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Captcha
02-20-2012, 10:32 PM
This might be better off in the Experts forum, but I thought I'd start here...

I'm writing a dystopia set in future North America, and I'm trying to use a slightly different form of racism (on the part of the characters) to reinforce the class divide that is at the core of the novel. I'm thinking that the lower classes (the heroes of the novel) are all mixed race... this is based on the assumption that racism will have declined in the future (so, it's not a total dystopia) to the point where there will be no barriers to inter-marriage or having children with people of all races.

But I'd like my upper class to consider themselves 'pure' and pride themselves on being able to trace their genealogy to precise geographic origins. I'd like these origins to be all over the world - like, I'll have characters of pure European descent, pure African descent, etc. But I'd like to subdivide it a little more fully, with the idea that the richer people will have worked so hard to stay 'pure' that they'll still be clearly Scandinavian, or Slavic, or whatever. There are some sympathetic upper class characters, but in general, the system is oppressive and cruel, and definitely in need of a good uprising.

So first question - does anyone see anything offensive in this general premise?

And second question - can anyone help me out with some visually distinctive non-European cultural/genetic groupings that I could refer to? I'm aware of the San people of Africa, who are often referred to as being physiologically distinct from their neighbours, but I'm not sure if they're distinct from ALL other African groupings or just those surrounding them. Are there visual distinctions between different groups of North American First Nations people? Are there distinctions among Australian Aboriginals?

And, finally, can anyone think of a genetically homogeneous group that would appear similar to people who are thoroughly mixed race? I'm thinking of having a character who is upper class and 'pure' but is repeatedly mistaken as lower class because whatever version of 'purity' he's displaying is physiologically similar to the mixed-race underclass.

Thanks for any help, even if that help is just telling me that the idea is fundamentally flawed for some reason!

FoamyRules
02-21-2012, 12:17 AM
Hmmm, I have an idea similar to that that's been in my head for years but it's not the same so don't worry :p. I do think you have a pretty interesting premise here. To answer your first question, no I don't find anything offensive about it as long as you avoid certain stereotypes regarding a person's race. If I stand corrected, so the racism is based on social class as opposed to race?

Captcha
02-21-2012, 01:27 AM
It wouldn't be racism exactly, I guess. But it would be discrimination based on race, so...?

But, yeah, the major divide in this society is socio-economic. The race-based discrimination is secondary to that. I'm kind of looking for a way for the rich folk to justify their privilege and reinforce, to themselves, that they didn't just get lucky by being born rich, they're actually innately superior to the people they oppress. But I didn't want to go with standard, our-world racism, so I thought I'd try to put a twist on it.

FoamyRules
02-21-2012, 01:49 AM
Oh okay gotcha hmmm let's see. Here's a thought since you noted pure European descent and pure Africa descent etc. the lower class can derived from a mix say like a person has both European and African ancestry and is poor he's not seen as being "pure".
To answer your second question, yes, there are visual distinctions between African groups, North Americans First Nations group and Aboriginal Australians. For instance Africans (black people) can come in all colors from the lightest of the light to the darkest of the dark, have different hair textures, and eye colors. With Native Americans some tribes were noted for being very Caucasian looking while others had very dark skin.

And I guess it'll be more appropriate to refer to it as prejudice.

Captcha
02-21-2012, 01:55 AM
Do you know which First Nations groups were known for different characteristics? And do you know whether those differences survive today, or have they been intermarried/extinguished?

FoamyRules
02-21-2012, 02:08 AM
My tribe which is Choctaw and I know a lot of the people including myself are very Caucasian looking in terms of skin color (despite me only being 25% Choctaw), a lot of us are pale but there are a lot who are darker, The Anasazi which inhabited the southern part of the US had darker skin though I do not know if they're extinct or not (it's hard to tell many tribes did go extinct while others mixed in with the Europeans and or Africans) and the Cherokee, I have a friend who is Cherokee but gets mistaken quite often for being Creole. Chickasaw is another group as well as Seminole, Creek.

(The ones in bold are known as the Five Civilized Tribes)

Polenth
02-22-2012, 09:17 AM
No race is really completely isolated from others, so it's more about your society setting limits. I imagine like pedigree animals, where you have to prove ancestry for X number of generations. That gives you some leeway for people to have some racial mixing before.

Something to consider is that genetic racial purity is a very colonial attitude. I can see some non-Europeans getting caught up in it, but I can also see a lot of room for resistance. Particularly First Nations, as they have their own land and government, so can set their own rules.


And, finally, can anyone think of a genetically homogeneous group that would appear similar to people who are thoroughly mixed race? I'm thinking of having a character who is upper class and 'pure' but is repeatedly mistaken as lower class because whatever version of 'purity' he's displaying is physiologically similar to the mixed-race underclass.

In a world where people are attuned to small differences between groups, I'm not sure there is one. The mistakes people make today are mainly caused by not noticing the small stuff. You could possibly make your character a little atypical for their type. A random curly hair mutation in a group with all straight hair. That sort of thing.