We Need An All-Black 'Harry Potter' Remake The Same Way We've Always Needed A Black Hermione
When it was announced that black actress Noma Dumezweni would play Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child , I was pretty psyched. Finally, I thought to myself. Finally in 2015 we're starting to get a little more flexible with our ideas of characters' race, and not just assuming white as the default for everything. But the more I think about it, the more I think it's time to go even further — I think we need an all-black remake of Harry Potter. And the good folks over on Twitter agree with me, as the hashtag #BlackHarryPotter became home to a wealth of ideas for the entire cast, including Morgan Freeman as Dumbledore, Jaden and Willow Smith as Ron and Ginny Weasley, and Kerry Washington and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Lily and James Potter. I am on board. In fact, I think we all need to get on board.
Unfortunately, I can't imagine everyone else is. I've tried to stop even looking at the Internet after a person of color is cast in a "traditionally" white role, but I did catch a glimpse of some of the reactions to a black Hermione Granger, and, boy, were they disappointing. Even though Hermione's skin color isn't even specified in the books, and J.K. Rowling is firmly on board, some people just can't accept that a character might not be exactly as they pictured her in their heads.
But you know what? I'm done catering to those people, and tiptoeing around those feelings. It's a natural thing to read a book and imagine the characters looking like you, but, unless you're white, that really doesn't play through too often in the movie version of the book. Even when we get a Quvenzhané Wallis reboot of Annie, or the Broadway musical Hamilton, extending roles to actors of color that were initially written for white people, we also get many roles of characters of color — not a huge number to begin with — that were ultimately given to white actors, such as Rooney Mara as Tiger Lily, Jake Gyllenhaal in The Prince of Persia, Ben Affleck in Argo, and the entire cast of Noah.
We have a pretty good ways to swing in the opposite direction before it even gets close to being balanced out. A Harry Potter is remake going to happen eventually, so why not take a cue from the casting of a black Hermione for the stage show to make it a priority to cast the remake with more people of color than were explicitly stated in the novels? If critics find themselves refusing to believe that an all-black cast would be plausible, let's not forget that we're discussing a story about wizards. Do you really mean to tell me that you can suspend your disbelief about hippogriffs and a Sorting Hat and Polyjuice Potion, but you can't imagine a predominately black Wizarding School? That just shows a disappointing lack of imagination.
More and different versions of Harry Potter can only be a good thing for fans of all ages, no matter your gender, race, religion, age, or magical abilities, and, no matter your gender, race, religion, age, or magical abilities, everyone should be able to watch the films and see characters in main roles that look like them. Inclusivity and belonging are what Hogwarts is all about.
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