Furo Wariboko, a thirty-year-old, wakes up to discover that his Nigerian skin has been replaced by a white one. Furo, an unemployed graduate, finds himself in a position to make life-altering decisions. He has a job interview, and his family looks up to him. Furo’s new look means he doesn’t want to be seen by his family before he leaves for Lagos.
Furo quickly realizes that his white skin makes him stand out from the rest of the crowd. For most of Furo’s life, that section of Lagos Furo used to walk is very inappropriate.
He is alienated from his family because of his white skin. He doesn’t want to be the subject of the experiment because he will have to face them. He is at a crossroads and must make difficult decisions about his life. He quickly notices the magic of his new skin and its positive impact on those around him. He can give him untold favors and even several job opportunities.
Furo tries to blend and seeks refuge until he can resume work. Syreeta sheltered him. Syreeta brings him in, takes care of him, and then dresses him. As they become more intimate, Syreeta calms Furo’s rage sexual hormones. Furo knows everyone around him wants to profit from his whiteness, hence the preferential treatment he receives. Furo enjoys the new experience and can separate himself from his past identity and family (his loving sister, father, and mother). Furo first legalizes his white face under his name. He later assumes the identity of Francis Whyte.
There are, however, some flaws to his bizarre transformation. His deep Nigerian accent puts him between his past and his present. His cheeks are dark, and his ass is black. He tries to get rid of his black ass using Syreeta’s bleach creams, but it becomes darker and more searing.
Furo (now Francis Whyte), who used to avoid responsibility and was driven by the desire to escape his past, makes one final run to start afresh. Furo makes the error of confiding his feelings in Igoni, who he had previously begged for accommodation. Since the accommodation incident, Igoni has been interested in Furo’s story. He was able to discover Furo’s identity and, in fact, became friends with Tekena (Furo’s sister), a popular Twitter user. Igoni betrays Furo, and his past is revealed to him.
Furo’s transformation is often compared to Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis (1915). The narration of Furo’s transformation can be compared to that of Gregor Samsa. Both of them wake up in the morning, and then they transform. Blackass takes inspiration from Kafka’s masterpiece. Furo, like Gregor Samsa, is considered the key to his family’s financial success. Furo transforms into a man of color with a black face, while Gregor Samsa becomes a giant vermin.
But that’s the end of the comparisons. In his vermin condition, Gregor Samsa is a liability to his loved ones and is kept out of the public eye. Furo, however, breaks off from his family before he can realize his transformation. Gregor Samsa’s transformation is symbolic of a society’s decline to its lowest ebb. It is clear that Furo’s transformation, despite the respectful treatment Furo gives whiteness and other similarities in Nigerian society, pushes him up the social ladder, bestows his social prestige, and opens doors to opportunities.
A. Igoni Barrett’s Blackass satirizes society’s perception of race and gender. It also demonstrates that racial discrimination does not just affect whites. It’s also among the blacks in how they treat people of other races. The novel explores the notion of superiority over one race, as shown in Furo’s selection and the special treatment Furo receives based on his whiteness.
Furo is the main character of the novel. In typical Kafkaesque fashion, he flees after his strange skin transformation from black to white. He refuses to appear even though he knows that his family is searching for him. He is the type of man who runs when faced with a problem. Furo Wariboko is an ideal example of an individualist who doesn’t care about the feelings of others. As a result, of his actions or inactions.
Syreeta shelters Furo. Furo believes she shelters Furo because of her white skin and secretly wishes for a mulatto child. Furo is fed and sheltered by her while she decides his course of action. Furo sweet-talks her to end her pregnancy and tells her he wants them to start over. She lives on sugar daddy and promiscuous big men in society.
Igoni, a writer, unravels the mystery of Furo, a white man with a Nigerian accent and name. Igoni, like Furo, transforms from being a male to the gender of their likeness. She is a woman with dangling genitalia between her legs. Furo’s confidentiality is broken when Furo invites Furo’s family to her home to see him before he runs for it again.
The novel addresses gender, race, and color issues, exploitation, prostitution, identity crisis, LGBTA sensibilities, and discrimination via social media.