The Skin We’re In

We have had several incidents in the past few weeks which has stirred up much debate and discussion about racism. From Julius Malema singing “shoot the boer” to the death of Eugene Terre’Blanche, along with the recent information that this racist right wing extremist was allegedly involved in homosexual cross-racial pedophilia. It is interesting to hear different people speak about situations like these. It is often shocking to me how people who I see as “not so racist”, moving towards liberal, can make some of the most racist comments when news headlines such as these stir up the muck that still lies on the bottom of this lake. Times like these show that, as far as South Africa has come, we still have miles to go. But I am also reminded that Apartheid was a brilliant set-up in the sense that it affectively kept people separate, hating each other, fearing each other, and ignorant to “the other”; it took years to create and will take years to break down.

Seeming somewhat appropriate, I watched the movie Skin last night. For those of you who don’t know, Skin is a true story about a white Afrikaner couple who gave birth to a daughter (Sandra) of a darker skin pigment, right smack dab in the middle of Apartheid. Sandra was discriminated against and classified by the government as “coloured” even though her biological parents were white. Her father fought for her reclassification as “white” and succeeded” only to later cause greater trouble and ostracization when she falls in love with a black man.

Movie-wise it was not the best film I have ever seen. I found the dialogue on the nose at times and some of the scenes just seemed awkwardly forced in to prove a point (e.g. a ten second sex scene randomly taking place between two totally unrelated scenes, just to prove that the white couple indeed have sexual intercourse). It, however, is a powerful story and an emotionally moving film. I believe the film’s biggest success is showing the stupidity, ignorance and simple-mindedness of the Apartheid government, and the brainwashing which came along with it. And we know that much of the emotion, discussion, and defensiveness stirred up by recent headlines, not to mention the events themselves, branch out of this very system, as the residue of Apartheid still drips in most sectors of society. I recommend looking for it in your local video shop and checking it out!

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