“Who’s the fairest of them all”- An agony of dystopia

By Bushra Salahuddin

Remember Queen Grimhilde, or to adhere to the fictional character’s common name “The Evil Queen” in Snow White, who used to stand a chance, in front of her “Magic Mirror” and ask this question?  Dreading the answer with Fury, in case she wasn’t deemed the “fairest” which in the fairy tales, meant the most beautiful!

Dystopian societies appeared in many fictional works and artistic representations, particularly in stories set in the Rural heartlands; with Dreams of Appropriations of the “Urban Ecstasy”. Having been through a few genres of Afro-American and Australian Literatures, it seems quite plausible to unfold the characteristics of Discrimination and Dehumanisation, tyrannical governments, environmental disasters and several others that are associated with the cataclysmic decline in any society.

“You don’t have any other society where the educated classes are so effectively indoctrinated and controlled by a subtle propaganda system – a private system, intellectual opinion forming magazines and the participation of the most highly educated sections of the population. They set up and maintain a system of doctrines and beliefs which will undermine independent thought and prevent a proper understanding and analysis of national and global institutions, issues, and policies.”Noam Chomsky said in his book Language and Politics (1988).

Even the pages from her life reflect a cloudburst of agony and emotional crisis in her world. Her coming-of -age story blazing bright on how the strength of character and a love of literature can help overcome racism and trauma. Reckoning both; the nightmares and the tales, when she gracefully transforms from a victim of racism with an inferiority complex into a self-possessed, dignified young woman capable of responding to prejudice.

Even, the ‘Terra Nullius’ in Australia against the native aboriginals, for instance, to expand their conquest areas, the settlers declared the land on which dark-skinned indigenous people were living to be ‘uninhabited’ or “nobody’s land” seems like an agony of political control.

But the association of darker with something lesser, something less formed, more violent, takes us back to far more primitive times. Our stereotypes about the common expressions: Dark and Difficult Days, The Darkest Hour Is Just Before The Dawn, The Heart of Darkness and The Dark Ages, aren’t even partially enlightened.

People of colour face a challenge which many of us are reluctant to consider recognising-that white is seen as privileged and that not being white or fair is consequently seen as an inferior status.

One of the advantages of living in the 21st Century is that we can evaluate the cultural myths that have been imposed on us: see how they started, see through them, and set them aside, if they are damaging and belittling to us and to the progress of the society.

//Even though a White Rose has a Black Shadow, but only those who, Themselves Enlightened, aren’t Afraid of Shadows//

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