A Fairy Tale
Once upon a time, a long time ago, two peoples lived together in a magnificent land. They were alike in every way apart from their eyes: the Aristians had blue eyes and the Proliens had brown eyes. Some Prolien elders also claimed to discern a difference in the cadence of their voices. The Aristians lived in the most fertile parts of the land, where the resources were most plentiful whereas the Proliens were concentrated in areas where the land was poor and there were few resources. Their children received little or no education. Eventually, most of the Aristians lived inside the walls of the cities where the Proliens were only allowed in to work or on ceremonial occasions. The two peoples lived separate lives.
Life was hard for the Proliens but hope was kept alive by the prophecy that every mother passed on to her children. One day, a mighty prince would rule over the land. He would have brown eyes like them and he would rule with love, wisdom and justice. “How can this be?” the children would ask. “The Aristians keep us outside the walls. We will never be powerful enough to overthrow them.”
One day, the Aristians were celebrating a royal marriage, when a Prolien woman pushed through the crowd and sat down in front of the royal carriage as it passed through the streets. The king was beside himself with rage and had her thrown into prison. The Prolien people were also getting angry: they were tired of being humble all the time. This woman was an inspiration to them. They started to demonstrate in order to voice their grievances. To their surprise, they found leaders amongst their numbers. One leader’s eloquent speech gave them a dream of a better future, hardening their resolve. They won concessions. One Aristian king finally agreed that the Proliens should receive a proper education alongside their Aristian peers.
Aristian kings continued to rule over the land: some were good and some were not so good. When Princess Aurora announced that she was pregnant, she received the best care available. However, as the time for her confinement drew near, she became more and more withdrawn; there was a mysterious expression in her clear blue eyes. When she gave birth to a son, everyone was delighted until the midwife noticed the colour of his eyes: they were brown.
In the months that followed, many wise men put forward as to why the young prince’s eyes were brown. Maybe he was a throwback to many generations earlier and the king’s line was not as pure as he had claimed. Maybe her husband did not have a pure Aristian pedigree. The princess listened to all the arguments going on around her with the same mysterious look in her eyes as when she was pregnant but she kept the truth to herself.
And so the prophecy came to pass. The prince grew up to be gracious to all his subjects; both Aristians and Proliens, with whom he mixed with equal ease. When the time came for him to marry, he chose a Prolien woman. This shocked his grandparents at first, but such was his charm that he won them round. What they didn’t know was that a well as his brown eyes, and the cadence of his voice, discernible to some of the elders, a big part of his heart belonged to the Prolien people.
My perspective on the inauguration of Barrack Obama, as the 44th president of the United States of America is affected by having a mixed race grandson. Most of us have mixed ancestry but this shows up most dramatically when one parent is black and the other is white. I see iObama as resolving the binary opposition between black and white. He has identified with the black community by marrying a black woman, a descendent of slaves, but he also owes much of who he is to his white mother and grandparents.
I’m aware that what I’m presenting here is too simplistic. I’ve glossed over the question of identity and colour isn’t the only thing that divides people; language and religion are also a source of conflict.
The following poem was in my first ever blog post on 24.09.06.
To My Grandson
Slung between cultures, your cradle is rocked
Between two islands half a world apart;
Your Taiwanese grandmother’s shaken and shocked;
Her daughter’s betrothal has broken her heart.
Forsaking tea houses where your forbears fled,
You may come to England to make a new start;
She makes chicken soup to counter her fear
Whilst I long to hold you and play a small part.
The tribes of Europe have mingled and merged
Through conquest and change of location;
Shamrock, flamenco, a Russian Jew’s smile,
Bed down with developing nation.
The future belongs to small people like you,
As east meets with west you’ll surely win through.
(Rupert Sebastian or Kai Chiang was born in Taiwan on November 3rd 2002. He now lives in Switzerland where he is being educated in French.)
Blue Mink – Melting Pot
Ceremonies is the prompt at Totally Optional Prompts and cadence, humble and resolve are the words at 3WW
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