What happens in regards to race relations when anyone can arbitrarily change their appearance? This is based in a near-future Earth where normal humans the world over have gained the ability to perform complete, cheap, and perfect visible transformations of their bodies through genetic manipulation.
Current universe rules
- All genetic diseases have been eliminated and continue to be removed from the population as they crop up.
- No alterations to brain structure or chemistry are permitted.
- No speciation is permitted.
- All humanity above age 18 has complete access to all appearance changes resulting from the gene manipulation treatments. Underage persons may request permission for a limited set of treatments from the regulatory body. Requests are generally approved for a child to match appearance with their parents.
- Gene manipulation is treated as a basic human right and is guaranteed to all members of humanity.
- No direct restrictions may be placed on gene manipulation by any country or municipality except by the global regulatory body, which thus far has only applied the above two restrictions. Anyone, anywhere, may make any changes they please.
- The results of gene treatments are not instantaneous. Larger changes involving bones or muscle can take months. Softer tissues can change in days or weeks, depending on the alteration.
As discussions on this topic can get very complicated, very quickly, let's restrict this to a very specific set of circumstances. Any similarities to an actual real world situation are merely coincidental.
- The Privileged have blue-tinted skin with distinct facial features. The Unprivileged have green-tinted skin with different facial features. (I know that normal humans don't have green or blue skin but I wanted to make sure this was as non-specific as possible.)
- The Privileged have enjoyed centuries of economic and political power over the Unprivileged. The top 10% of Privileged control 60% of all wealth in this country. The top 10% of Unprivileged control a mere 5% of all wealth.
- The Privileged have no religious justification for their actions. They appeal to no higher authority than their own economic benefit and cultural inertia for oppressing the Unprivileged. They hate the Unprivileged just because they are different.
- The population is 35% Privileged, 50% Unprivileged, 15% Other.
- This country is in military and economic equilibrium with its neighbors.
- Both groups have shared a single country for three centuries.
- In the past, the Privileged frequently used mass police violence to suppress revolts or systematically harass the Unprivileged. Systematic genocide has never been attempted by either group though that hasn't prevented hundreds of thousands of Unprivileged deaths over the centuries. Incidence of mass police suppression have dropped off considerably in the last twenty years with the advent of the Internet, though individual intimidation continues on a daily basis.
- Economic opportunities are few for Unprivileged as wealth is concentrated with the Privileged.
- The courts and laws maintain a distinct bias against the Unprivileged because the legislature and the judges themselves are Privileged. Biases appear in the form of the costs of legal representation. The Unprivileged generally cannot afford the legal counsel that would otherwise have gotten them off completely or with a vastly reduced sentence. Petty crimes generally carry similar or harsher punishments than the more broadly damaging white collar crimes. There are no longer any laws that specifically target the Unprivileged by racial identifier.
- Immigration and emigration are fairly liberal. Anyone may receive and exercise a passport. An immigrant may be in one of two classes. A 'reduced privileges' class that precludes voting but permits holding official government issued identification. A 'resident alien' class may vote in elections and hold government ID but is subject to deportation at the discretion of the government at any time.
- Changes to an individual's legal name are unrestricted.
In these circumstances, how will the Privileged respond when the Unprivileged can avoid oppression by simply changing their looks and moving to a different city? Please address likely political, economic, or media manipulation they may use in regards to the new gene manipulation treatments.
I know that this is an incredibly complicated and sensitive subject. More than usual, if there are problems with this question or if I have been insensitive in someway, please let me know and I will correct it as soon as possible.