Before you dive in and get offended, remember, it’s not my fault that you didn’t read better books. This might sound condescending but that’s only because it is.
Most of us with access to English education grew up on Harry Potter, so much so that it shaped our opinions, sometimes our professions. Not gonna lie, I have milked the series enough for at least a dozen articles here. LOL.
That said, we need to acknowledge that Harry Potter, the books and to an extent, the movies were racist in nature. You don’t have to have faith in my words. I am not trying to sell you on a religion. On the contrary, I am going to prove every last one of my accusations.
1. In Harry Potter & The Sorcerer’s Stone, the bad guy is wearing a turban and he has something to hide.
For those of you woefully unaware of this phenomena, this is how racism against brown people in the West usually works. The stereotype that if a man is wearing a turban, then he’s a bad guy with something to hide, presumably a bomb. This is what so many people of the Sikh faith face everyday of their lives living in the West.
2. The only Asian character is called Cho Chang. That’s a Chinese character with a Korean name!
FFS, are you kidding me? There are racist people in my neighbourhood that put more effort into concealing their bigotry. Cho was also Harry’s first love interest and had a major role in Goblet of Fire and The Order of Phoenix. So, it wasn’t like they were going to keep her hidden.
This is the same author who came up with Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape. Pretty sure, if there was Sikh man in there somewhere, she would have just named him Sardar Singh.
3. The house-elves are literal slaves.
Umm, excuse me Dumbledore, before you go off fighting Nazi wizards, could you do something about the literal slavery of sentient beings? I mean, Voldy had only been kicking around for a few years but the elves had been there for centuries, being beaten, tortured, and worked without mercy. They weren’t even allowed clothes!
What makes it worse is that the book makes Hermione look like a revolutionary for trying to organise student protests, almost as if Rowling was projecting the whole White saviour complex into her stories. And then there’s Ron and Harry who wanted Hermione to stop doing all that because they have bigger fish to fry. Oh sure, sure.
So, it’s a bit like letting millions of Indians die so that you can march off to Germany to fight the Nazis. Very Churchill of Ms Rowling there! But, of course, the British do love the bastard.
4. The only Indians in the books and the movies are made to practically be the same person, have a generic Indian name, Patil (maybe Rowling likes Priti Patel, but just got confused) and they dress the exact same way.
In case, you were wondering what’s wrong with that, it plays into “all brown people look alike.” Aww, you thought, you could only say to North-Easterners in India. You, my friend, reside on the top of the racist iceberg and lurk somewhere at the bottom of the bigotry food chain.
The characters are literally interchangeable, have no depth and are only there for the sake of it.
5. Rowling uses other cultural stereotypes as well.
Seamus Finnigan, the wee Irish fella, is good with blowing shit up. So, he’s basically a hooligan. That’s a cultural stereotype usually associated with the Irish to demonise them. In case, you are wondering, the Brits f**ked over their country as well. The Irish suffered under the British monarch and later, their imperialistic policies for a very long time.
6. For a series of books and films that seem to have been inspired by the fight against the Nazis, boy oh boy, they sure aren’t afraid to be anti-Semitic in their description of Goblins.
The goblins are shown with pointy noses and are called a greedy, calculated and cold-hearted species that takes care of the banks and loves their money. Yeah, that’s also how Hitler’s propaganda against the Jewish people sounded like.
watching the harry potter films for the first time to get to the one alfonso cuaron directed which I've been told is actually good, and still amazed that JK rowling used the most blatant anti-semitic caricatures for the banker goblins and no one was like "what the fuck?" pic.twitter.com/IKGOfKhpFW— ☀️👀 (@zei_squirrel) September 7, 2021
This was just the original books and movies, BTW. There’s still a lot to unpack in the new movies, plays, whatever else Rowling writes on a thousands of Potter websites among other things.
To promote (YES, to promote) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Rowling published a 4-part series – The History of Magic In North America, following which she was accused to cultural appropriation for the way she describes skinwalkers.
You can’t just claim and take a living tradition of a marginalized people. That’s straight up colonialism/appropriation @jk_rowling.— Adrienne Keene (@NativeApprops) March 8, 2016
We’re saying there is a problem with non-natives who take without permission, without understanding and without respect for native people.— Johnnie Jae aka The Brown Ball of Fury (@johnniejae) March 9, 2016
In the same movie series, Voldemort’s snake, Nagini is shown as an Asian woman in servitude, furthering the racist prejudices faced by them.
Also, never forget the endless queerbaiting and the surprise falana was a dhimkana after the tickets and the books are sold out, just to gain some liberal brownie points but never actually allowing anything truly progressive to happen in the actual stories.
Rowling goes on and on about how passionate Dumbledore and Grindelwald’s relationship was but in the 7 books, and 9 Harry Potter movies and 2 Fantastic Beasts movie, it is nowhere to be seen/ In the cursed child book, while it is strongly implied that Albus and Scorpius are gay, the characters aren’t even afforded a proper hug!
Oh, and she also late hinted that Hermione might be Black. But it’s well documented that she was heavily involved with the making of the films. So what stopped her from asking for a Black actress?
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
Look, you still want to love Harry Potter, do that. I am sure, the actors are fantastic people and I assume that’s who you associate with the series. And like many other things we read or watched as kids, which had some very serious issues, it’s just hard to let go. We associate a lot of memories with these. But come on, read new books, make new memories, better ones.
I mean, honestly, how much do the Twilight books even cost?
No, but seriously, do read more books. You’re a grown up now.