Ron is racist - and that’s great
Ron Weasley’s character is consciously written as somewhat racist. Not as racist as Malfoy, of course - he doesn’t scoff at mudbloods and halfbloods, and he doesn’t see himself as superior at all. Still, he unquestionably accepts the inferior position of house elves (they love serving), when he finds out that Lupin’s werewolf his reaction is not only scared but also disgusted (Don’t touch me!) and he is clearly very uncomfortable finding out that Hagrid is half-giant (giants are wild and savage).
And this is brilliant. Because it demonstrates that racism isn’t only present in clearly malicious and evil people, in the Malfoys and Blacks - it’s also there in warm, kind, funny people who just happened to learn some pretty toxic things growing up in a pretty toxic society. And they can unlearn them too, with some time and effort. Ron eventually accepts Hagrid’s parentage, lets Lupin bandage his leg and in the final battle, he worries about the safety of the house elves.
Some people are prejudiced because they are evil, and some people are prejudiced because they don’t know better yet. And those people can learn better, and become better people. And that’s an important lesson. The lesson taught about discrimination shouldn’t be “only evil people do it”, because then all readers will assume it doesn’t apply to them. Instead old JK teaches us “you too are probably doing it, and you should do stop ASAP”.
And that’s why the role has been taken away from actors of colour and given to a white man. Racebending.com has always pointed out that villains are generally played by people with darker skin, and that’s true … unless the villain is one with intelligence, depth, complexity. One who garners sympathy from the audience, or if not sympathy, then — as from Kirk — grudging admiration. What this new Trek movie tells us, what JJ Abrams is telling us, is that no brown-skinned man can accomplish all that. That only by having Khan played by a white actor can the audience engage with and feel for him, believe that he’s smart and capable and a match for our Enterprise crew. —
Marissa Sammy on Star Trek: Into Whiteness.
perfect commentary which parallels what Rawles was saying earlier about the possibility of Moriarty being a person of color:
- “…The actual issue is that black people aren’t often allowed to play full and complete characters, and an antagonist who isn’t unintelligent, thuggish cannon fodder is just as much of a rarity for black men as the stubbly hero who saves the world or wtfever. “
- “…The stereotype in no way intersects with brilliant geniuses who choose to step outside of the boundaries of society in order to exercise their intellect while having no concern for lesser beings.
Or to break it down further: the problematic stereotype regarding black people is that of being, in essence, subhuman. Characters of the Moriarty (and Holmes) archetype are rooted in being superhuman.”
You see? It’s more complicated than “people of color get typecast as villains.”
Black people get typecast as an extremely specific type of villain - they’re thugs, brutish and animalistic. South Asian actors are similarly typecast as scary oppressive (usually coded Muslim) terrorists.
But when your villain is of the superhuman archetype? When they’re brooding antiheroes, when they’re nuanced, when they’re multi-faceted?
(And check out this post on the glorification of white criminality in shows like Dexter, Breaking Bad, Weeds, Boardwalk Empire, The Sopranos, etc.)
Stephen Jay Gould (via 5footabstract)