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A Most Precious Asset Is Only Skin Deep

Watch the trailer for “White”

It’s Christmas in New York City and the temperature is a blistering 120 degrees. Climate change has warmed the planet to the point where midday curfews keep people out of the oppressive heat. Scientists have devised a way to extract and inject melanin, making skin pigment a commodity.

This is the future world envisioned by director A. Sayeeda Clarke in her short film, White, part of ITVS’s Futurestates series.

“White” explores a future where society’s racial stratification is heightened by a need for melanin.

“Even though people with darker skin can extract something — it has value — they still don’t have control over it,” says Clarke. “It’s just like mining of diamonds or gold or gas — all these natural resources where the people, the masses don’t have control of that.”

The film centers around Bato, a young community activist fighting against melanin extraction, a practice that pays donors to remove all pigment from their skin. But he’s forced into a difficult situation when his wife goes into labor prematurely and they don’t have enough money to pay the clinic fees. Eventually, Bato compromises his principals and sells his melanin to pay for the safe birth of his son.

For Clarke, it’s a visual representation of something that many individuals experience today. “It’s a pretty profound thing to strip ourselves of our identity….And yet, symbolically, people are forced to do that in many ways in our society.”

“White” can be viewed online on the Futurestates website.

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