Alright gang. It’s time to play dumb for a few moments while we work through this. Because I’m sure many of us have seen the post from JK Rowling herself saying that Hermione Granger was supposed to be black. There she was written into the stories with wild, curly hair. We’re not going to talk about how describing black people’s hair as wild is a problem in itself, but even still, How did we end up with Emma Watson? The whitest of the white.
Harry Potter Hits the Stage
I think it's important to start closer to the present, from the end of the series, rather than from the beginning. When we got our black Hermione Granger karma people went wild. People all over the Internet were saying that Hermione Granger is supposed to be white. But even in the movies, she's not quite the person she is in the books. Sure, she's still smart, but there are things that happen in the movies that don't line up the way they were originally written by J.K. Rowling. Some people complained. Some people did not. People are allowed to like different things. The same as a character is allowed to change as long as that change stays true to who she is.
Being white has nothing to do with Hermione Granger's personality.
There is nothing of cultural significance attached to whiteness that was present in any of the Harry Potter books or films. Yet, when the news dropped that the Harry Potter stage production would have a black actress playing Hermione Granger, people revolted. Why? What was so important about her white skin that having a darker skinned person playing that role would've changed who she was? Have not many roles set in Africa not been played by white people which completely changes the context and cultural significance of those stories, as there is a deep and complex history attached to Africa that does not translate when brought to the screen by a white face.
But... she's supposed to have wIlD cUrLy hAiR
They say it isn't racism, but what other reason could there possibly be for having such a strong reaction to having a black girl play such a popular character where even the author of the 7 book series said herself that Hermione was originally supposed to be a black girl? I never expected this obsession with white washing to contaminate one of my favorite book series. Also in these arguments people say there is not a "need" to make Hermione black, as if there always has to be some sort of purpose for having a person of color onscreen, i.e. whenever a movie or TV series is about terrorism, Middle Eastern characters miraculously appear, and as if black people are being enforced upon them. Is there no place for black people in a world that is actually filled with color?
What about those random colored people in the movies!
You mean, that one Asian girl that Harry sort of has a crush on, the Patel twins that have no importance in the story, or Dean Thomas and other minor roles that include characters easily forgotten, rarely seen, or background characters? If you don't see the issue with any of that, then the issue is obviously you. The whitewashing of characters is a pervasive problem that denies people of color the opportunity to see positive examples of themselves on TV and in movies that white people have have received since movies came into existence.
Do we not deserve intelligent, over-achieving, black witches or stories about Middle Eastern people about something fantastical where they are not forced into roles as terrorists? I think all people of color deserve that.