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Skin Color Topic of Conversation at Santa Monica College

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Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Lookout Staff

October 19, 2015 -- Do blacks with dark skin have it harder than their light-skinned counterparts? That was the question director Bill Duke asked in his 2011 documentary.

Now, Duke is reversing the question in his new film “Light Girls,” which will screen at Santa Monica College Tuesday, followed on Thursday with a Q&A discussion with the film’s creator, director, and producer.

“Light Girls” looks at the issue of “colorism” – a hot topic in the Black community – by focusing on the stories of lighter-skinned women from around the world and “diving into the discussion of skin color, privilege, pain, and prejudice,” event organizers said.

Those interviewed include hip-hip entrepreneur Russell Simmons, broadcast journalist Soledad O'Brien, actress and singer Diahann Carroll, inspirational speaker Iyanla Vanzant and writer Michaela Angela Davis.

During the Q&A session Duke, who helped pave the way for African Americans in cinema, will talk about “Light Girls” and the issues it raises, organizers said.

“It’s assumed that light-skinned women have no problems or issues, but they are judged before you know who they are,” Duke told the LA Times. “The thing is one group thinks it’s going through more pain than the other. The fact of the matter is that when you’re in pain emotionally about your life, the color of your skin does not matter.

“Until we heal as a people, in terms of resolving the conflicts of our culture, we have no strength, focus, energy or ability to fight the forces that are externally killing us,” he said.

Duke became familiar to moviegoers for his early roles in Car Wash in 1976 and American Gigolo in 1980, continuing to land roles in major movies and television shows and expanding into a director’s role. Duke received a Lifetime Achievement Tribute from the Directors Guild of America.

Both events are free and will begin at 11:15 a.m. in Room 165 of the SMC Humanities & Social Science building, 1900 Pico Boulevard. The events are sponsored by the SMC Associates ( and SMC Black Collegians. Seating is on a first-arrival basis.

For more information, call 310.434.4100.

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