Sunday, 29 March 2009

The Skin That We're In

Dykes and dwarves and blind men
Zealots, bats and aliens
Fakir, the Fraud and the Freak
Say can you embrace and love this human race when
Bedlam is here on the street?
-- Mad Agnes

When I was growing up on Athinard V, I was trained as a racing swimmer; by the time I was twelve, I was already competition-grade. Not dedicated enough to beat the hardcore racers, but good enough to do the local league proud. I still go swimming two or three times a week, both to stay in shape and because I just love to swim. Before things got messy and mum moved out, she called me her 'little dolphin'.

I'd just finished a comfortable set, followed up by showing some inquisitive kids how to do those underwater racing turns at the end of each lap, and was in the showers washing the pool chemicals from my hair when I overheard two women in the locker room complaining about an Amarrian crew which had just entered the gym. The language used in reference to the newcomers was incredibly offensive, and the speakers weren't even Matari.

Perhaps it's just me and the way I was raised: one of Dad's grandmothers was Deteis, Mum is half Sebiestor, and my brother and I were raised to look for the person in everyone rather than focussing on the exterior. The amount of racism I encounter every day simply stuns me. If it's not anti-Caldari or anti-Amarr for their methods and cultural practises, it's anti-Matari and anti-Gallente for supposed inferiority and barbarism. I laugh it off when it's directed at me; most people do, when they don't fly into a rage at the insult.

I do not approve of the Amarian mindset on slavery and conquest. I'm not a fan of Caldari governance through business. Some Minmatar customs seem primitive. And I will agree that the Gallente as a collective are decadent and hedonistic. Does this mean that everyone fits the mould? Does that mean every individual needs to be held accountable for his or her empire's failings?

Jorge wasn't permitted to attend Ombey's retirement party. It didn't matter that he has only the barest cultural ties to the Amarr; he was marked for his appearance alone. More than once, I have been told that I have done something to prove the 'rumours about Gallente women' true; what these rumours might be, I can't imagine. When we were based in Vitrauze, I met a Caldari pilot who dressed in popular Gallente fashions when he left his ship simply because he'd grown tired of having bottles thrown at him; never mind that he fought for the Gallente militia.

Do we deserve this? Does anyone?

And so often, it seems it's only because somebody wishes to feel superior to another. If someone can't find something spectacular about what they support and believe in, then the next-best tack is to find something inferior about someone else. One can look down one's nose at others, but does that really make them any better when they can't spare the time to look up?

In the end, I could only finish my shower and leave as quickly as possible before my resolve could crack and become embroiled in a nasty argument. Even the peaceful can only hold our tongues; and mute acceptance is as bad as agreement.


Tony "EVE's Weekend Warrior" said...

Oh wow, wonderful story.

As a person who has experienced racism, I can understand that the same thing happens everywhere.


Casiella Truza said...

The best fiction tells us something about both the fictional and RL universes. This does that. Good job. :)

Quintrala said...

I am 1/4 'Taki and 100% proud by way of my Nonna, and I so hear you!

I think that no one deserves prejudice.

That being said, people's prejudices and preconceptions about others may only be part of the issue. The other part, and it still amazes me, is how far some some are willing to go to reinforce the caricature about themselves; but then it's no longer prejudice, but choice...

Erbo Evans said...

If you're looking to be judged, not on the color of your skin but on the content of your character, come to the Ralpha Dogs. We don't care what race you are as long as you're committed to bettering the corp. We hope to combine the finest qualities of all races--the proud honor of the Amarr, the smooth efficiency of the Caldari, the indomitable fighting spirit of the Minmatar, and the cosmopolitan tolerance and goodwill of the Gallente--in ourselves.

Cain Jacobi said...

wonderful story shae. excellent job.

Persephone Astrid said...

As one who has been on the rotten end of prejudice her whole life, THANK YOU. This was an excellent read, and I'm proud to be in your corp. =D

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