Author Topic: Blacks and other ethnic groups.  (Read 11555 times)

Offline GAZKUL

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Blacks and other ethnic groups.
« on: January 27, 2011, 09:44:31 PM »
this has annoyed me for some time but why arn't there any Black or other ethnic space marine chapters? could it be that GW are racist or eurocentric?

Discuss.

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Offline Frostspear

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Re: Blacks and other ethnic groups.
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2011, 09:49:46 PM »
*sigh*

Before assuming anything, I can vouch that he isn't just trolling.

I've done my best to explain various aspects, including Marine pigment alteration and the various European influences surrounding the universe in the first place...but it didn't sink in.

Perhaps somebody could explain better...
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Offline DapperAnarchist

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Re: Blacks and other ethnic groups.
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2011, 10:33:08 PM »
1) there are. Various Marine chapters have been shown to either be majority dark-skinned (sometimes the Sallies, depending on which you listen to, and there was another one, though I can't remember which) or non-Caucasian (White Scars being the obvious) or to contain non-white officers (Imperial Fists have at least one dark-skinned character).

2) GW are a bit Eurocentric, though not racist, I would argue. GW tend to simply leave out non-white groups (other than Mongols, as mentioned) - JRR Tolkein, the inspiration behind it all, was actively racist, or at least has been interpreted this was, with the distinction between the Good kingdoms of Norse/Celt Gondor and Rohan, Little England Hobbits, and super Aryan Elves and the Bad Fallen Kingdoms, with Bedouin robes and elephants and scimitars. This covers a lot of influential fantasy - Narnia contains the good, civilised kingdom of white people and talking animals in Narnia, then their barbaric and cruel Arab/African neighbours to the south, featured in The Horse and His Boy, while Lovecraft named his cat "Niggerman", and wrote extensively about his disgust for the "half-breeds" that he lived among in a poor immigrant area of New York. GW is mostly pretty good when it comes to race relations - unlike my box of colouring pencils as a child, they didn't called Bronzed Flesh or Elf Flesh just "skin colour".  They also made a Turk the ruler of the Galaxy...

I think the pigment alteration should actually create darker skinned Marines, frankly. But I haven't done anything about that
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Offline MarcoSkoll

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Re: Blacks and other ethnic groups.
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2011, 10:44:04 PM »
Even just looking at the First Legions, the White Scars are based on Mongolian tribal culture, the Salamanders are depicted with skin colours ranging from brown to pure black (depending on artist) and the Thousand Sons are heavily Egyptian in theme. And I also think there's one that has elements of ancient Chinese culture, but I may be misremembering something there, because I can't work out which it was supposed to be.
And yes, the Emperor himself is from Turkey.

GW is primarily intended for a western market, and so their products reflect that, but that does not make them racist.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2011, 10:46:37 PM by MarcoSkoll »
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Offline Myriad

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Re: Blacks and other ethnic groups.
« Reply #4 on: January 28, 2011, 12:44:40 AM »
As others have pointed out, there's more a lack of different ethnicities than any active discrimination.  In the 40K case especially, I think there's a passive kind of racism in the omission.  It is more simply eurocentrism though - in WFB, the old world is basically europe and most of the other areas happen to be occupied by lizardmen, ogres and other fantasy races.

By the time a marine is through the various augmentations, I always reckoned traces of his original ethnicity would be remote.  A few chapters are described as dark skinned though.  I'm a bit more disturbed by the lack of diversity in the guard, which I guess we could put down as much to the skin tones in their paint range as anything else.  Oddly enough, I did once get worried by the lack of ethnic (and gender, as I recall) diversity in my own inquisitor collection, with the result below - if this really bothers you do something similar!
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Offline Morcus

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Re: Blacks and other ethnic groups.
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2011, 02:37:30 AM »
As above I think your reading into something that isn't really there.

There are SM of many different 'Ethnic Backgrounds' and the same for guard and everything else. Also Intresting that Ratskins haven't been mentioned as they could arguably be a bit racist (I don't think they specifically are but I think some people might.)

I think it would be more racist to have 'token Ethnics'.

Offline GAZKUL

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Re: Blacks and other ethnic groups.
« Reply #6 on: January 28, 2011, 05:51:24 PM »
A lot of valid points here, in particular the ones about the stereotypical fantasy influences.

it's something which has irritated me since entering the hobby, in particular the notable majority of guard regiments who're white (catachans, steel legion, krieg, elysians, cadians, valhallans, skull takers etc), okay there are some exceptions to this but like Morcus said they're more along the lines of token ethnics to any real attempt to integrate coloured and other ethnic groups into the game.

In my own guard army, the Cadian 541st i've aimed for a fairly even split between black, white and Asian. i'm sure many others have done the same but how come GW doesn't seem be able to grasp the concept of racial equality?
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Offline greenstuff_gav

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Re: Blacks and other ethnic groups.
« Reply #7 on: January 28, 2011, 06:10:14 PM »
in particular the notable majority of guard regiments who're white (catachans,

wasn't there a period where the majority of Catachans were black?
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Offline MarcoSkoll

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Re: Blacks and other ethnic groups.
« Reply #8 on: January 28, 2011, 06:31:50 PM »
I'm sure many others have done the same but how come GW doesn't seem be able to grasp the concept of racial equality?
Because "Oh yeah, the platoon sergeant is black" wouldn't go down very well in a Black Library novel, and feels like shoehorning in a black guy for the sake of it.
Also, using a term like "Asian" would be really disruptive to the immersion of a story, because it means about as much in 40k as the words "British" or "French" - the old Terran terms for different ethnicities or nationalities would no longer mean anything in the 41st Millennium.

I don't think it's that GW don't grasp the concept, but that actually describing someone by their ethnicity is a bit of a taboo thing and because most of the terms we use to describe nationalities are probably long since lost by those days.

Also, have you any idea how many ethnicities there would be in the 41st millennium? While you're grouping modern ethnicities into large groups like "White, Black, Asian", that's probably not even possible in the Imperium, and many of their ethnicities would be completely alien to us.
I doubt there's anyone in the 41st millennium who could make sense of more than the most basic racial groups of their own planet, let alone any other planet, so that they no longer bother is not that surprising.
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Offline Kaled

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Re: Blacks and other ethnic groups.
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2011, 07:11:59 PM »
In my own guard army, the Cadian 541st i've aimed for a fairly even split between black, white and Asian.
I see why you've done what you've done - but what makes you think Cadia has an even split of ethnic groups corresponding to what you'd call black, white and Asian? Why haven't you included all the other 'ethnic' groups that might exist by then. After millennia of genetic tinkering and mutation there's likely to be plenty of other arbitrary groups you could and, in the name of 'equality', should have included n your army if you think Cadia has an even split of all the different ethnicities that exist in the Imperium.
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Offline GAZKUL

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Re: Blacks and other ethnic groups.
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2011, 09:22:22 PM »
In my own guard army, the Cadian 541st i've aimed for a fairly even split between black, white and Asian.
I see why you've done what you've done - but what makes you think Cadia has an even split of ethnic groups corresponding to what you'd call black, white and Asian? Why haven't you included all the other 'ethnic' groups that might exist by then. After millennia of genetic tinkering and mutation there's likely to be plenty of other arbitrary groups you could and, in the name of 'equality', should have included n your army if you think Cadia has an even split of all the different ethnicities that exist in the Imperium.

good idea, on to it. on topic i guessed that cadia would be a temperate world smiler to earth and races would be similar.
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Offline DapperAnarchist

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Re: Blacks and other ethnic groups.
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2011, 09:32:37 PM »
Apart from Cadia, like all human worlds apart from Terra, is colonised - and the implication in various sources is that he original colonies were very very small, single communities that spread. 20 to 30 thousand years will create variations, obviously, but the variations between human populations took longer, I believe.

Also, Cadia, being a military world, could well involve a lot more "shuffling" of the population, as families are moved between the Kasrs, and hence a lot more mixing of the genetics - and so would have little to no racial distinctions within a couple generations, especially as planetary and Imperial loyalty would override regional, and so remove any taboos on intermarriage between Kasrs.
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Offline Heroka Vendile

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Re: Blacks and other ethnic groups.
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2011, 12:22:28 AM »
I think most of the important points have already been covered, but I would place special emphasis on the fact that all human worlds in the imperium except Terra are the results of colonisation - their origins could be anything from 20 survivors of a crashed shuttle to a packed colonisation ship carrying 500,000 people - but the point is that from this will come an overall planetary set of genetic traits to define the "race" of each world. So you will find planets of what we would refer to as Chinese or Peruvian or Maori or whatever, but to the Imperium they're just "humans from planet X".

Plus over 28,000 years (now in 2,000 till Great Crusade in 30,000) humans have developed into Ratlings, Ogryns and many other "abhuman" types, heck Voidborn is an ethnicity as far as the imperium is concerned, nevermind talk of skin colour - who knows what the average human will look like in 38,000 years time anyway.

If we were to be super cynical about all this and look at it strictly from a business end though - Arian men are the most reliable way to sell anything globally pretty much - that's not racism, that's cold hard fact.


Another separate point is that I have never seen a Death Korps of Krieg model or artwork with a bare head. They have German-sounding names, sure, but why does that mean they're necessarily white?
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Offline biggreengribbly

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Re: Blacks and other ethnic groups.
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2011, 03:09:05 AM »
Another separate point is that I have never seen a Death Korps of Krieg model or artwork with a bare head. They have German-sounding names, sure, but why does that mean they're necessarily white?

There is one to my knowledge. In one of the old 'Regiments on Armageddon' Articles in White Dwarf. I can find the number if you're that curious. There's a three-headshot boxin of a stock gasmask/helmet trooper, the vehicle crewy variant mask/helmet, and a third with a bare head. It's little snippets like that of old that sour my opinion rather of Forgeworld's Faceless, nameless, lifeless, permanently masked meatwall-expendable in an army pf meatwall expendables in a culture of meatwall expenditure, clone-soldier take on the Korps.

Offline Macabre

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Re: Blacks and other ethnic groups.
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2011, 01:39:09 PM »
Most of the model-made IG regiments were based on historical archetypes; the Catachan were based on US troops during the Vietnamese War, The Tallarn were (at least originally) a Lawrence of Arabia type but they've become more middle-eastern now, the Attilan Rough Riders are based on the mongol horseriders, the Praetorian were influenced by the Light Brigade and other regiments of that era, the Mordian guard were (in my opinion) based on the US Marine no.1 uniform, the Steel Legion were based on both the British and German uniform of WW1, and the Valhallan regiments have obvious ties with the troops of Stalinist Russia.

Likewise, the same could be said for the first founding Astartes legion, now they've been expanded, you do have some racial traits applied to the various legions, such as; the dark, almost black skin of the Salamanders, the Mediterranean lineage of the Ultramarines and Emperor's Children (who have been described as having olive skin and long noses), the mongol inspiration of the White Scars, the Scandinavian look of the Space Wolves, the decidedly Persian heritage of the Word Bearers and the Egyptian visuals of the Thousand Sons.

This trend of 'passive racist' from GW can be possibly explained by three reasons;

One: GW has to appeal to their main customer demographic, which is (let's face it), middle class, socially awkward, white caucasian male teens. Now although this doesn't have a significant bearing on this subject, it may shed some light as to why the human race in 40k has an obvious lack of other racial representation (much in the same way as statistically, female 40k gamers tend to play Tyranids).

Two: GW would rather shy away from other racial representation in their models, due to the s**tstorm of litigation that can often occur (which is the major reason why Araby has never been expanded upon beyond Warmaster). Unfortunately, unless you're a superlative sculptor, you run the risk of any 'ethnic' miniature looking almost caricatured or stereotypical (such as Al Muktar's desert dogs with their big beards and moustaches and turbans), and that such imagery is more often due to sincerely held religious observance rather than a genetic trait.

Three: as has already been pointed out, ethnic boundaries and racial groups have almost no bearing in the 40k universe, we have moved on beyond inter-species conflict and hatred mostly because we have bigger concerns with other alien races.

Indeed, territorial claims such as; "you're Pakistani" or "you're British" are just ludicrous concepts now, one might as well say "you're Tallarn" or "you're Cadian" which is no more derogatory than a statement of fact.

Likewise religion (which is arguably the cause for most of our inter-species conflict and hatred today) is all controlled by a single governing body, the Ecclesiarchy. And whilst it is true that there are many difference variances in the Imperial Church that stem from world to world, and on occasion this does lead to a war of faith, ultimately it will be over the fundamentals of doctrine rather than racial bigotry.
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