At a young age, Cornelius Walker underwent a profound crisis of identity. After being exposed to the murder of an 11-year old boy much like himself in his hometown in London, Cornelius' family swiftly relocated to the suburbs. It was there that he first encountered ugly displays of flagrant racism. Struggling to find his place in an uncertain world, he attempted to assimilate with the same clusters of kids who were taunting and demoralizing him. The unusual arc of his young life, and the lessons he's taken along the way, form the basis of the revealing documentary Black Sheep.
In the face of escalating racial tensions, Cornelius began to resent the fact that he was black. He didn't feel embraced in his daily life, and that translated into uneasiness over his appearance. He was determined to adapt a more European look that he believed would feel more mainstream and acceptable among his peer group. He applied generous heaps of skin whitener and donned piercing blue contacts. He altered his personality and his natural manner of speaking.
His scheme worked. Soon, he gained favor with the teenage racists in the neighborhood, as well as their families. It was an odd dynamic that temporarily alleviated some of his demons, but paved the way for others to emerge. He remained passive as the group tormented other children of color, because acceptance was his foremost goal. "You're talking about a black kid being accepted by racists," Cornelius confesses. "It felt good."
The need for approval among his parents and peer group informed much of the dysfunction that distorted Cornelius' image of himself as a youth. Staring into the camera and delivering a raw and haunting testimony, he approaches the narrative of his life with deep regret, brutal honesty and touching vulnerability. Above all, he speaks of his desire for unconditional love. At the end of this phase in his life, his truest gift was learning to love himself regardless of the prejudiced judgments of others.
Featuring beautifully rendered reenactments and soulful commentary from Cornelius himself, Black Sheep is a harrowing character portrait. Its lessons are universal.
Directed by: Ed Perkins
Thank you Cornelius, for your courage in telling it like it was. I'm a French Canadian who grew up seeing Native people being treated with serious racism too. It is so much worse when you are singled-out like this.
What makes me angry is the white kids' parents-like where is everybody while this is happening? These kids are running off on their own without guidance. Although we all clearly need to actively learn and fight against racism, another thing that would help is going back to having extended families living close by. We need elders to keep an eye on things.
And what to do if the parents are racist? Well, this is when others need to stand up and say something. As the saying goes "The only thing necessary for evil to proliferate is for good men to do nothing."
Blame blame blame, maybe he should "take responsibility"
I feel sorry for that boy but also for us - living in a wicked society, where we all could be happy and accepted but because people have children when they are not ready for them, that instead of being a support they kill themselves trying to meet ends... He became friends rith monsters, but he also became a monster. Lost boy, unable to fight for himself and his identity. All of them they were lost, because if you have smart parents they teach you love for the world, not hate. But if they don't care - that's how the monsters like that are being created. At the end it's a big fault of the society and how the system is constructed. Everybody wants to be loved and belong somewhere and we, as a humanity, should embrace these who were less lucky.
Blames his fathers lack of love for his choices and he chose to join a gang and attack an innocent man for fun,he seem to have changed now and be more grown up now, but I have seen white people in black gangs too and they talk like in black street lingo i call them chaves. Most of essex is o.k but their is a lot of knobheads and gangs and no go areas. Essex is fragmented with lots of areas in towns and lots of rich and poor within walking distance. It's next to London so has major drug problems, but as a white man i know racism is isolated and most people of colour don't dress like knobheads, but very few people of colour live in essex, its mainly white.
Over the years more people are priced out of london and more people from london are moving to essex for cheaper rents.
Cornelius obviously comes from a caring family, a family who teaches their young the right values, as well as caring for those outside the family. As a troubled youth he explored other avenues, and says that he now feels guilty, but he has returned to a stronger path in life and should be congratulated for overcoming a very difficult challenge. He appears to be a very honest person and will spread peace and justice rather than anger. I was very impressed with the production--congratulations to all!
I'd like to know what the future held for this young man. He is aware he made friends with monsters so has he been able to walk away at some point?
...hmm...that makes Los Angeles seem rather "harmonious"...wouldn't have thought that type of crude, primitive and intense racism existed in the UK today...
God can give Cornelius unconditional love and he doesn’t have to do anything to get His love. Seek Him 1st & everything will be added unto you. God bless
I'm white. I've never seen a white boy outside of myself fight on his own and I always lost against a gang. Whites are a cowardly lot imo. They have no strength on their own. They are truly cowards.
poor kid got sucked into a bad crowd of friends, if you would call them friends.