Published on 4th October 2018 by

Sandra Laing: A Spiritual Journey (2000): Sandra Laing was born to white parents in South Africa, but because of her appearance she was identified as black and expelled from school. What followed was a heartbreaking story of a family ripped apart during Apartheid-era South Africa.

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Sandra Laing was born in 1955 to two white Afrikaners. She had a happy early childhood, unaware of her difference. However once she started school, it became obvious that Sandra was no normal child; due to her dark skin, Sandra was believed to be black. At 10 years old, parents at her primary school petitioned for her expulsion, deeming it unacceptable for a young ‘black’ girl to be educated in a white school. Her case was referred to the Department of Home Affairs, and Sandra was officially identified as black, and expelled. After a 2-year-long petition process, Sandra was re-identified as white after a blood test proved she was her parents’ child. It was too late however; her absence at school had caused her to fall behind, and her English to suffer. Unable to fit into a divided society, Sandra, aged just 15, ran away with a black man and started a family. She was jailed for two months for being in a mix-raced couple, during which her family refused to visit. Even once released, her father refused to speak to her and cut contact, with her mother eventually following suit. The years to follow would prove to be tough, her identity constantly questioned and her life ending up in pieces. 30 years later, now happy with a
new husband, Sandra has difficulty coming to terms with the past, feeling guilt and regret for her actions, and while she longs to visit her now dying mother, her white family still wants nothing to do with her. A heartbreaking and extraordinary story set in Apartheid South Africa, which was eventually turned into a film, Skin (2008), starring Sophie Okonedo.

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