Yes, It's Racist to Not Want "Hermione Granger" to be Black

Yes, It's Racist to Not Want "Hermione Granger" to be Black

Chris Peterson

The latest casting controversy that seems to be hitting the fan, is the news that the role of Hermione Granger will be played by a black actress in the upcoming play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. 

For some reason, this has ignited a near firestorm over the move. While the majority of fans are rejoicing with the announcement that Olivier Award Winner Noma Dumezweni will be playing the role, there are some that are posting their idiocy online. For instance this gem, 

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Now I could point out that this cover art is from a children's version of the novel that was released after the movies had come out, but I digress. 

L-R Paul Thornley (Ron Weasley), Noma Dumezweni (Hermione Granger) and Jamie Parker (Harry Potter) at the Palace Theatre.

L-R Paul Thornley (Ron Weasley), Noma Dumezweni (Hermione Granger) and Jamie Parker (Harry Potter) at the Palace Theatre.

Here's the point, for all of those reading this that might have an issue with this casting, it's a racist position to take. Mostly because Hermione's race is never explicitly stated in the novel. Even J.K Rowling tweeted, "Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione."

But what's even more tragically interesting is that some out there feel that race needs to be described and if it's not, it must mean the character is white. 

And while this vitriol is somewhat new for Harry Potter fans, it's nothing new for the theatre world. It seems anytime a revival of a production comes out with some difference in the color of its cast, all hell is unnecessarily raised. 

There were some who raised similar ridiculousness when it was announced that Norm Lewis would be the first black actor to play the role of Phantom in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, despite the fact that the character is never described as being a certain race. There were also some who wondered what the black population of France in the 19th Century was for the multi-cultural casting of the latest revival of Les Miserables to make sense. 

It's always laughable when I see people state they want to see more actors of color get opportunities to perform, but it better not be roles that are typically perceived as being white, despite never being written that way. 

That's not to say that changing a character's race is always a wise move. We all remember Kent State's The Mountaintop debacle, along with Clarion University's Jesus in India cancellation. In those situations the roles were specifically written for actors of color and were instead played by white actors. 

Thankfully the Broadway community seems to be moving in the right direction with casting actors of color. Four of the Six top selling shows right now feature largely multi-cultural casts(The Lion King, Aladdin, Hamilton and On Your Feet!) and with The Color Purple just opening and Shuffle Along and Miss Saigon on the way, there's no sign of this trend stopping anytime soon. 

So if you find yourself against the casting of Ms. Dumezweni, ask yourself why, do some research and use common sense. If you're simply a racist hater, don't, because you've never done that before. 

As a fan of the series myself, I'm more interested to see how  Noma Dumezweni portrays Ms. Granger 19 years after the events of Deathly Hallows, than the color of her skin. 

Thumbnail Photo: natello-universe.tumblr.com

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