“They were there, both of them, sitting outside Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlor — Ron looking incredibly freckly, Hermione very brown, both waving frantically at him.”
There’s an unspoken rule in literature: Characters are white unless explicitly described otherwise.
Take, for example, Hermione Granger from Harry Potter: Thanks to actress Emma Watson, we picture the character as fair-skinned with perfectly disheveled ringlets.
In a Buzzfeed article however, writer Alanna Bennett says that there’s only one line (in The Prisoner of Azkaban) that ever explicitly refers to Hermione’s skin color:
So is the fictional character actually white? Perhaps that’s a determination readers should make for themselves.
Enter “racebending” a movement in the online Harry Potter fandom that’s challenging not only the way people think about the highly popular book series, but the way people read books in general. Fans and artists take characters across film, television, and literature who have historically been portrayed as white and reimagine them as black or other non-white ethnicities.
FanArt has long been an important staple of fandom culture as a way for enthusiasts to celebrate the characters they love. With racebent fanart, Harry Potter fans on sites like Deviantart and Tumblr have produced hundreds of images that feature beloved characters from the series, particularly Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, as black, Latino, or mixed race.