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More than Skin Deep
on September 11, 2001
Nina Moore faces many of the same obstacles that many African-American women face. She's in a relationship that she believes has run its course. She's employed at a university who's just beginning to recognize the importance of African American's contribution to society and is having to fight tooth and nail to make sure the university commits to increasing opportunities for African American students and faculty. She comes from a loving family, of a jazz musician father, a loving mother and funny, bright brother. She is trying to strike balance in her life while continually reconciling with herself and to others the fact that she's not like all the other "sisters" because she is trapped in a white woman's skin.
Skin Deep explores the prejudices of both blacks and whites against African Americans who are on the lighter end of the color spectrum. Nina reveals these prejudices from her fiancé' Derrick who's with her because she looks white, Ahmad, who loathes her (in the beginning) because she looks white and the white administration she works with who promote her over her dark skinned best friend, because she's more palatable to their taste. However the question of color runs deepest for Nina who has a degree of self-loathing because she is so different from other "sisters". A recurring nightmare is a product of that fear but is also a key to the secret of who she really is. Her parents explained to her that she was the product of an affair that her father had with a white woman. But the truth comes out in dramatic fashion during a deathbed confessional.
Skin Deep is a slow read at the beginning. The reader may get the feeling that this is one of those typical black vs. white, light is right diatribes. However Cross skillfully weaves into the mix, how lies, drugs, the criminal justice system and racism can affect the dynamics of family life.