Having a blog is a really interesting exercise. I thought it would be a great place to write, to think and share but I'm so very bad at any kind of journalling that I can't do it regularly. I have all kinds of witty, brilliant insights on the way to work, eating dinner or in the shower and I think "Oh man, I'll have to write about this!" Then I get here and …
I second guess whatever wit I thought I had, dismiss all those brilliant notions as foolish and wonder what to write about. So, today, I just threw all that out the door and decided to just write off the top of my head and see what happens. Does it come out beautifully? Is there anything interesting going on in the top of my head today? Hmmm. Remains to be seen.
I am writing an essay that picks up the topic of racism in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and finding that there isn't much out there in the way of academic opinions directly on this. People tend to mention co-operation between the races and the marriages of Elves/Men (3 of them) and dismiss the whole idea as non-existant. I too think it's non-existant but I think we need to look deeper. The mark of race politics has left deep, raw, oozing cuts in our modern psyche. Living in North America, it isn't easy or advisable to gloss over the history of slavery and injustice, but I'm also an Indian from the Caribbean. My grandmother, even my father, once lived in a society where the Indians and Africans did the labour on plantations owned by Europeans/British. You couldn't speak disrespectfully to a white person. You couldn't go into their neighbourhood unless you were a servant in their houses. Hindu marriages were not recognized a legal so Indian wives were not legally wives (so they were just whores?) and their children were all illegitimate.
Of course, this changed. Times changed and what was once accepted is no longer tolerable. Yet race politics is still prevalent in many places, and we see injustices all the time. Right now we have a situation with the Mohawk nation standing up for what is their right, their land. I always think of the Gondorians giving land to the people of Rohan, land that the Dunlendings lived on. I don't analyze it, I just think about it. If I was from Dunland, how would I feel? Wouldn't that alone set me up to be foes of the West? Of course there is other history to the Dunlendings to consider.
But does this kind of thing make Tolkien's work racist? He uses themes of light and dark, his invading nations come from the East and South. Does that make his work racially charged? I don't see how since the people he is writing about are based on people and cultures in Northern Europe. If that makes the work some example of race politics at play, then many, many world myths can be accused of the same. There's a difference between your cultural point of view and economic, social, and political subjugation for gain. The essays I've been reading don't really seem to get to the hydra-like heart of what racism is so that it can address what Tolkien was trying to do in his work. Hmmm … well a lot of thinking and reading to be done. And writing. Will let you know what I come up with.