Sunday, August 22, 2010

fear of a black hermione

My good friend Kyle is starting a literary/arts initiative intended to try to be a voice for millennials, in the wake of all the negative press surrounding our generation. I wrote something about another kind of media misrepresentation:



When I was younger, around the birth of Pottermania, I wanted to be Ron Weasley's girlfriend more than many other things in the world. Like many of my peers were doing with their favorite Backstreet Boy (indeed, Brian Littrell was my other gingery love), I was daydreaming about sharing butterbeer in a crowded Three Broomsticks, cuddling by the fire in the Gryffindor common room--any number of cheesy romantic situations. This kept my overactive tween imagination busy for quite a few of the books in the series, until I discovered real (albeit non-magical) boys and was much happier.

So, as a Hispanic woman and a de facto mixed-race individual, I'm pretty invested in the idea of Hermione Granger, the former know-it-all-turned-ass-kicking heroine of the series--and, much to my 12-year-old elation, the love of Ron Weasley's life--being mixed-race. On a more general level, the potential for awesome social commentary (like, what better way to further JK Rowling's anti-racism message by making the Muggle-born girl racially mixed? The symbolism!) is rife with a nonwhite Hermione; on an extremely personal level, I can't think of a single character in mainstream media with whom I could identify on both an intellectual and emotional level (for I, too, was an obnoxious know-it-all for most of my adolescence) and on a purely physical level. I was always the only bookish brown girl in my class; coming from a mostly-white suburb in a mostly-white region of the United States, it wasn't surprising, but it did make those pubescent years quite confusing. Like, why weren't there any smart brown girls on TV? (Though when Angela came around to play the love of Shawn Hunter's life on Boy Meets World, my heart had a little dance party inside my chest. Ditto with Zoe Saldaña's character in Star Trek, itself a reboot of an older, also awesome female character.) Is it okay that I'm interested in reading rather than…whatever it is that brown adolescents are supposed to be doing? (No one ever really talked about it on TV.) Reading books left me much less confused than visual media, because I could easily imagine myself in the shoes of any of the characters, Hermione or otherwise...

Check the rest out on the Millennials Mag website!