Can Hermione Granger, from the Harry Potter series, be black? In the films, she’s played by a white girl, and people seem to just assume that she was meant to be white. In fact, that’s what happens whenever a character’s race isn’t specified; we tend to assume that they’re white. However, a play is coming out, called “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” It takes place after the end of the main Harry Potter series, and they’ve cast a black actress as Hermione. This, of course, has brought the racists out of the woodwork.
Some people on Twitter want to know why nobody can admit that a black Hermione is not keeping with the canon:
Those of us who at least try to fight against racism wouldn’t mind if Leia was cast as black in a stage play or a remake, or somewhere else where Carrie Fisher wouldn’t be the best fit.
Others just spouted general racist tropes about black women.
J.K. Rowling, however, shut the whole thing down with one single tweet:
The truth is that when skin color isn’t specified, we tend to fill in the blanks with that with which we’re most familiar. White people fill in the blanks with white people, and then get all angry when it turns out that, maybe, just maybe, that character was not meant to be white, or a different race is just fine because the original story didn’t specify the character’s race. They also get all righteously indignant when they assume the character is white and then the author says something different. How dare the author tell white people who a beloved character wasn’t necessarily white?
As one blogger very eloquently said on this issue:
A lot of people forget that Hermione is a character, not a color. By saying to someone ‘you are not adequate for this role because you are black’ is the same as saying ‘you are not adequate for society because you are black.’ It translates. Small-scale casualties turn into large-scale battles and this is where racism stems from.
Everyone wants to say black people are always overreacting and black people always make everything about race. If that’s the case, then why are people upset? If race isn’t the issue, then what is? [emphasis in the original quote]
A large part of Harry Potter is about racial supremacy – the “purebloods” versus the “mudbloods,” and the “purebloods” are better in some wizarding families’ eyes. Tom Riddle (a.k.a. Lord Voldemort) reveals that he thought of his father as a filthy muggle, and the entire Malfoy family is all about keeping blood lines pure. Hermione was born to muggle parents, and as such, endures a lot of the same kinds of taunts that black children can experience at the hands of cruel white children. What better way to characterize this than to cast a black actress as Hermione?
Really, the racists can give it a rest anytime. Hermione as a black woman is perfect for this play, and since the author of the original series agrees, then that’s just the way it is.
Featured image by Executive Office of the President. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons