Lately there’s been this cry heard whenever someone makes a post or even writes a book based on fantasy and includes people of colour in the story. Not just as background characters, but as main characters. Here’s a recent example of a comment made about the founders of Hogwart’s, all racebent.
While I do love that whoever made this did a good job matching actors to characters, the one issue I have is that Hogwarts is in England and what founded several centuries ago. I’m not saying that there wouldn’t have been blacks or asians in England at the time, but it’s still a historical inaccuracy to depict them as anything other than white Englishmen, since the culture of England at the time wouldn’t have had room for blacks and asians as anything other than slaves or traders.
Please don’t take this as me being racist, this is just me with a debilitating and incurable need for historical accuracy.
The last paragraph of the comment is the telling one. Before claiming to want historical accuracy, the defensive is automatically put on for a wish to not be considered racist. The opposite in fact happens. Is it historical ignorance? Is it racism? It’s a lazy form of racism, yes. The reason I call it lazy is this. When presented with something that is different than what the person has been taught, instead of researching and discovering true history, they will automatically claim it is historically inaccurate.
Let’s really get a focus on this problem here. The Harry Potter series isn’t the first series to have this issue. And it’s also strange how in the movies themselves one character, Lavender Brown, went from being black to being white within a year once she was to become Ron’s girlfriend. In Thor, there was an outcry for having Idris Elba as Heimdahl. Yet, in the recently announced Exodus: Gods and Kings which is a retelling of the Biblical story of Moses, all of the principle actors playing the roles of Egyptians and the Middle Eastern Jews are being played by white people. I’d love those who claim for historical accuracy to try and defend why there seems to be only white people in a movie about a location that has historically been home to black and brown people.
Whenever a black or brown person is cast in a role for a fantasy film, there’s always a demand for historical accuracy. Whether the person riding this ignorance train realizes it or not, they’re basically making a claim of how racist they actually are. You’re not okay with a black or brown person in a fantasy film, but you’re completely fine with dwarves, wizards, dragons, magic, pixies and elves? Basically, creatures that don’t exist in reality. You’d rather see fictional beings that do not exist at all than see black or brown people, who do exist, and have existed for thousands of years.
There’s gonna be somebody who’s going to complain about this post, I just know it. Someone who’s going to say I need to prove that what I’m saying is accurate. Fine. Here’s a list.
- Black Moors in Scotland
- Moors in the Court of James IV, King of Scots
- St. Deiniol in Wales
- Ghanaians in London
- Art from the 1600s showing brown men in turbans
- Here’s an Indian man who in the 1700s ran a successful restaurant in England and taught white people to shampoo their hair
- Japanese emissaries came to Europe as early as 1584
- Mongolian Genghis Khan made it to about Poland-ish in the 1200s
And these are just a few examples. Do a proper search, you’ll find hundreds more (unless you’re search engine happens to link to Fox News, then good luck with that).
There’s also many more articles on this subject matter which say things and explain things far better than I can. Here they are!
- The problem with colourblindness
- Racism in fantasy
- United Colors of Albion: Race in Fantasy Media
- Can I Just Watch Game of Thrones In Peace? (Brown Feminist Fan Rant)
Bottom line is the world is made up of more non-white people than there is white people. Yet, media portrays both fantasy and sci fi as a hugely white area. That only white people lived in those times. And fans are duped into believing this by shouting “historical accuracy”. But your historical accuracy is completely wrong. People of different colours have been a part of Europe for over 2000 years (and maybe even longer). If there’s a chance white people can exist in Ancient Egypt, then you bet your ass that black people can exist in a Viking village. Take the “historical accuracy” argument and throw it away, because it’s easily disproved.
If, after that, you still rail against such things as a black or brown person in an English court, then I guess it’s time to realize that you don’t want historical accuracy, you’re just racist after all.