Theme Talk: Prejudice - The Chosen, the Purebloods, the Halfers, and Robots

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swaswj

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#1
Theme Talk: Prejudice
The Chosen, the Purebloods, the Halfers, and the Robots

The heart of fictional writing is conflict. Specified or not, every character has a goal or goals, from something as simple as just surviving to something as complex as saving the world, and everything in-between. The conflicts get between the character and that goal, and the uncertainty that results can create suspense or anticipation for the reader. Traditionally, literary analysts narrow conflicts down to man versus self, man versus man, and man versus nature. Among the many other possible conflicts, one that slides neatly between 'man' and 'nature' is man versus society, where the conflict is brought on by societal pressure with no single human face to put to it.

The theme of prejudice at its core is a conflict of man versus society. It's pervasive in literature, fiction, fanfiction, and in our case, roleplaying. As unpleasant as it is, when we were designing the world for Post Terminus, we felt that prejudice was necessary to create a believable world, flawed but alive. As in the real world, though, that prejudice can take many forms. Recently, the topic of prejudice against half-bloods, the spurii, was brought up.

Race issues should actually be more serious in the grand scheme of things, and they would encourage a common identity among spurii, that's how minorities work. You just haven't explored that side of the Araevis yet.
The idea has certainly been explored, of course, and this made me want to talk about how it was envisioned to work in Araevis. The first thing we considered when looking at the history was that one thing that pushes people together is uniting against a common threat. When the Cataclysm occurred, the survivors of all races had to band together to stay alive and rebuild society. That's why there was a conscious decision that historical racial tensions between the laicar, enlil, and velen would be largely muted in modern society. Velen and enlil and laicar had a vicious history of wars against each other, but with the world crumbling around them, they overcame their mutual hatred and helped each other.

Although muted, the prejudice of the pureblood races against each other continues to exist in the form of disdain for the half-blooded spurii. Please note the word 'disdain' rather than 'hatred.' Extreme cases might be disgust instead. A laicar might look at a velen and think, "he's not one of us, but damn if they aren't great fishermen," but when looking at a laicar-velen individual he might think, "he's not one of us, and I bet he doesn't even know which side of the pole to put the bait on." The enlil people have historically produced some of the greatest snipers, and a velen guard captain with a choice of which marksman to promote, a spurii or a pureblood, might think, "hey, you're good and nothing against you, but we need the best there is." The prejudice, here, is "sorry, you're just not as good as us."

Spurii prejudice is the sort of discrimination that would mean a half-blood will always have a harder time finding their place in society, they'll always get paid less for the same work, they'll always have to prove themselves while purebloods' abilities are taken for granted. To a lesser degree are the people who are disgusted by them, considering them freaks and unpleasant to look at or think about; there are those who are offended by spurii who are half their own race, half something else, but who wouldn't care one way or the other if their own race isn't mixed in. What spurii prejudice does not entail, though, is abject hatred, lynch mobs, and open castigation. In fact, if someone was to publicly demean a spurii for being a half-blood, others would almost certainly turn against the speaker, not the spurii. Even as they did so, however, their very defense would in itself reflect prejudice: "leave him alone. Man can't help how he was born." Unintentional, perhaps, and well-intended but ultimately the message remains the same: you just aren't as good as a pureblood. It's not your fault, though.

Life is harder as a spurii but half-bloods were never meant to be reviled. That distinction goes to the demvir.

I will continue this soonish, there's a lot I'd like to talk about, but I'd also love for the rest of you to discuss the topic here. How do you see prejudice in Araevis, how do you use it in your writing? Is what I described above untenable with your personal plots, or does it give you new avenues to take your story?

I do plan to write about what our intentions were with the demvir and the Solaviskar/religious denominations in general, but if you want me to address other related prejudice themes, like gender, sexuality, culture, kingdom/country, favorite sports team, let me know and I'll see if there's anything I can share.
 

Mystydjinn

[Insert rimshot]
Jul 29, 2013
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#2
Since I suppose I brought it up to begin with I guess I'll start?

I tend to use prejudice in my writing with Aelflead as a way to keep her angry and dissatisfied with the world because being emotionally conscious of yourself and generally knowledgeable doesn't jibe well with being an obstinately angry asshole.

- The main sore point for her is having her mechanical talents overlooked under the assumption they weren't good enough because of her heritage.

And while I haven't had much chance to exercise it yet, it's how I would exempt Aelflead from the prejudice some might hold against demvir (just the basic, "I know what it's like").




That said, prejudice doesn't really stay contained very well like that. Even if the sentiment towards spurii is "you're not good enough," "you can't help it that you're shit," "stay home, you're a liability" that's REALLY close to: "Your life is worth less than a pure blood," "You're life is worth less because you're only half (insert race)," "Your life isn't worth the effort it would take to defend it."

Prejudice functions on the principle of seeing someone else, a category of fellow human beings, as less than another category for any reason. This can be belief, culture, religion, taste in art, you name it. We call it prejudice racism in the real world when it's based on someone's race, or more accurately ethnic group.

Here in Araevis there are literally 8* separate apex races running around on the surface of the planet (Velen, Laicar, Enlil, Demvir, Umbrum, Eresh, Janu, Ophidian), and a third of them are almost on the "evil" spectrum of the morality square (cube?).

Racial tensions between the pure blood races on Araevis might be somewhat (since the there's still years of prejudice and war between them from previous history in the world) muted, but the spurii would be free game because they're literally 50% or less of any particular biological race on the planet. The Demvir make sense since of course, they popped out the ground and aren't flesh and blood.

Anytime you can diminish the value of the life of another creature, you justify violence against them. Spurii certainly wouldn't be sought out for violence the same way that demvir are because their general histories are different, but it if a pure blood had a bad day it would be very easy to drag off a spurii and use them to vent their frustrations however they saw fit.

It would be very easy to make a spurii child disappear without raising too many questions, very easy to accidentally kill or maim a spurii in a cart accident without repercussions, and you already mentioned how easy it be to deny paying them for their work.

In addition to that, (granted idk how the government system of the nations on Araevis work yet) it would be very easy to turn a blind eye to the social welfare of spurii peoples.

If people are potentially disgusted by spurii they do hate them, and nobody wants to live near someone that they hate right? (See: segregation/segregated communities) Pure bloods will separate themselves from spurii living spaces and create, granted they'd probably be unofficial, spurii/demvir only living spaces, and spurii/demvir only facilities and locals in some places as well.

The main thing that makes this possible and likely, is because (granted like you and some other have said, the Solaviskar could use some defining) persons with great amounts of political power are openly prejudiced. It doesn't take much.

The deeds of spurii would likely be erased or at least have their heritage intentionally warped, especially if their heritage does not include laicar blood. The Magister himself switched around the order of a ceremony just so that something with partially laicar blood could be exalted over the rest of the participants.

I feel like I've gotten my point muddled in all of this posturing, but I'm saying this all to say: Not to discount the obvious difference between the treatment of demvir and spurii, but calling prejudice towards the spurii in Araevis "muted" feels like downplaying the ramifications of the in-world social situations surrounding them and the actual stigma it would cause.

Like, in order to "rationalize" chattle slavery for christians during slave time in America, science was bullshitted to say that african peoples were only 3/5ths of a man.

Based on the game mechanics of PT and the way they relate to reality in game, you've created a world where science doesn't have to bullshit because it's practically true. The difference between spurii and demvir in Araevis' general social situation I feel could likely be more accurately described as this:

Spurii are only half-people, sad abominations made by sexual deviants, while Demvir are nothing more than appliances that rebelled from their masters then demanded personhood.
 
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Bat Cthulhu

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Jun 18, 2009
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#3
I like the idea of prejudice/social injustice as tools myself. My big concern with most of the writing is not that people aren't utilizing it to fuel character progression, and as you said, the spurii players may use it to a degree you did not think of, which is good. Prejudice/Racism is something that doesn't just go away. Even after 2 world wars where people of all races fought, and a HUGE movement of Civil Rights, Racism is alive and well in the States, and even worse in a lot of overseas countries.

That being said, I think that a lot of people could use this writing potential more when they are on the other side of the prejudice. Very rarely do PCs treat Spurii or Demvir any differently than other races. It is, to be fair, hard, since the average rper is not a racist themselves, and knows that regarding anyone differently because of their genetics or lineage is stupid. However, our characters may not be as "enlightened." It's an area for growth and challenge that a lot of writers just simply miss out on, especially since you can catch flak for it. People were confused when one of my characters was "uncomfortable" around a spurii character for being a spurii character. This was not because my character was a die hard racist bigot who thought he was the superior being, but he was simply not used to being around that race and had the same preconstructed notions of many NPCs that we write ourselves, who view spurii as "different" and "less trustworthy."

That being said, it is totally acceptable for a PC to be like "Cool. You're a spurii, Harry. Whatever." They tend to be more traveled than other characters, and have a wider viewpoint. Case in point, that same character had a demvir as a close coworker, so demvir were whatever.

It's just an aspect that I feel that is not explored. Why not have someone write about being that person and come to realize how wrong they were? It's a lost opportunity.
 

Dysney

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Dec 30, 2012
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#4
This has been something I personally haven't written about much. Harper did encounter some discrimination in his childhood after the death of his parents. Despite being a child on his own and clearly in need of help, people weren't eager to help a spurii child. Some just ignored him, others only helped anonymously. He even got some pity due to his heritage. The one person who brought him in faced hardship for treating Harper like a son (rude remarks, increased prices, etc.) which ultimately lead to Harper blaming himself for others' prejudice and running away from the only loving home he'd ever have in his childhood years.

Ignis, for her part, isn't overtly racist but she definitely is ignorant. In the initial PMs, Ignis didn't understand the frustrations of ANO and thought they exaggerated the wrongs they discussed. However, she went along with the group because she was already in too deep. She never resonated with their cause, seeing the attack as an overreaction. This is a lot like the way people cluck their tongues at protesters in real life.

My side character, Eden, was persecuted by her own family due to her mixed heritage but that's a rabbit hole we don't need to go down right now.

Aside from these instances, I've largely left the issue of race alone. In some ways, it's because Ignis doesn't have those problems. Other ways, it perhaps is because I wish I didn't have those problems in real life.

Nevertheless, it's an important part of Aeravis and I look forward to being more conscientious with my future writing and seeing racial tensions play a more overt role in our overarching plots.

Dys out
 
Sep 22, 2009
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#5
I would say that Aeria was my vehicle for dealing with the ideas about race. One thing that was important for me was to emphasize both subtle and more overt discrimination against her as a reflection of society. The overt discrimination came in the form of the police in Repertum immediately assuming that she'd committed a crime because of her background. The subtle discrimination comes in the form of the way she was treated while training to become an engineer. She wasn't actively discouraged but there was also the pressure on her that she wasn't quite good enough, even when she excelled.

I'd say that it is tough to create a character with overt racism. It is easier to work on someone who has prejudices that are not necessarily well-founded but that have been ingrained. I suppose that one could imbue a character like Aeria with her own unconscious prejudices, despite her general desire to help others but I am not sure how true it would ring.

I suppose that we all need to consider how characters might respond to race and its social construction a bit more and try to be as realistic as possible with it.
 

Nargles

Hollywood Meets Bollywood
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Jan 25, 2008
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#6
So all things considered, spurii themselves can easily be seen as the PT version of RL race issues. Now, the original idea for spurii (mind you original) was roughly along the lines of (other people find spurii odd but only a select few go full radical racist on them. This, I think, parallels the idea of being a person of color in essentially a heavily white neighborhood.

I don't want to generalize to all spurii, but using my current background, I would say that there is a general discomfort to them but only rare bubbles act on those desires (thing radical white supremacy groups). On the otherhand from the spurii point of view, I would find that the general mindset of a spurii would be most likely on the line of upset about the societal structure that has caused them to be secondhand citizens; though, I think the discomfort would be expressed more as semi-peaceful action groups (think something on the lines of civil disobedience but stopping short of outright rioting).

If we parallel this to US politics, it kind of makes sense as this is on the lines of MLK strategies and ACT for HIV issues. In that realm, I would find that the number of militantly angry spurii would most likely be a much smaller percentage of that, as most of the time radical violent groups tend to get far less traction for actual change than more civil disobedient strategies (see why HIV activism groups in the 80s distanced themselves from the more well-known 'militant homosexuals' while still retaining that edge when organizing their counter protests).

What this roundabout post is saying is that I don't think attitudes towards spurii in the GRAND SCHEME are anywhere near 'everyone hates spurri as vile abominations'. I think enforcing that viewpoint unfairly restricts those individuals that want to write stories with spurii and not have to validate why every single race individual wants to kill them. Plus, I believe it will allow for far more exploration into the nuances into how each race treat spurii (how to velen view velen spurii as opposed to others?), than unifying the entire world as EVERYONE HATES SPURII. There should be consequences from a writing standpoint, though I think we can write people rebelling against a social construct without having that starting point being that the purebloods want to kill the mudbloods.
 

Mystydjinn

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Jul 29, 2013
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#7
I feel like I misrepresented my points, because I certainly wasn't trying to establish the general starting point of the world as "everyone hates/actively wants to kill spurii" as that's not how racism works on a grand scale in the real world. And I don't think anybody is pushing for that mentality on a grand scale in Araevis either.

Personally, I was just making the point that the kind of world Araevis was designed to be, and the world that currently exists with a series of biologically different apex races can't have "mild racism."

Araevis did go through slavery with demvir (no word on spurii) and the spurii may not have received the exact same treatment but think of it this way.

Two teen mothers abandon their newly born kids because they don't want them for [x reasons]. It's raining out, so one mother drops their kid in a dumpster in an alleyway and closes the lid over them. The other mother walks into the same alleyway and sets their kid on the ground beside the dumpster the first mother put her baby inside.

Which baby is worse off? The one inside the dangerous stinking trashcan filled with... Trash? Or the baby on the disgusting and potentially dangerous ground in the rain? You could argue that the baby on the ground is worse off because it's in the rain, but the baby in the dumpster is just as screwed because they're surrounded by trash.

My point isn't that the world is actively out to murder every spurii on site, as that would be extremely unrealistic, but that there is no "mild" prejudice that can be possible in this world in relation to these two marginalized groups (demvir & spurii).

You can't say that there's two large and marginalized groups within a world, make them both experience prejudice based on biology (or lack thereof) and then say one is less marginalized than the other. Struggle is struggle, and the reasons for each group's struggle is too close to one another.

To point back to my original post, Araevis is a world where the 3/5ths argument from slavery in the U.S.A. just 300 odd years ago could actually carry clout if Araevians have developed some genetic science. And all it would take to push the world into a darker theme and make prejudice against spurii and demvir more prevalent is a racially charged event.

It'd be like the shot heard round the world, but it would start a civil rights war instead of a civil war.
 

swaswj

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#8
I believe you're following a slippery slope fallacy headfirst, here.

First, I want to address one thing in particular: I'm not lying when I describe the state of Araevis. As of the start of the RP (which is the point at which your actions as players begin to influence the world), prejudice between the three prime races -- laicar, enlil, velen -- is all but muted. They were forced to rely on each other for survival and to rebuild society, and society on the whole recognizes the differences between them, but also recognizes that they can do more together than alone. This much isn't supposition or opinion, this is a fact of the world; and if you find it unbelievable, keep in mind we also create fireballs by opening rifts between dimensions. There may exist people who are anti-laicar or anti-velen or what-have-you, but they are exceptions, and they'll find more opposition than support in most places.

Regarding demvir, I still plan to do a more in-depth post on them, just keeps getting pushed back.

It's important to remember that spurii are not a different race. They are individuals of mixed heritage. A laicar-enlil need not have anything at all in common with another laicar-enlil, and their genes will likely have a different expression from each other (one more laicar, one more enlil, maybe 50/50, maybe barely noticeable). I personally pictured the struggle of a spurii to be more internal, finding out where they belong, which side of themselves to embrace. Does the velen-enlil hate the feathers on his back, try to pluck them to fit in with the rest of his cousins? Does the laicar-velen struggle with the desire to be with her lover on the next farm over, warring against her desire to jump into the ocean and swim as far as she can? That doesn't mean your story has to follow what I envisioned.

The 3/5th argument has no bearing on a spurii's value as a person (50 + 50 = 100), but it can be applied to their credentials for jobs. "I need 5 velen for an underwater dive." "Well, you're hired, but you'll have to work twice as hard to keep up with the others."

The main place where this breaks down is with the Solaviskar. As established, they are a minority of society, but their members have a penchant for reaching positions of power. Under the doctrine of Solaviskar, laicar are the chosen of Castus, the other pureblooded races are there for the laicar to guide and protect, half-bloods are pitiable and deserving of mercy, but the demvir are not people. They were never mentioned by Castus in any scripture, and they were discovered toiling away in ruins so ancient they had to have been built by the Viskar. Therefore the demvir were servants of the Viskar, and by extension, should be servants of the laicar, the chosen.

I have more to say on Solaviskar, as well, in a later post.
 

K3

The Angry One
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Jun 29, 2008
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The Great Pond in the Sky
#9
  • K3

    K3

Oh hey guess what it's the angry one here to lay down some truth facts real quick.

So hey, putting aside the dumbass spurii shit that's going around in circles for a bit, here's the deal with demvir:

You're a regular Joe working in some backwoods nowhere. Or maybe you're an important person riding high in the business life with his own high-rise office in a dense metropolitan city. You're proud, damn proud of how far the world has come since the closest thing to an apocalypse 500 years ago.

Sure, you weren't there for it, but history is all the more important now that all of you - every single mortal being on the planet - is desperately clinging to what you have and seeking what you lost.

There's just one thing, though: the demvir.

A race of immortal mechanical beings that often lack humanizing traits - or the ones that do often veer into the uncanny valley - and were quite content up until a little while ago to continually slave away in whatever hole they were found in. You know, like a good machine would.

Except they're not anymore. They clamor for freedom now, voices raised in a chorus and demanding the kind of equality that is hard to envision granting to the equivalent of a particularly complicated hammer. I mean, you kinda get it, if you squint real hard... but it's hard.

It's hard to believe a collective of machines acting autonomously and on behalf of whatever menial tasks they were previously undergoing; suddenly developing individuality. It's hard to believe that free will - that sapience and thought and feeling - can simply come into being where there was a previous absence.

And then they fought for that freedom, and everyone paid in blood for it.

-------------------

This is one of a million possible perspectives regarding the demvir, and it's important to not collectivize and generalize societies and cultures and try and smear everything into one bland paste of things.

Maybe enlil are more particular to the demvir's newfound self-sapience, sympathizing and empathizing due to their own highly individualistic and wanderlust nature.

Maybe velen have a disinclination due to their belief in the strength of the collective, or the impossibility of a machine suddenly becoming a real being, a creature of thought and emotion.

Maybe laicar and spurii and everything else under the sun in Araevis have their own individual thoughts on it that are wholly separate from religion because this certainly doesn't seem to be the domain of the gods, does it?

Machines gaining hearts and minds. A collective people suddenly waking from some terrible dream. Maybe it's easier to pretend it's something unnatural or strange than to admit they hadn't thought hard enough about what the demvir really were, or if they were people trapped in their own minds and bodies.

These are just some thoughts, some prompts, some facts, and some blatant confessions behind the creation and timeline of the demvir and how their implementation into Araevis and Post Terminus was intended.

-K3
 

Nargles

Hollywood Meets Bollywood
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Jan 25, 2008
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#10
Bringing it back to the spurii topic. One thing we need to know is that in this setting, if you really want to argue it biologically, you have 3 distinct apex races and one LITERAL slave race (demvir). If you wanted to argue from a biological perspective, a spurii can often be more tailored to the environmental standpoint and technically could be considered a beneficial evolution.

That aside, I have to say that the argument about dumpster babies is ridiculously strawmen. I'm not arguing that there isn't oppression of the spurii. Hell, in the wrong place at the wrong time, you very much could have a situation like you are discussing. However, what is important to keep in mind is that this is not a widespread phenomenon and from a narrative standpoint, we would be doing ourselves an extreme disservice to view it as one.

Firstly, the idea of every spurii being heavily marginalized vastly limits a writers viewpoint. If we focus on perhaps framing it in a setting that is more in terms with our modern (and hell even how things were 300 years earlier in the real world), oppression was not always cranked up to 11 at all points of the world. It fundamentally cannot be because this sort of oppression is a societal byproduct and society varies differently from culture to culture.

Unlike the real world, the RP has 3 biologically different apex races (even that is arguable considering the sheer number of things in the world that can oneshot a person); however, all of these races of achieved a sense of societal structure that will be distinct. In fact, within each society we have substructures that are different from one another (all velen communities are not the same) and it would be far more interesting to explore the fact that spurii could be treated completely differently from one society to another. In fact, in some societies, thing a more metropolitan setting, the idea of spurii could even be considered being in vogue. However, that would be rare just like a society that treats them as lower than dirt.

Thus, what I'm really trying to say is that I STRONGLY disagree with setting the default viewpoint that we work off of at 'spurii are always treated like crap and are dumpster babies and heavily marginalized'. That ends up being cliche and forces every spurii writer to always start from that level. That is uninteresting compared to the diversity (pun intended) available if we allow writers to write the experience of a spurii that changes societies. For example, what if someone wrote a downtrodden spurii who transitioned to a city where spurii were considered equals to others? How would they combine their experiences from their previous life to their new one? Likewise, what if a spurii that grew up in a relatively nice city was forced to live in a heavily racist city? The opportunity to explore these questions is what makes writing spurii fun and gives them more depth than people choosing them to be a laicar that can fly.
 

swaswj

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Feb 18, 2008
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#11
I think Nargles worded that well, and I agree with that perspective. I do want to point out, of course, that this doesn't mean Aelflead can't pursue her 'nation for spurii' idea. However, I wouldn't expect things to be completely black and white.
 

Mystydjinn

[Insert rimshot]
Jul 29, 2013
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#12
I figured what Nargles' saying would be the case, I was listing the worst case situations to make the point that (at least to me) it felt unhelpful if not asinine to say that spurii were less marginalized compared to Demvir.

Part of Aelflead's personal journey towards creating spurii Genosha will have to include her seeing places where discrimination against spurii and demvir is largely muted if not entirely eradicated in order to give her an idea of what she wants to strive for in the end.

But in the grand scheme of things, yeah, that's what I'm hoping for in storytelling. It just felt more like you were saying (and didn't make sense to me to say) that spurii discrimination was largely inconsequential or irrelevant.
 

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