Sounds suspiciously like some twice-removed cousin of Merlin The Magician. While Merlin is best known for being King Arthur’s Court Wizard and Chief Advisor, in truth he was borne out of an amalgamation of historical and legendary figures during the Medieval period in Europe and Britain.

The concept of Merlin still resonates in our modern day; like Gandalf in Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings. But where Gandalf seemed to be able to dispatch both ethereal and physical foes with a sardonic, if not impish twinkle in his eye, Merlin was generally viewed through a darker filter. Not much of anything humorous could be attributed to the machinations and intrigues surrounding his mythical escapades.

While those within his sphere of influence espoused honour, friendship and integrity; the order of the day invariably turned to betrayal, vengeance, hatred and lust. Melanin by comparison, was not just limited to a specific Pre-Victorian period in time, but has been a definitive influence from the time man first drew breath.

So who is Melanin anyway? Apart from being an influencer, this person comes packaged with unique and indelible characteristics that can (and will) provoke reactions (at times volatile) from those with a more focused, some would say narrow, worldview. Melanin is everyone. An Archetype of all of us. Literally, it’s the primary influencer of our skin colour. Melanin is produced by cells called melanocytes and is the pigment that gives human skin, hair, and eyes their colour. As far as people groups go, dark-skinned people have more melanin in their skin than light-skinned people have. A rare few (Albinos), have none at all. But generally all have some quantifiable amount as part of their human DNA.

Compared to Merlin The Magician, Melanin’s sphere of influence is more far-reaching and impactful, given the inherent global scope of the human populace. I am of the belief that not many of us take the time to consider the undeniable and inescapable fact, that we as earth-born humans, share a multitude of common traits; not only physical, but also at the molecular and sub-atomic levels; regardless of the colour of paint we happen to have on.

For centuries there have been those who seek to oppress others because they have a greater (or lesser) percentage of Melanin. Conflicts are constantly spawned between various nation groups with questionable reasons (in some cases without any reason) which are used as justification for wholesale genocide. No matter how much one despises, loathes, or denigrates another, our DNA will not alter. Some may disagree or look at that as a bad thing; but the very “sameness” of our DNA radically brings into sharp relief our blatant and contradictory penchant for racial disharmony.

The Pogrom against the Jews during World War 2 (by Nazi Germany); The African Slave Trade in the Americas & the West Indies (by Europe and Great Britain); The (ongoing) dissolution of Indigenous peoples of North & South America (including Canada); child slavery and the extreme misogynistic oppression of women (in India, Bangladesh; Afghanistan), are just a few examples that point to an inherent and seemingly intractable human problem. Probably more so than a racial one. Oppression can be colour blind, just as colour blindness can be oppressive.

In the Western Hemisphere, specifically North America, and the USA, burning embers of past injustices, real and imagined, have been repeatedly stoked by external events in recent months. The winds of mistrust and accusation have blown those rekindled sparks across racial lines once more. If those embers happen to land on dry, parched ground that has never seen the moisture of reconciliation or forgiveness, then a conflagration is all but inevitable.

We up in Canada have to be extremely careful to avoid complacency or smugness, as we watch our neighbours to the south, deal with what is to many down there, an inordinate escalation of history being repeated. Canada has its fair share of skeletons yet to be exhumed in the name of religious intolerance, racial disunity and this country’s very serious indigenous misogyny. In some Canadian circles, just as in the USA, there is a lot of talk about what is wrong, but very little being proposed as viable solutions for the diverse problems that exist.

Given the irrefutable evidence surrounding us as citizens of Earth, which shows we have more in common with each other (aspirations, heartaches, dreams, families, purpose, life, and love, among others), than what differentiates us, maybe it’s high time we look at the elements of common ground as an impetus to begin healing the fractures of history, past and present, that have broken us physically, emotionally and spiritually..

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