What am I?

Another blog post to give information, background and general knowledge on the post-apocalyptic world featured in Sojourners in Shadow:

So a number of the defining aspects to being a person either no longer apply or are much harder to categorise in this post-apoc world, filled with creatures and creations. Things such as nationality, race, ethnicity and more have become muddled, forgotten about, changed, and yet to some still remain very important. There are no labels that work worldwide, although it could very strongly be claimed those don’t fit now. But this world is far more fractured, with some parts of it having no idea what even exists beyond the horizon. Genealogy is something many cannot trace back beyond a few generations. Racial and cultural history has no meaning for them, sometimes by choice, mostly by ignorance. The present is all that matters. Whatever group that is your group is everything you need to care about and all you need to care about. You don’t get to fuss about differences when your survival is dependent on people helping each other out.

Displacement has occurred in many places around the world, with people fleeing homes centuries ago and now residing in lands once thought far away. In Australia, you have Brits, Americans and Japanese co-existing in their respective colonies, alongside their hosts. Still, because of this, these all define themselves by their nationality, and the three white races have their issues with the single non-white race, and vice versa. In central Asia, many ethnicities have merged as the humans sought to survive, now forming a plethora of settlements across the plains. To these people, the idea of referring to anyone as ‘Asian’ is absurd, as they are all from there, yet four main racial groups do exist and generalised terms such as Arabian and Caucasian are now the norm. Some will define themselves more specifically, such as the famous Tsunami, who is purely Japanese, but most won’t bother – they have more important issues to deal with and they also know few others will care.

Fracturing has had a huge impact too. Nations dissolved, empires rose and then were thrown down. Russia split and soon many people deemed themselves to be Siberian. The U.S.A. slowly stretched and strayed, until the Pacific States and the Atlantic States were rivals, trading with different parts of the world. The United Kingdom ceased to exist and the Oligarchs ascended to command in Central Europe. When the Shadow World came and made so much worse, it also changed the Middle East, which became a battleground as humans who followed Islam, Judaism and Christianity united to defend it against those powerful monsters that sought to ravage these sacred lands and break their faith.

Religion itself has less hold of people’s identities while remaining a vital part of their lives. There are no central authorities to dictate how people should worship. No international figures to inspire or instruct. People keep their own faith and small communities tend to worship together, if at all. The main difference is among mutants. While many worship the gods of the humans, a significant number worship the mutant god, Gilgamesh. They await their saviour, believing he will one day hand the world over to them. Seeing as he is a incredibly powerful mutant currently contained in a dormant state, this may well happen.

Mutants have impacted on the racial identities too. Many designed mutants were created not to look the same as their creators or the community they were made to defend. People wanted different looking super soldiers – partly to prevent too much unity, partly because diversity was often seen as necessary. But also, some authorities wanted a force that felt detached from those around them, so that it could be turned on them if need be. Therefore a number of created mutants were soon walking the earth, part of a certain race and yet having no real lasting ties to that race or its past which defines it.

So in many ways defining someone racially or ethnically is really only done to help describe someone. Usually physically, but perhaps wishing to give some kind of insight into who and what they are as well, and how they may behave or see certain things. Racism still exists, of course, but it has much less meaning and more often is contained in ignorant comments. If one racial group dominates, then there tends to be some casual contempt or distrust for those who look different, but it rarely goes beyond that unless they feel threatened as well. In the Octagon State, where eight underground bases have survived and most of their inhabitants are white, there is a sense of being better than those not white, yet such is their dominance and such is their vicious war with super-soldiers, that there is rarely persecution. In the Northern Federation, where cities have prevailed amidst the magically-charged jungles of Africa, everyone is black, and yet some may have a slightly lighter tone to their skin, suggesting an ancestor or two from another race. This is never a cause for outright contempt, yet it may raise some notice and perhaps some jokes, as Ensign Ali finds from his low ranking crewmates, Chisel and Wrench.

Nationality is perhaps the weakest label to remain. People will often refer to themselves as coming from a place, but that is all the name means to them. Being British means you live in the British Isles or in New Britannia, in Australasia, and while the latter has more sense of identity and history, the inhabitants of the once United Kingdom are more defined by what village they live in or what master or guardian they answer to. Even with the colony in Australasia, many Britons move around, especially spreading further into the central and wilder area, as do the Americans and Australians, so nationalism makes way for new and more independent identities.

The ways of the world before the collapse, before the Shadow World, have little meaning to those who live in it. Most of them have no knowledge of what went before them. Nations and races can have a degree of importance for many, but it rarely keeps people from uniting to survive when they have to. Monsters work together and so do the various types of mutants. The numerous threats to humanity means it cannot afford the luxury of bigotry. Hate people for any reason you want, but save your utmost hatred for those trying to kill you.

So how do people define themselves? Cyborgs do so by sect. Monsters by tribe or clan or pack, etc. Even then, there are always those exceptions to the rule. For most humans, if they have to declare a racial identity, it is usually whatever they mostly are. If three grandparents are from Argentina and one is from Yemen, then typically you forgo specific locations and degrees of heritage and simply say you are Hispanic. Even then, many around the world would have no idea what that meant, let alone the differences that can create between people. Perhaps you wouldn’t either. The truth is many people around the world can’t say for sure if they are 100% anything, even if they look it. They may use national, racial, ethnic and cultural labels, but rarely is anything an undisputed fact in this world.

The essential truth is most people around the world will see another person’s differences, may even be suspicious of them, but typically they will wonder if this is someone that can harm them or if they will be the victor, and what could be gained by killing this individual. If nothing, then perhaps an alliance is in order. It’s true that keeping to your own is the safer bet, yet someone’s own has become redefined by the standards of the time and even then, sometimes you will have to take a risk.

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