SKIN - Anthony Fabian

Based on a true story, Skin recounts the remarkable life of Sandra Laing, a black South African born to white parents at the height of apartheid. Sandra’s world was a place with strict segregation. White South Africans had the power in a society where black South Africans were classified as second class citizens. At school, white children were taught that everything about black South Africans was “different” and Sannie Laing, Sandra’s mother, tells Sandra during the film that to be black in South Africa is to be “dirt”.

Sandra’s problems start when she first goes to school. “I’m not black,” Sandra says to a friend at school when she asks about her skin colour. She has been raised by her white parents as if her skin were white and she believes no different. After her birth, her parents had set up a shop in an isolated region in order to “hide out,” and protect her. Removed from society, Sandra has no reason to question the identity her parents have carefully constructed for her. But school changes that. For the first time, Sandra is confronted with people who view her as black. “Sandra does not belong here,” the principal says, and eventually she is forced to leave because of the complaints of the white parents.

Because this issue of Sandra’s skin colour dominates the film, it would be easy to see this film as just about racial identity. After all, Sandra comes to realise that “I’m not white,” and has to deal with these consequences. But the conflict that arises because of her skin colour is just part of a much Ticking Mind - Identity & Belonging - Study Notes Ticking Mind - Identity & Belonging - Study Notes 13 bigger battle field of issues of identity that this film raises. For Sandra, many of her issues of identity and belonging are rooted in the desperate struggle of her father to shape and control who she is. Abraham Laing’s racist mentality is more fixed than Sannie Laing’s. There should be a distance of “six feet”...