Blackass: Does the Colour of our Skin Define Us?

Blackass is a novel by Adrian Igoni Barrett. It is a story about identity and what defines who we really are.

A SUMMARY OF THE BOOK

Furo Wariboko is a young Kalabri man who lives with his family in Nigeria. One day Furo wakes up to find that he has transformed into a white man. On the outside he appears white: he has red hair and green eyes. On the inside however, he has remained the same Nigerian man. He still has a Nigerian accent, he can speak the language and he knows all about Nigerian culture.

In his neighbourhood, his white skin causes issues. Everyone looks at and treats him with suspicion as though he were an outsider. However, when he goes for an interview in the city centre, his white skin proves to be an advantage. Even though he has none of the required skills for the job, he is given a senior-level marketing role.

Furo finds himself living a great life. Because of his white skin, he has a good job and people treat him like an important person. However, signs of his black Nigerian identity continue to torment him. Furo tries with all his power to distance himself from his past so he can enjoy the money and status that comes with his whiteness. In the end, however, Furo fails. He is found by his family and his true identity is revealed.

WHY DOES FURO STRUGGLE?

Although Furo has the appearance of a white man, he is still fundamentally the same person that he was before his transformation. His true character has not changed. Furo tries to live the life of a white man when in reality, the only thing about him that is ‘white’, is his appearance. As such, he is trying to be somebody that he is not.

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM FURO’S STRUGGLE?

By seeing how Furo ultimately fails in his attempt to live as a white man, we can learn that outward appearance does not make us who we are. Who we are is not the colour of our skin or the features of our body. It is our inner being that truly forms our identity. What really defines us is our personality, our thoughts, our opinions, our decisions and our actions.

It is also important that we remember this when considering other people. No matter what someone looks like on the outside or what the colour of their skin is, we must judge them by who they are on the inside.

NEHA VAZE

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