I always wondered as a child what my kids would look like. (Actually, I still do.) Despite sharing the same parents, my sisters and I look nothing alike (except for two of us having similarly tightly-coiled curly hair). I was so much lighter-skinned that my sister that growing up people would ask if I had a different father, a white father. Years later, I would have to assure strangers that I was not biracial. No one, especially my “Spanish blood is better” relatives, were calling themselves mixed race back then, even if as Dominicans, we were.
But everyone in my family was a different color. My grandmother looked white. Her mother, who was half-Spanish, half-Dominican, looked very mixed but more Native American (well, with piercing blue eyes, as did my little sister. My mother looked brown and my white-looking father called her “morena
.” Her brother looked white and had green eyes.
My aunt, despite being half Spanish, half Dominican, had distinctly African features. My cousin looked black. In fact, when I introduced him as my cousin to a childhood friend, the childhood friend said, “He can’t be your cousin, he’s black.” I was 8 so I turned to my cousin and said, “You’re black? When did you become black?”
The movie Skin
, stars Sophie Okenedo
, a biracial Jewess from London, is out now in theaters. The movie is based on the true story of Sandra Laing
, a woman who was born to white-looking (but mixed) parents in the 1950s but classified as “coloured” during apartheid era South Africa. Her parents fought to get her classified as white but failed because Sandra, with her dark skin and tight curly hair, did not “look” white. Her father even took a paternity test to prove Sandra was his daughter. Eventually, Sandra sought refuge in the black community.
In case you missed it, The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles featured an interview with Okenedo in “Jewish Actress Sophie Okonedo Explores Biracial Identity”.
Read the Entertainment Weekly