What are some good quotes from Anthony Fabian's Skin?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It seems to me that some of the best quotes from Fabian's film involve racial identity and its effect on people. Laing's life and narrative is a testament to this idea.  One significant quote that young Sandra says is her affirmation of the apartheid structure that placed such a primacy on color and race.  When Sandra as a child says "I'm not Black" to Elize, it is a statement of how much race exists as a social and political construction. From a young age, Sandra understands that being a person of color is bad and being White is something intrinsically superior. While she might be White and affirm this, young Sandra is unaware of the social construction that judges her in a harsh life because she appears to be a child of color.  As Sandra's narrative develops her initial rejection of being Black is going to be reversed and thus becomes such an important quote in the film's exposition.

As the narrative develops, Sandra must remind herself  to "Never give up."  This quotation of resistance is important for a couple of reasons.  On one level, it is a reminder of what her father says to her. As Sandra becomes a woman who transforms her own reality, she is an embodiment of never giving up. Sandra does not give up hope when she faces misfortune in her life.  From the lack of running water to leaving a husband, Sandra is shown to be one who does not give up.   She even displays this in the hopes of a family reconciliation as the film ends.  Sandra does not acquiesce to the suffering and challenges that her being in the world presents. Even in real- life interviews, this becomes clear when Sandra speaks of how she seeks to "forget the past."   In the film, "Never give up" becomes a type of summative mantra as to how Sandra lives and why her narrative is so important.  Human beings have the capacity to transform what is into what can be simply by living with the idea of "never give up."  Sandra's narrative in the film affirms this idea.

Naturally, as her father reminds her to "Never give up," he also speaks a profound reality that ends up changing Sandra's world.  Upon discovering her relationship with Petrus, Sandra's father tells her that if she does not leave him and come with them, "You will never see your family again- I promise you."  This quote is meaningful because it reflects how agonizing the social construction of race is in Apartheid South Africa. Pigmentation in the skin is the reason Sandra is forever alienated from her family.  For anyone to be forced with such a choice is poignant. To have to make such a choice because of skin color is horrifying to contemplate.  Race is shown to be not only a social and political construct, but an emotional one, as well. Sandra is forced to live an emotionally alienated life from her parents because of race.  To reflect on the difficult choice with which Sandra is confronted enables the viewer to understand much of her pain and sorrow. In the midst of this, Sandra endures and triumphs to find a place in a less than welcoming world.

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