“The only way I’m going to survive is if I become like them. If I fit in.”Cornelius Walker
On November 27th, 2000, 10 year old Damilola Taylor, a Nigerian British boy was murdered. Cornelius Walker was the same age and same skin color as Damilola. Walker’s mom feared for her son’s safety and the family moved away from London and into Essex. Unfortunately for Cornelius, he faced relentless racism by white supremacist kids in his new neighborhood and school. When things escalated to violence, Cornelius decided enough was enough. He needed to fit in. Then began his transformation. He changed his clothes, learned how to speak like the locals, straightened his hair, bleached his skin and wore blue contact lenses. The white kids accepted him as one of their own but it came at a great cost.
Black Sheep is directed by Ed Perkins and distributed by The Guardian. The documentary begs the question: what lengths would you go to fit in? For Cornelius the joy in acceptance came with the shame of how it was achieved. His story is told through an extended interview with Cornelius Walker and reenactments of the scenes performed by Kai Francis Lewis. This is a compelling documentary about a difficult subject. It strips Cornelius’ story down to its basics. This is not about Damilola Taylor or about white supremacy in England. This is simply the story of a young black man struggling with identity due to this tremendous hatred he faced simply because of the color of his skin.
Black Sheep is nominated for a 2019 Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject).