Racebent Hermione fanart is way ahead of you Hollywood
In the books, Hermione was described as having "bushy brown hair" and "brown eyes". While she's generally accepted to be white (her skin tone is never explicitly addressed in the books), some fans are reinterpreting the text to feature Hermione as a woman of color instead. While the books did feature characters of color, few of them were in prominent roles, and their contributions were minimized in the films. Racebent fanart creatively challenges this absence of representation, and looks really awesome to boot!
"Whether we like to admit it or not, the characters who inhabit our screen stories – who we fall in love with, laugh with, cry with, and grow older with - have an impact on our lives. They help to shape who we are, who we aspire to be, and how we view the world around us. That's why representation in mainstream media matters."
Hermione was a great role model in the books. She wasn't perfect of course- she wasn't the most emotionally perceptive person, and often had trouble explaining concepts to her fellow students. But she was determined, and level-headed, and incredibly brave. None of her faults overshadowed her accomplishments; if anything they made her more heroic because she overcame them. She's the kind of hero that young women deserve and unfortunately the kind of character they rarely receive.
"OKAY NO LET ME EXPLAIN YOU A THING.
My ENTIRE CHILDHOOD, this is what I imagined Hermione looked like. A curly haired girl of color who looked something like me, who had a hard time making friends like me because she was intelligent and sometimes she thought too much and didn’t have a problem losing herself in a book. I even ARGUED, tooth and nail with the other students in my class about my headcanon and questioned why she COULDN’T look like me, what was wrong with her looking like me, and why they felt she HAD to be white.
When I found out she wasn’t thanks to the movies, there was a kind of disconnect from her character, and the way I closed that disconnect was to ignore canon and keep picturing her as someone like me. I stopped talking about my headcanon to avoid arguments and name calling and teasing, but I never ever let go of the idea of a POC Hermione.
So to the artist, THANK YOU FOR DRAWING MY HERMIONE."
People need these characters.
They need to be able to see themselves in heroic roles, successful roles. They need to feel proud of who they are.
Britta Lundin at Worship the Brand observes:
"It's well documented that Hermione's skin is never explicitly defined in the Harry Potter books, but as a half Muggle, half wizard she's routinely slagged off as a "Mudblood." It's no wonder, then, that Hermione becomes the Harriet Tubman of the house-elf set by starting S.P.E.W. (Society for the Promotion of Elfish Warfare). While Emma Watson did a great job in the films, the idea of a biracial Hermione is pure magic."
The parallels between the social problems of the wizarding world and our own are impossible to ignore. Why shouldn't we make those parallels more explicit?
That's Nichelle Nichols as Lieutenant Uhura in Star Trek. She played the character from 1966-1991. What few people know is she actually intended to quit the show after the first season. Fortunately, she met Dr. Martin Luther King, and reversed her decision:
I was speechless. He complimented me on the manner in which I'd created the character. I thanked him, and I think I said something like, Dr. King, I wish I could be out there marching with you. He said, no, no, no. No, you don't understand. We don't need you on the - to march. You are marching. You are reflecting what we are fighting for. So, I said to him, thank you so much. And I'm going to miss my co-stars.
And his face got very, very serious. And he said, what are you talking about? And I said, well, I told Gene just yesterday that I'm going to leave the show after the first year because I've been offered - and he stopped me and said: You cannot do that. And I was stunned. He said, don't you understand what this man has achieved? For the first time, we are being seen the world over as we should be seen. He says, do you understand that this is the only show that my wife Coretta and I will allow our little children to stay up and watch. I was speechless.
And it mattered.
Astronaut Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to go into space with the U.S. space program, told a crowd of nearly 100 Friday evening that Star Trek inspired her. "As a little girl growing up on the south side of Chicago in the ‘60s I always knew I was going to be in space," she said from the podium in Richard White lecture Hall. Star Trek's Lt. Uhura, an African-American character from science fiction, encouraged her to literally reach for the stars.
As amazing as this fanart is, it's really not enough.
TV shows like 'Jane the Virgin' and 'Teen Wolf' are doing great work bringing more diversity to mainstream media. We can do more. Way more. I'm not saying that diverse media representation will lead to total racial justice now and forever- far from it. What I am saying is that writing diverse characters (not caricatures: fully realized individual characters) in prominent roles is part of the work we need to do. Fanart is a great place to start. It shouldn't be the end of the conversation.