The character of Akasha in the movie is being played by Aaliyah, a black woman.
Artistic license, okay; editing a novel to fit better on the screen, okay; adjusting characters slightly to fit the available actors, yucky but okay. Changing a fundamental part of the story, NOT okay. Somehow I doubt that a black woman was turned porcelain white, even by makeup, for an entire movie, especially when the promo photos show her as her normal skin color. Stupid movie makers.
(this post motivated by the promo photo in the back of this week's Time - yes it's a way cool costume, but Akasha was not black at the time of this novel/movie, dammit)