Different But the Same

I am currently helping to design a Vampire LARP set in the early medieval period; part of this is obviously considering how to handle issues of race. Which set me to thinking that the classical perception of race that lingered into the medieval period is in some ways better than the way the United Kingdom government portrays people from the Middle East today.

While archeological and historical evidence is only shows a small part of life and belief in any society, the Greco-Roman definition of race seems to be based on culture/nationality rather than ethnicity and thus could be changed: to the Greeks a person loyal to Persia was a barbarian but if that person swore allegiance to Athens they were Greek; a man of Nubian ethnicity who joined the Roman legion was as Roman as someone who was born within walking distance of the Tiber. Thus, where some modern viewers saw the BBC portrayal of a Roman British family containing an African husband and Caucasian wife as a deliberate (perhaps even forced) display of racial diversity, many of the time might have seen it in the same way that modern Britons see a man from the Midlands married to a woman from Somerset—a thing of perhaps mild interest as a topic of conversation between neighbours but not something that seemed like intermarriage.

Which sparked another thought: striving to not see race, while in many ways a commendable intent, can risk erasing genuine differences; perhaps we should reframe that goal as trying to see every person in the same way we see a person who moves from Wolverhampton into the house next door—an individual who supports a different sportsball team, an individual who calls bread rolls something different, but primarily an individual who intrinsically is no more or less than we are.

As part of seeing everyone as a individual rather than a faceless mass of Other, an individual sharing a little of the story behind them fleeing Afghanistan for the United Kingdom:

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