The Skin I'm In: Maleeka's School Environment

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In The Skin I’m in, we explore Maleeka’s school environment. It is quite evident that she is constantly bullied by her peers, especially John-John, about her clothes, appearance and skin colour. The bullying becomes so unbearable that she finds herself looking for Char’s help for protection and to do her homework in return. Racial Discrimination is a main theme in ‘The Skin I’m In’ as it is the spark of her fire of problems at school. Maleeka has the darkest complexion in her school and she is bullied for that. “I don’t see no pretty, just a whole lotta black’’ John-John (p.2) It seems that the most preferred race in this environment is the one with the lightest skin and straightest hair. And, that without those qualifications, you are inferior. “You can glue on some hair, paint yourself white, come to school wearing a leather coat down to your toes and somebody will still say something mean to hurt your feelings.” In this quote we can see what the ideal features were at that time. Maleeka lacked those qualities, and she was bullied because of this. Her nappy hair and dark complexion did not fit society’s views.

Bullying was an ongoing theme in the novel. Maleeka is bullied for her skin colour, appearance and clothes. From the beginning, we can already realize this through the mean, racist remarks from John-John and his song. “Don’t let that fancy name fool you, she ain’t nobody worth knowing” John-John (p.2), “Maleeka Maleeka, baboom boom boom, we sure wanna keep her, baboom boom boom, but she’s so black, baboom boom boom, we just can’t see her.”. When she turns to Char for help, she finds herself in a deeper hole than before. Char tells Maleeka hurtful words about her appearance and brings down Maleeka’s self esteem. She belittles and embarrasses Maleeka with words like, “You ugly, stupid, black thing”. But Maleeka wasn’t the only one being bullied. Miss Saunders was bullied as well. Even though Miss Saunders is an adult she is still bullied by her...
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