What I saw here in Windhelm as a Dark-Elf Wizard was not very encouraging. I decided I needed a stout drink and ventured on forth to Candlehearth hall. As I walk into the bar, the bar tender loudly scoffs at me, “Another Dark-elf? Why don’t you just move along.” Not wanting to pick a fight, I decide to find another place to drink.
I wind up in the Jarl’s (Cheiftain’s) palace. The local Jarl is a man called Ulfric Stormcloak, Jarl of Eastmarch and Windhelm and leader of the Stormcloak rebellion, and he is seated on his throne talking about his rebel group’s battle tactics decidedly too loudly. I spot a man sitting at one of the tables infront of the Jarl eating, and strike up a conversation with him. He is Brunwulf-Freewinter, one of the town notables, and has a few choice words for Ulfric, even if the Jarl is just a few feet away. He tells me “Whenever a group of marauders attack a Nord village, Ulfric is the first to sound the horn, send the men. But a group of Dark Elf refugees get ambushed? A group of Argonians, or a Khajit caravan? No troops. No investigation. No nothing.”
This is the strongest sign of institutionalized racism in Windhelm. I noticed that the guards turned a blind eye when Suvaris Atheron was being bullied, but the racism is rooted more deeply than in the local police force. The racism can be traced to the very top, up to Ulfric Stormcloak himself. A similar path could be traced within the American government until very recently, because the American government once disenfranchised African Americans with voting laws. The parrallel between African Americans and the Dark elves is given further strength when we consider that there is disproportionate number of Dark Elves in the Stormcloak government like how there are a disproportionate number of African Americans serving in the American judicial branch.
The things that Freewinter had to tell me were disconcerting, but he gave me a way to help out the minorities in Windhelm, I could take care of a bandit band that had been preying on them. A minor allegory can be drawn here, as criminals do disproportionately prey on minorities more than whites due to the simple fact that a larger percentage of minorities are impoverished. As I left town to deal with the bandit band, I discover an Argonian enclave by the sides of Windhelm harbor.
I travel down to the Argonian enclave to see what their opinion is on the racism in Windhelm, and interview an Argonian called Scouts-Many-Marshes. He sighs a name in disgust, “Torbjorn Shatter-Shield,” and continues “He says an Argonian’s labor is only worth a tenth of a proper Nord’s labor. My people are not slaves.” I sympathise with Scouts-Many-Marshes frustrations, and I also learn that they are not welcome in the city. They are forced to live in a ghetto by the harbor. I wonder out loud if I could do anything to help him out, and Scouts-Many-Marshes replies that I could talk to Torbjorn Shatter-Shield for him, but finding a helping hand in the docks was a slim chance because “Nords don’t work cargo.”
The idea that “Nords don’t work cargo” resounds to me personally because it reminds me deeply about Mexican-American labor back home in Southern California. Mexican-Americans are given menial labor that whites refuse to work, perfectly matching the job division between Nord and Argonian. It is pure hypocrisy for a Nord or for a White American to demand that all Mexican-Americans leave America or for Argonians to leave Windhelm because it is the Mexican-Americans and Argonians that keep the place running. Furthermore, it is sad that Mexicans and Argonians are forced into ghettos like the ones they live in. I myself have seen the Mexican ghettos first hand in Southern California, and they are segregated from the white communities like the one I lived in like the way that the Argonians are segregated from the Nords.
I can conclude that the Nord racism in Skyrim is insitutionalized and segregating like the White racism that is present in America. I think I’ll go join the Empire instead.
Next time: Government in Skyrim.