Tag Archives: Sandra Laing

Two girls

This baby girl was very lucky to have been born in India. She is being worshipped as a reincarnated god.

This girl was very unlucky to have been born in South Africa. To white parents. In 1955.


I recently read When She was White, the story of Sandra Laing, a dark skinned child born to white Afrikaans. Sandra’s parents (especially her father) fought long and hard to keep their daughter classified as white. The novel was difficult for me to sit through, not only because it’s so disjointed…probably because Sandra is so traumatized by everything that’s happened to her that she’s blocked out most of her past…but for more obvious reasons. Simply put, the story is damn depressing. Not to mention infuriating. Her parents…where to begin? How does the saying go? De Nile is not just a river in Egypt? Well, I suppose it’s not technically denial since they both acknowledged her skin tone as evidence of African ancestry in their family trees, of course, one would have to in that situation, but to expect others to see her as white simply because she was their child? To enroll her in a white boarding school sight unseen and not expect some sort of backlash? That’s got to be denial. But of course, to label her as anything but white was out of the question. And if she was indeed white…why couldn’t she attend an all white school? Yeah. Makes sense when your life is steeped in crazy racist notions.

When I flipped through the pictures in the book it’s obvious that her mother and father felt completely different about Sandra. Her father was not…fond of her. Whereas it’s no mystery that Sandra came from Sannie’s loins, I’m sure that Abraham was constantly looked down upon as a cuckold. It was obvious that she wasn’t his child….right? Right? I don’t know how many times I’ve watched a TV show featuring a man happily awaiting his unborn child only to look astonished as a black screaming baby made his/her debut. It’s such a classic “Wait a minute…I’m not the father!” moment. Because otherwise, how would you know? Anything else could be explained away. But even if Sandra wasn’t the embodiment of Sannie’s indiscretion, she had to pay for being born. She was a stain on their white life. In the end, she went one way and her family went another. She was reclassified as coloured and her family continued to blame her for all of their (and her) problems.

I feel like there was a lesson to be learned in all of this, but ignorance prevailed.


Filed under Life, Opinion, Race, Rant, Shit just got real, Truly?