Having kinkier hair or a darker skin tone than others has been the basis of self deprecation among black women for ages; the subjects in A Girl Like Me share their first hand experiences with these things. Many black girls are taught from a young age that being light-skinned and having long, fine hair equates with being pretty. This myth has advocated the use of things like skin bleaching creams and relaxing kits (both tend to contain extremely harmful ingredients) while amplifying self-esteem issues among those with dark skin tones or kinky hair.

At one point in the film, an experiment is conducted asking young black children to choose the better between a white doll and a black doll. The results are alarming and by the end of it, had me caught in a moment of deep questioning. The film confronts stereotypes about black women and asks why it has become acceptable to be shameful or over-critical of something as simple as appearance. A Girl Like Me has been featured on television network, HBO and was recipient of the Diversity Award at the 6th annual Media That Matters Film Festival. Check out the film's profile on their site, watch it (below), and be sure to pass it along!

Another noteworthy film to watch out for is Say My Name by Nirit Peled. The film is a showcase on female hip hop artists and it delves deep into the female presence within hip hop culture. While featuring commentary from veterans like MC Lyte, Rah Digga , Jean Grae and Erykah Badu, the film is in no way shy of also spotlighting a number of up-and-comers. These women share their thoughts on both collective and individual responsibilities of female rap artists and lyricists to change the status quo by defying expectations and challenging the extremely male-dominated rap music industry with nothing but sheer talent and enviable street smarts. Watch the trailer and check out the film's profile on Women Make Movies' website for information on screenings and on how to obtain a copy.

A Girl Like Me - Kiri Davis (full)

Say My Name - Nirit Peled (trailer)

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