Jesse Brauner

Symbol of the Equalists, a revolutionary group featured in the television series “The Legend of Korra”.

Running from 2012 to 2014, “The Legend of Korra” was the sequel to Nickelodeon’s award-winning series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” (2005-2008). Picking up 70 years after the end of the original series, the sequel follows the adventures of Avatar Korra, a brave and determined young woman who has taken on the role played by Avatar Aang in “The Last Airbender”. In the years between the two series’, the world of Avatar has gone through and continues to experience momentous change. Korra must learn how to fulfill her role as the Avatar while simultaneously battling political resistance, all-out war, violent separatist groups, and supernatural powers that the world has not faced for thousands of years.

One of these separatist groups was featured in the first season of the series. Known as the Equalists, they sought to “equalize” society by eliminating all benders (i.e. people who could psychokinetically manipulate the four elements of water, earth, fire, and air) from the world. The group functioned as equal parts political radicalism and cult mentality, and was made up of disaffected non-benders who had come to see the “bending elite” (as they called them) as oppressors who had restricted their rights and relegated them to being second-class citizens. With charismatic leaders at the helm and an army of well-trained fighters at their back, the group nearly succeeded in their goals, but were ultimately defeated by Avatar Korra.

Much of the aesthetics of “The Last Airbender” and “The Legend of Korra” were influenced by traditional cultures of East Asia, and this is particularly visible in the symbol of the Equalists: The color red as long been associated with revolutionary movements (both within Asia and elsewhere), as it invokes power and blood; the Chinese character in the center of the symbols can be translated alternately as “equal”, “level”, or “peace”, words in line with the mentality of the Equalists.

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