There’s talk of a new Harry Potter property being made. From what I’ve gathered, the property will focus on the character of Newt Scamander and take place in New York during the 1920s. There’s been a big push by many fans to ensure that Newt Scamander is a person of colour, and it’s something I’m on board with. Here’s the reasons why.
Making Newt a person of colour would bring about better representation in movies for black people.
- Newt as a person of colour would create a different spin on not only the wizarding world, but the focus of a movie about Newt.
- Setting the book/movie in New York would place it in a good position to put the backstory in Harlem, which was home to the Harlem Renaissance, one of the largest black movements of the early 20th Century.
- Flappers! Everyone associates the roaring 20s with flappers, and contrary to popular belief, blacks in the United States had cornered the market on the flapper movement way before whites began finding it trendy (kinda like twerking today).
- In the Harry Potter books, there is no description of Newt Scamander made at all. We only know he wrote a book on beasts in the wizarding world.
- With the number of authors in the wizarding world, it makes sense that at least one would be a person of colour. After all, there were British poets during the 19th Century who were black.
Granted, there’s a lot of people who try to use cries of “historical accuracy” when a section of a fandom wishes to see someone of colour to take up a certain role in a certain time period. Usually these are the same people who have no clue what historical accuracy means. All the while ignoring the fact that dragons exist in the franchise. If you don’t get it, the equating argument is attempting to deny a very real, very vibrant and very alive portion of the population from having any representation in a movie/book, while at the same time being okay with dragons flying around. Or magic.
It’s been brought up that the black population in Britain during the 1920’s was very tiny. I’m going to quote something I wrote on Tumblr.
While Britain may have had a small black population, it wasn’t as tiny as one might think. During the First World War, there was a large influx of black people to Britain, most being munitions workers, seamen, and the like. At the end of the war, Britain became faced with a race problem, and in 1919 the Cardiff race riots broke out, as returning white soldiers believed that many of the black workers had “stolen” their jobs. The British government enacted the Aliens Order (1920) and the Special Restrictions (Coloured Alien Seamen) Order (1925) in order to restrict the number of black workers coming to Britain.
While this time period saw a serious unemployment problem in Britain, there were still black workers who managed to attain decent jobs, and jobs with the government.
Unlike the United States, Britain was incredibly progressive when it came to dealing with anti-slavery mentality during the 18th and 19th Centuries. Britain, and many of her colonies, abolished slavery by the early 19th Century, almost fifty years before the American Civil War, which saw the end of slavery for the United States.
After Canada became her own nation, Britain would often use Canadians for positions of governmental or diplomatic need. The same was said for Jamaica, and even Canada and Jamaica had a long history together. Canada herself had a large black population by the time she became a nation in 1867, with one of the largest populations being in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Halifax was also a key port during both the First and Second World War. Plus, Halifax is relatively close to the New England States.
So at this stage, not only does J. K. Rowling have an opportunity to further representation with this chapter of the series, but there’s also the opportunity to show the world an example of what can be done if a main character is made a person of colour. This is not only an opportunity, but it’s the right thing to do. Newt Scamander being a person of colour would not be a very far fetched idea at all.