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June 5th, 2016

Not sure if anyone is still reading this, but I thought I'd re-post something I just wrote in FictionAlley Park on the "Can't Stand Extra Non-Book Information From JKR" thread.

So according to JKR, anyone who points out that women as dark-skinned as Noma Dumezweni don't turn white with fear - and, therefore, Canon!Hermione does not look like Noma Dumezweni - is a racist.


'With my experience of social media, I thought that idiots were going to idiot.

'But what can you say? That's the way the world is. Noma was chosen because she was the best actress for the job.'

'I had a bunch of racists telling me that because Hermione 'turned white' – that is, lost colour from her face after a shock – that she must be a white woman, which I have a great deal of difficulty with.'

If JKR's logic was that Noma Dumezweni was the best actress for the job and, therefore, it didn't matter to her that ND doesn't look like Canon!Hermione, I would have been fine with that. It's the insistence that the books allow for Canon!Hermione to be interpreted as looking like Noma Dumezweni that bothers me, because it's simply not true. Canon!Hermione can be interpreted as European, or Mediterranean, or a lighter-skinned biracial person. She has brown, frizzy hair; she's light-skinned enough that her face can be described as white when the blood drains from it; she's light-skinned enough that she tans to "very brown" after coming back from holiday (PoA). Noma Dumezweni has black hair, could not be described as ever having a white face, and is always "very brown" because, hello, she's a black African woman.

Various media articles have pointed out the fanart that depicts Hermione as black, but they don't point out that the majority of them have Hermione as being a light-skinned black girl. There's a reason that fanart interpretations of Hermione as being black have had her as light-skinned, and it's because canon doesn't support the interpretation of her as dark-skinned. If it is a change for you to be "very brown" after getting tan, you are not a dark-skinned person.

Normally, a white woman insisting that dark-skinned black girls can have white faces from fear would be branded as the racist, as someone who thinks blackness is temporary or able to be changed. If Hermione had been depicted as dark-skinned in early HP books and then described as going white with fear in later ones, we'd have seen opinion articles with headlines like "J. K. Rowling Thinks Black Girls Can Turn White." But JKR's back at her old tricks of trying to claim there's diversity in her writing that she didn't actually bother to write, and anyone who doesn't see it is a bigot. Thanks a lot, JKR.

On a different note, I have to critique another piece of non-book information that no one seems to have mentioned here yet - JKR's historical rewrite of the reasons behind the Salem Witch Trials.

I should start by mentioning that the Salem Witch Trials have been kind of my thing since I was in third grade. I read all kinds of books about them and was even a "Salem witch" for Halloween. I've been to Salem twice (once for an HP convention in 2005) and I keep up with any new books on the subject that are published.

I don't have a problem with historical fiction, but I think historical fiction that claims that any of the accused really were witches is pretty disgusting. The whole point of the Salem Witch Trials is that a community got caught up in false accusations and people died, not that there was maybe some grain of truth to the accusations but don't worry, no one was actually evil or anything.

The Salem Witch Trials were horrible. They involved old ladies being hanged, an old man being suffocated to death, a four-year-old girl being imprisoned, and two babies dying in jail. They're not some cute little historical hijinks for JKR to rewrite for the sake of her fictional universe. Her Pottermore page on the Salem Witch Trials shows people being burned at the stake, because JKR's Didn't Do The Research is so strong that she isn't even aware that no one was burned at the stake at Salem.

Making some of the accused "Salem witches" real witches in the context of the HP universe is an insult, because it casts them as allowing the atrocities to continue without using their powers to stop them. Which "Salem witches" are supposed to be real witches in JKR's universe, I wonder? Sarah Good, who wouldn't use her magic to get her pregnant self and her little girl out of prison and was eventually hanged, all while insisting she wasn't a witch? Giles Corey, who refused to use magic to blast the stones off his chest? Rebecca Nurse, who spent her life masquerading as a good Puritan woman with the abhorrence of witchcraft that that title implies?

Maybe JKR should spend less time making ridiculous accusations of racism and more time contemplating why she thinks it's okay to hijack one of the greatest tragedies of the American colonial era.


Marauder The Slash Nymph, NEW MOM
All Marauder's Fics, Ever

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