What if Harry Potter were a Person of Color, and/or Gay?

By Malena Amusa Jul 13, 2007

ABC Family behind-the-scenes video of "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." *** One my favorite mental exercises is wondering how things would be different if say Black people had enslaved whites or women dominated men. My friends often chide me because I’ve stretched this what-if-racial and gender paradigm to almost every facet of my personal life, arguing things like: my landlord wouldn’t be such a pain if I were a white man and not a Black woman. Because clearly he thinks I can’t fight back, you know, legally and strategically. So it didn’t surprise some of my friends when I called them up this week in a frenzy of conspiracy. The calls went like this: "Oh, did you know the new Harry Potter movie is out and people lined up across the country to see its release at midnight," I said. "I know!" "See, I’m convinced though, that this Harry Potter craze is just us pandering to white culture. I know the movies are good and the books are page turners, but come one, if Harry Potter were Black, we wouldn’t be having this conversation." "You’re probably right." I called three friends on Wednesday, the day the movie Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix opened in theaters. I talked with all women. Here are their responses. My good friend Dianna who doesn’t miss a Potter movie or book said: "I love Harry Potter. I’d even date him." And this is the woman who’s only dated men of color. My friend Sheeba, a sociologist, said: "I was never interested in Potter. I like to stick to the real world." Bukola, a marketing analyst and Anime fan, really got me thinking. She said: "But what if Harry Potter were gay too?" "Then movie wouldn’t be shown in theaters," I said. We laughed about this and talked about why there aren’t more fantasy writers of color. Because Potter, the genre, is fantasy. Although it conquers real emotional themes like love, curiosity, and revenge, it’s about a white boy who’s a wizard. And the series of books written by J.K. Rowling, a white woman, and their movies, have been translated into numerous languages. People all over the world champion Potter as a hero. Just watch the video. Potter is the Br’er Rabbit. So questions remain, are we ready for a colored, gay hero or heroine who has magical powers? Or does our cultural ability to imagine a fantastical world for people of color and for gays run short? Further, if Potter were a person of color and perhaps, gay, would millions of people around the world be watching him, and stowing away their fanaticism in Harry Potter clubs where they host Potter parties and pretend to be Potter and friends. See I’m not sure yet. But one thing is for certain, if I were a white man, I wouldn’t be sitting here on a Friday morning writing this. *** Here, comedian Dave Chappelle evokes this what-if exercise and explores what if Bush were Black. Chappelle concludes a Black Bush wouldn’t get away with the corruption Bush can because people would ask too many questions.