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ABC7's Jummy Olabanji shares her experience taking on controversial issue of skin color

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Some of you may be wondering why I felt it was necessary to report on such a touchy, controversial and sensitive subject. Truth be told, this story was brought to my attention by someone like you: one of our viewers.

It all started a few months ago when a viewer tweeted me the link to the Dark Girls movie trailer and asked me what I thought about it. So I watched. Had I heard about the issue before? Yes, I had, but I have never seen it tackled quite like this. In fact, the day the clip was released, it went viral. It spread like wildfire on the Internet and on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Thousands of people, mainly women, were sharing it and talking about it.

After talking to the film’s directors this week, I found out that the trailer got more than 800,000 views in more than 150 countries in just a few days. Interestingly enough, the Washington D.C. area had some of the highest clicks of any city in the United States. Knowing those facts alone I knew this was newsworthy, so I approached my news managers here at ABC7 and told them I wanted to do the story.

I knew it would be a difficult one to produce but I also know that sometimes it’s important to leave our comfort zone to be able to tell the kinds of stories at the heart of our community. Some may feel this isn't news. Some may feel it’s old news. It may not be a brand new concept but it's certainly one that's taken on a new spin.

To me this is an important story because it brings to light some of the issues that have plagued this country since its inception. Discrimination is one thing many talk about but few will admit still exists. I think even more interesting is the fact that much discrimination occurs between people of the same race.

To be clear, this isn’t just a “black” issue. This type of “color-ism” or “shade-ism” happens in Hispanic communities and Asian communities, just to name a few. What I believe should concern us all is the effect this sort of stuff has on our children. I’m not a mother, but I know that it’s important for all of us to instill qualities and characteristics of self-confidence into our youth. For anyone to degrade a child simply based on the color of their skin is sad.

Bianca Chardei, a D.C.-based model, told me about two local girls she mentors who are experimenting with bleaching their skin. It seems that the results of that famous 1960s psychological study have not changed much. In that study, a young black girl was presented with a set of dolls and every time the she was asked to point to the one that wasn’t pretty, she pointed to the black doll that looked like her.

I hope no one finds this story offensive, but rather eye-opening. It was eye-opening for me. If you’re interested, the movie Dark Girls premieres at the Warner Theater in D.C. on November 21st and 22nd. For more information you can visit the official movie website.

Feel free to send me your comments. The conversation continues.

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