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Forget race, let’s talk about aliens
Let’s imagine for a moment that humans developed a spacecraft capable of traveling through a wormhole, taking us to another galaxy where a single planet was inhabited by other life forms. Aliens, essentially.
Now imagine that after we humans lived amongst these aliens–called Phagins– for an entire year, we found their planet functions on four distinct principles. One, they have a book, locked away, containing the cardinal laws their planet was created upon. Two, their ruling body is equally divided into three groups: one group designated to forming new laws, one group designated to carrying out those laws and one group that strictly enforces the laws. Three, the planet’s leader is elected by inhabitants of a certain age and the leader has the role of representing their alien population in the decisions he or she makes on behalf of the aliens. And four, all of the aliens are created equal, born with equal rights, despite slight differences in regards to the shape of their heads.
Roughly three-quarters of the aliens on the planet have circular heads while one-quarter have ovular, football-shaped heads. Based on the observations from the humans that lived amongst them for a year, both groups possess the exact same anatomical composition besides the subtle difference in head shape. However, our spacemen and spacewomen learned that those who formulated the book of cardinal laws by which the planet operates all had circular-shaped heads, and for most of the planet’s existence—beginning with the contemporaries of those who formulated the book—the ovular-headed aliens were maltreated, forced to live in the slums and for a while were even treated as personal laborers for the circle heads. It was not long before the spacemen and spacewomen arrived on their planet that the ovular-headed aliens finally broke free of this misfortune when the planet established new laws that kept ovular-headed aliens from being deprived of the same freedoms that circular-headed aliens were entitled to.
Despite these laws, when the people of earth visited the slums and detainment chambers of the planet, they found they were occupied mostly by ovular-headed aliens. This confused the humans of earth because when roaming around the more densely populated parts of the alien planet, all seemed fair and equal, and the circular- and ovular-headed aliens seemed to coexist quite naturally without any apparent discriminatory behavior. Yet seeing the poorer parts of the planet led them to believe otherwise.
As the spacemen and women investigated more into the matter, they discovered that about 3 percent of all male oval-headed aliens were detained in the planet’s chambers whereas only 0.5 percent of circular-headed aliens were detained in the same chambers. In addition to these findings, the spacemen and women learned the circular-headed aliens earned about 55,000 groncs (the planet’s currency) per year. Meanwhile, the oval-headed aliens earned about 32,000 groncs per year.
When the spacemen and women asked the circular-headed aliens what they thought of the disparity and whether they notice it on a day-to-day basis, a surprising number seemed confused and unaware of what the humans were indicating from their research. Many alluded to prestigious positions currently held by ovular-headed aliens and even mentioned having an ovular-headed friend or two, but did not comment on any social disparities between the two groups.
When the spacemen and women raised the same topic to the ovular-headed aliens, there was a much different response. One of the ovular-headed aliens by the name of Trigone struggled to explain to the spacemen and women of earth why such social disparities have resulted on a planet where all aliens are born of the same anatomical composition and rights.
He finally gave up trying to explain and simply said to them, in their native language: “Me trying to explain to you or any of the other circle heads on this planet the discrimination that exists would be the same as me trying to explain to a human what it’s like to be a Phagin. Or as someone on your planet might say, ‘a fish trying to explain to a dog what it’s like to be a fish.’ No words or metaphors or similes can ever convey how discrimination feels because discrimination is something that must be felt—it must be experienced. And it does not matter how similar our lives as oval heads compared to the lives of circle heads might seem in your human eyes or in the circle heads’ eyes, but the truth is, our Phagin nature and the nature of every life form is to immediately recognize when a being is dissimilar to you. At one point in our existence, being able to distinguish dissimilarity between life forms was a survival instinct. But, unfortunately that same instinct has now become a tool for discrimination. Three quarters of our population is blind to the discrimination and because there are no immediate threats to their existence as a result and because no one tells them of their blindness, they remain blind. A child born blind does not know he is blind until he is told. The struggle after the child is told he is blind then becomes how to explain to the child what he’s been blind to when the child has never seen or experienced sight in the first place.”
Trigone went on to comment on how he feels that as the social imbalance on the planet continues to correct itself as slowly as it has for the past few decades, then the frustration of the ovular-headed community will build up and break out in any way it can. This could be at any opportunity, for any injustice which the ovular-headed community feels reflects the greater injustice of the circumstances that so much of their population is forced to endure. Trigone said that the trigger for an outbreak could be anything, but an outbreak should be expected; so if it happens, and if it happens unexpectedly, then it most likely came at a time when it was needed most.