J.K. Rowling has responded to those who are mad about the casting of a black Hermione, and what she said might completely change the way Harry Potter readers imagine Hermione in their heads. Right now, it’s hard for Harry Potter fans not to picture a young Emma Watson with fizzy hair whenever they think of Hermione, but maybe a new generation of readers will grow up imagining a black girl with an untamed fro as the intelligent witch.
According to Hitfix, British actress Noma Dumezweni has been cast as an adult Hermione in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a play that will premiere in London on June 7.
— JustJared.com (@JustJared) December 21, 2015
Noma Dumezweni is a talented thespian who won an Olivier Award for her role in A Raisin in the Sun, but some Harry Potter fans aren’t willing to give her a chance for a very sad reason – they don’t like the idea of a black Hermione. The news that a black actress has been cast as Hermione has been a hot topic on Twitter for hours now, and most of the negative tweets about Noma Dumezweni’s race are being drowned out by positive reactions to the actress’ casting. However, there are still more than a few ugly words being written about the new Hermione.
Black hermione??? UM NO THANKS — ️ (@GoddessRyn) December 21, 2015
HERMIONE IS NOT BLACK. JESUS IS NOT BLACK. SPIDER-MAN IS NOT BLACK. I’M SICK OF THIS… — The Web’s Sam Grady (@TheSamGrady) December 21, 2015
Hermione is white. I will not stand by whilst the PC police and cultural Marxists try to erase white female heroes. — The Web’s Sam Grady (@TheSamGrady) December 21, 2015
So if this Broadway play doesn’t work, are we going to reboot the entire Harry Potter series with blacks and Mexicans? — Santa’sBigNightmare (@DaveKaosMonkey) December 21, 2015
Figures, everybody who disagrees with my opinion about recasting Hermione as a black woman… is a liberal feminist black woman. #retards — Santa’sBigNightmare (@DaveKaosMonkey) December 21, 2015
We all grew up with Emma Watson as Hermione. If you expect us to be totally comfortable w/ someone else playing her, you’re not a potterhead — Melanie Maslow (@MelmelMaslow16) December 21, 2015
Here’s the funny thing about that Cho tweet: According to Cracked, some Harry Potter fans actually complained because an Asian actress, Scottish/Chinese star Katie Leung, was cast as Cho Chang. These fans were upset because they thought that Harry’s first love interest should have been white.
Some of the distressed Potterheads who have a problem with “black Hermione” started pestering author J.K. Rowling about the casting on Twitter, and Rowling’s response riled them up even more. As you can see, she suggested that book Hermione might also be black.
Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione https://t.co/5fKX4InjTH
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) December 21, 2015
However, some fans had a hard time processing J.K. Rowling’s tweet. Instead of accepting this possibility that Hermione is black and moving on with their lives, they decided to look for “evidence” that book Hermione is white. Some skeptics even tried to argue that black people can’t have the last name Granger.
@galnerdic Granger is an old English name, it’s almost inconceivable that a black woman with two black parents would have that name.
— Gary D (@GazDemorare) December 21, 2015
Don’t give a dam about Hermione ethnicity. BUT for all those saying her ethnicity was never mentioned in the books.. pic.twitter.com/2nPWwCweWZ
— Danny Allen (@DannyAllenUK) December 21, 2015
The haters were quickly shut down by black Hermione supporters.
Imagine being that person trying to find ‘proof’ that Hermione is white. Imagine having that much rage and time on your hands.
— Anna Rafferty (@raffers) December 21, 2015
Two stars from the Harry Potter movies have also weighed in on the casting controversy. Matthew Lewis, who played Neville Longbottom, said that he doesn’t have a problem with black Hermione.
And Neville Longbottom was blonde. I really don’t care. Good luck to her. https://t.co/0JNjK3Pe0V
— Matthew Lewis (@Mattdavelewis) December 21, 2015
Luna Lovegood actress Evanna Lynch weighed in by pointing out that there’s just no pleasing some Potterheads – fans complained about her hair when she was cast as Luna. She also said that looks aren’t what matter when it comes to casting fictional characters.
Tbh new Hermione is black, Harry looks like Ron, when I was cast ppl complained about my HAIR & it is people’s❤️ NOT their looks that matter
— Evanna Lynch (@Evy_Lynch) December 21, 2015
According to the Huffington Post, some Potterheads were imagining Hermione with black skin long before Noma Dumezweni was cast as the character. It’s been pointed out that J.K. Rowling described Hermione as having “very brown” skin in The Prisoner of Azkaban, and writer Zeba Blay points out that it’s easy to picture the “bushy” hair that J.K. Rowling describes as a “kinky-curly” hairstyle. Those who have always imagined a black Hermione didn’t get that character in the Harry Potter movies, but a large amount of very impressive black Hermione fan art can be found on the web.
As the Washington Post points out, J.K. Rowling’s books are an “extended metaphor about racism and prejudice.” Lord Voldemort and his followers are obsessed with wiping out those who aren’t “pureblood” wizards, and “mudblood” is a slur used to demean and belittle those who weren’t born into all-wizard families. Hermione was the only member of the books’ trio of heroes that wasn’t a pureblood wizard.
Also… Hermione gets called a mudblood a bunch which is super racist. It’s an easy parallel to make. She also works to free the house elves
— Michael Stephens (@MLHS_Mike) December 21, 2015
Even though J.K. Rowling was obviously trying to show her readers that racism is evil, Refinery 29 points out that the Harry Potter movies really only embraced one race. Out of the entire series of films, people of color are only shown speaking for a total of five minutes and 40 seconds. Writer Dylan Marron compiled these scenes together to create the YouTube video below. Black female actresses appear in just 20 seconds of the footage.
In Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Noma Dumezweni will be joined by Jamie Parker as an adult Harry Potter and Paul Thornley as an adult Ron Weasley. According to the BBC News, the play will be set 19 years after J.K. Rowling’s books. Harry is now busy dealing with a stressful job at the Ministry of Magic, but it sounds like he needs to find some free time to help his youngest son Albus. A synopsis for the play says that Albus is struggling “with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted.”
Fans of the wizarding world can only hope that Hermione, Harry, and Ron will decide to get the old crew back together to help Albus solve his Potter problem.
[Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images]