Noma Dumezweni has recently been cast as Hermione in the stage production of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. The surprising thing is that she’s not white; she’s a black actress. In this day and age it’s a wonder in itself that some people and fans of the series are still shocked to see protagonists and characters with major plot-lines played by non-white individuals. My response to this takes into account the deep-rooted problem of racial representation in popular fiction, and I want to ask one question: our world is undoubtedly diverse, so why is it a crime for fiction to reflect diversity?
I’m not a Harry Potter fanatic, and I’ve only watched a few of the movies. I never considered the fact that all the main characters are presented as white in the movies; I accepted it.However, on twitter Rowling stated that Hermione’s race was never specified in the novels, and yet there is a sense of dissatisfaction with presenting Hermione as black. Does the race of Hermione truly matter? I don’t think it does, because the essence of her character- adamant, clever, bookish, outspoken and strong- still remains. Hermione doesn’t have to be black, nor am i suggesting that she is. The problem is that white is the default category and this should not be the case.
Sometimes, authors choose to leave the race of some characters unspecified, which allows readers to use their imagination. Hermione is therefore shaped by our imaginations,which means that she can be any race. Therefore, If some readers and audiences want to imagine Hermione as white, that is fine. If others want to perceive her as black, that is fine.
Here’s a link to the article that inspired me to write this!