Of Poc! Characters

As a non-white person, it’s often tempting to reimagine racially ambiguous characters in literature as, well, not necessarily white/Caucasian. For some time, there’s been an idea on various platforms (specifically deviantart/tumblr/reddit) that Hermione Granger, all round badass witch from the Harry Potter series could be black/Indian/biracial, especially given that her skin tone and/or ethnicity has never been explicitly mentioned anywhere in the seven books. I’ve spent a considerable time trawling the interwebs for fanarts that feature a racebent Hermione, and while doing so, I came across this comment from a fellow desi who refutes the theory of Hermione Granger as a PoC (Person of Colour) on a very colonial ground:

“I’ve never bought the depictions of Hermione as non-white. To me, she’s the very embodiment of the white man’s burden. She takes it upon herself to free the house elves, but without asking them what they actually want. In fact, she bases her entire view of house elves on the knowledge that they work in the kitchens without pay or benefits, and on Dobby, who every single elf we meet in canon regards as odd or even heretical. She never bothers to talk to another house elf, but simply assumes that she knows what is best for them. House elves are not a stand-in for any real world oppressed group. We know nothing of how they or their society work, and when Hermione insists that they get sick leave, she does not even know whether house elves fall sick. They are magical creatures, and even though they are sentient, they cannot be regarded as automatically having human wants and needs. Every house elf (including Dobby) states that he or she lives to work, and this may be so. And this is not the only time Hermione is disrespectful of non-humans. When, IIRC, Parvati is gushing over Firenze, she dismissively says, “I’ve never liked horses much” (even if she’s just being catty). She invades the centaurs’ territory despite prior warning not to, to trick them into getting rid of Umbridge for her (though I don’t think she had many choices on how to do that). And while werewolves are non-human for only one day a lunar cycle, in PoA, when she’s telling Harry in the Shrieking Shack that Lupin and Sirius are working together, she tells him that he’s a werewolf in a manner that it seems more likely that he’d be working with a (at that time assumed) Death Eater. There is no evidence that she knows that it’s a full moon that night, meaning that she is denying Lupin’s personhood for no reason but fear. I really think these attitudes are very colonial in nature.”

– Satchit Bhogle




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