This short story throws a very simple, but radical, premise and uses it to tell a thought provoking story. An illegal drug makes it possible to change ones skin color and a group of high school kids finds out that it isn’t all fun and games.

A couple of high school kids orders a drug from a shady internet site which allows them to change their skin color. On the surface they have noble intentions, like getting to experience racism they haven’t before, like being pulled over by the cops seemingly for merely being dark skinned. However, people born as that race rightfully don’t appreciate that their identity is being used like something you can just try on and remove again. Then the FBI gets involved and the kids end up in serious trouble.

What I like about this story is that isn’t didactic or condescending, even though it is pretty obvious that the author doesn’t think this will be a very good idea. The story does touch upon some interesting question with regards to how one can compare the experience of just being black for one day versus and entire lifetime, and how we can properly learn from other peoples experiences.

Read in Analog July/August 2023
Rating: 3