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In My Genes: Stories on Living with Albinism in Kenya cover image

In My Genes: Stories on Living with Albinism in Kenya 2009

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Third World Newsreel, 545 Eighth Avenue, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10018; 212-947-9277
Produced by Lupita Nyong’o
Directed by Lupita Nyong’o
DVD, color, 78 min., English with Swahili subtitles

Sr. High - Adult
African Studies, Sociology, Race

Date Entered: 01/12/2010

Reviewed by LaRoi Lawton, Library & Learning Resources Department, Bronx Community College of the City University of New York

Our natural ability to stigmatize and exclude and our inability to accept difference runs across many cultures not only here in the United States but all over the world. Albinism (from Latin albus, “white”) refers to a group of inherited conditions that cause little or no pigmentation in the eyes, skin or hair (or more rarely the eyes alone). A genetic mutation causes a lack or deficiency in melanin in the body, the photo-protective pigment that protects us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, resulting in physical characteristics like white or light blond hair, violet to blue eyes, very pale skin that is particularly sensitive to the sun. Without sufficient melanin, the eye is unable to function properly and its nerve connections to the brain are also altered. People with albinism are therefore often characterized by long-sleeved clothing, hats and dark glasses as a measure of protection against the sun.

In My Genes takes place in Kenya, Africa and presents a personal introduction to albinism. It asks the viewer to consider how it feels to be a member of one of the most hyper-visible and yet invisible groups of people in a predominantly black society. It is a film on disability, minority discrimination, and identity; issues of representation, confidence and perception of the other. In this 78 minute film, the lives of eight people with albinism are explored. Their personal narratives intersect their unique experiences of living with albinism. They contemplate on questions about the effects of their condition on aspects of their childhood, adolescence, sexuality, race, and aspirant dreams. It is a passionate rebuttal of prejudice and discrimination. This film received the following awards as the Best Documentary, Five College Film Festival, Northampton, 2008; Souvenir Selection, Africala Film Festival, Mexico City, 2008. It was shown at the internationally acclaimed African Film Festival’s yearly showing in April 2009 in New York City. Highly Recommended