When given the gifts and the ultimatum, Tlalcihuatl pouted and sulked, but after a stern look from her father and threat from her mother that the gift could be taken away, she accepted, albeit ungraciously. She ran to her room and immediately began to color. Every now and then she peered through the clouds and watched the grey inhabitants’ awe and excitement as everything changed in the blink of an eye. At times there was confusion and even fear; then she would leave off coloring for a week or two to allow the tiny ant-like people to come to terms with the changing world around them.
She colored leaf green valleys and blood red tulips; red oxide earth and terracotta tiles; fir green trees and golden yellow poppies. Rivers and seas changed from ultramarine blue to indigo and sea green. The skies were royal blue to the lightest baby blue imaginable, with clouds in brightest white to a dark stormy grey. Corn fields, vegetable patches and lawns became delightfully gaudy; houses and materials were re-created in contrasting colors and according to region. With changing seasons came new, fresh colors and boredom was swept away.
The inhabitants were last on Tlilcihuatl’s list. She had something special in mind for them. As the earth rotated slowly on its axis she worked at night to color the skin in soft strokes and a variegated palette. In China she chose pale white with a yellow undertone, in darkest Africa ebony black, in India burnt umber, in Native America white with an undertone of red in the European countries and South Africa shades of white. When she looked down from out of the clouds everything was pretty much as usual as everyone looked and thought the same in each continent. They had the same culture, the same food preferences, and the same religion, according to country. As she hued her way around the globe she decided that she should mix the skin colors in every region, just to make it interesting. She started again and mixed skin colors, religions and cultures throughout the world. Satisfied she sat back and watched the world turn. She neglected to tell her parents that she had finished though.
Months went by and she forgot about her coloring and the inhabitants below, until her parents abruptly stormed into her room demanding to know why everything on earth was in such turmoil. Wars had broken out and peace was supplanted by envy, hatred and discrimination. Tlilcihuatl looked at them both with a puzzled expression on her face. Huitzilopchtli and Coyolxauhqui angrily demanded to know how her gift and subsequent art project was coming along.
“Oh, I finished ages ago,” she boldly declared, where after a row broke out as to which parent should have been taking an interest, as seems always to be the case even on our tiny planet. When the screaming died down they patiently explained that the earth had changed incontrovertibly and that the human race were at each other’s throats over the tiniest disagreement or difference in opinion. . Huitzilopchtli and Coyolxauhqui were running around trying to douse fires and settle controversies and eventually realized that it could only be due to their daughter’s gift and the changes she had wrought. It was not in their power to revert it back. Tlilcihuatl shrugged her shoulders innocently and replied: “You should have known better, I am the goddess of earth after all.”
Thus, dear reader is how the earth became a multi-hued splendor and races were divided and the words racism and apartheid were born. Simple isn’t it?