As a white man the concept of racism has always held my attention, not as one who has suffered its harsh lash, but as a member of a race that has so often been the oppressor throughout history. I have always had the desire to address the concept of racism and to understand how it occurs in the human mind.
Over time, I have realized that a large portion of racism comes from how Caucasians tend to view “inferior” cultures. We as a culture and a people tend to judge those who are technologically inferior as being more primitive and “tribal” than they actually are. I have also realized that many Caucasians simply do not realize the basic assumptions they have made of these people or how they are wrong. In truth, the very concept of “civilization” places massive value on certain arbitrary cultural values and uses these values to place certain people groups above others.
In order to help illustrate the habitual racism that many unthinkingly employ, I have invented a man named Theocrates. Theocrates is a fictional ambassador from the technologically advanced nation of Atlantis. As an ambassador, Theocrates will be writing to his king about the savage nature of modern Americans, a people who are technologically and culturally inferior to the Atlanteans. And with this introduction I will begin his letter.
“To my most gracious King,
I am writing to you concerning the truly savage rituals of the abhorrent culture you have sent me to investigate. I have recently witnessed a scene of such exotic savagery that I feel I must bring it to your attention.
Several days ago, I asked my host to show me a form of the entertainment that the common American savage might indulge himself in. After a few seconds he declared that he knew just the thing I might be interested in. We got into his vehicle some time later and presently we arrived at a large coliseum. This was the point where things began to go downhill. Outside the coliseum many people were gathered. To my horror I saw that many were cooking food over open fires out in the open air. As far as I could tell there was not a single truly sophisticated oven or stove in sight. When I asked my guide why these people would prepare their food in such an abysmal fashion, he gave me the kind of answer that only a savage American could produce. They did so for fun.
After we had made our way through the hordes encamped outside the coliseum we made our way inside. There I saw that the building was surrounding a great, flat, field. This field was covered with what could only have been what the Americans considered to be magical runes and symbols (this is of course primitive and unscientific nonsense). At either end of the field a great tribal idol had been erected. Each idol had both arms outstretched, and each was painted yellow in the semblance of gold (I highly doubt that any American could ever afford that much real gold).
As I looked, I saw several men on the field who could only have been priests. I could tell this because they were dressed in black and white costumes that seemed highly ceremonial and clearly denoted their authority above the other figures on the field. Of the other figures there seemed to be several types. The most notable groups were the two teams of players. As I looked I saw that these men wore heavy armor, the purpose of which I would realize in a moment. Strangely, they were all arrayed identically with the only main difference being the fact that each team had an arbitrarily different set of colors in their uniforms.
There were also two groups of scantily clad women on the side lines who’s only purpose seemed to be to whip the crowd into a fervor.
It was at this point that I realized, most of the crowd had come wearing the colors of one of the teams. From this I guessed that each set of colors represented a different tribe. Each team was obviously meant to play for the honor of its tribe, and the black and white priests were obviously meant to mediate between the two. As for the women, I can only assume they were each team’s concubines come to urge their men onward (as I have said, the Americans are savages).
Having discerned the meaning of the savages’ symbolism, I now wondered what type of savage sport would be played. I must tell you, my king, that for all my experience with the American savages I could not have ever prepared myself for the barbarity that I witnessed that day.
All I know for sure is that one of the priests introduced a small object to one of the teams, and within moments they were at each other’s throats. I have never in my life seen such a display of violence. Each team charged headlong at its rival as the crowds cheered in admiration. The barbarity grew evermore ridiculous as one of the players managed to move the object (I was later told that it was a ball) to the feet of one of the idols. There I saw, to my astonishment, that the player performed some form of tribal dance, this was no doubt meant to honor the idol and his tribe.
At this point I began to turn away from the blood-bath below. It was also at this point that my host offered me some of the native food. I asked what it was called and he told me it was called a ‘Hot dog’. I took a bite and for a moment I found it pleasant. I then asked as to the contents of the dish and upon hearing the answer I lost all appetite.
This is all I have to say about the sorry state of this primitive culture’s entertainment. I will continue to search for whatever semblance of sophistication they may have in other areas, but until I send my next letter I have nothing else to speak of.
Your servant Theocrates.”
And with that I conclude the first Letter to Atlantis. I may write more in the future but until then, best wishes.
P.S. Tyler T. you still need to get back to me about editing my novella.