Tuesday, September 22, 2009
When I was book reviewer for Essence Magazine, I read a pretty wide range of books--from juicy soap opera dramas to vampire reads and short fiction tales-- but few stuck out in my head more than "When She Was White" by Judith Stone. I was intrigued by the story of a young Black girl living in an apartheid-fueled South Africa who, on top of having to live with the political strife in the country and adolescence at the same time, had one other thing that was both an enigma and a curse--she was white.
Sandra Laing was born to white Afrikaans in 1955, who for most her life puzzled and even repulsed others with her shockingly darker skin than her white parents who raised her strictly as their white child. She had considered herself white until it was time for school where her troubles were only just beginning. It was then that she first realized she was not like the other white kids. And they never let her forget it.
The movie Skin follows Laing's incredible thirty-year journey as she goes from blissful obscurity to a prisoner of her own skin. She faces racism against what she looks like and who she was raised as and quietly struggles to gain an identity of her own in an unforgiving time.
Sophie Okonedo beautifully portrays Laing as a confused and scared young woman who's forced to choose a color line, but not without her share of heartache and pain. Click here to check out the trailer for this touching real-life story, which hits theaters October 30.
My rating: A