Posts Tagged ‘skin’

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Skin Deep

August 23, 2011

Skin (2008) is the true life story of Sandra Laing, a black girl who was born to white Afrikaner parents in Apartheid era South Africa.  The film tells the story of Sandra’s struggle with identity largely during her adolescent and young adult years.  Raised with her older brother (whose skin is white) Sandra believes that she is white but is subject to the cruel punishment and belittlement of her school peers and teachers who see her as a kaffir.  Sandra’s confusion and her parents’ tireless attempts to prove that she is indeed white lands their unique case at the highest levels of the South African courts.  After testimony from genetics experts and observations of her ethnic features by “doctors” Sandra is legally classified as white and bounces off into the sunset with her blonde haired, blue eyed doll that she values so much.

Of course life is not happily ever after for the family as Sandra’s skin continues to divide her community.  Sandra is an oddity in her dating years.  A novelty for the Afrikaner whites and intriguing to the Swaziland natives Sandra must decide what side of the love fence feels most genuine to her peaking sexual identity.  Sandra’s decision also divides her family wherein her father, a staunch supporter of the Apartheid government, disowns her when Sandra becomes pregnant by a black man. Sandra’s mother, also a supporter of the government (albeit torn by the love for her daughter) too distances herself.  It is when Sandra rears her children that she legally reclassifies herself as black for fear of losing them.

This film is an ironic take on the story of the tragic mulatto.  Sandra is not of mixed race blood but as far as everyone else is concerned it is perception that matters.  There are some hard to watch scenes in the film where she uses bleaches and creams to lighten her features because of her confusion.  Sandra hates her black skin and yet she is not black.  But she is black.  But she isn’t black.  Get the picture?  This film will appeal to brown people who have ever developed a mental condition about being  “light-skinned” or white people who’ve developed a mental condition about their “olive” features.  Skin is not just skin here.  3 Siggies.