Racism, Antisemitism, and Pro-Slavery in the Harry Potter Universe

Throwback to October 2022

close up shot of chess pieces

You’ll probably know what I’m talking about from the title – straight off the bat!

In 2017, JK Rowling decided to write an article about Hermoine Granger and her activism to end Elf Slavery. The article is a solid reminder that JK wrote the subplot on neutral ground… Which I think we can all agree is a bad stance to take for slavery.

But don’t worry. It does get worse. Besides the fact that JK decided to write the plot with the idea that people can interpret it in their own way – in the article, she tries to justify slavery.

In the context of the book, she says Winky (an Elf) is likely to be depressed due to separation anxiety…

Hermione cites the shame imposed on Winky by her culture as the sole reason for her unhappiness, but there may be more to it. Separation anxiety might also account for Winky’s anguish and she doesn’t seem to improve much over time.
Is it right, exposing elves to such a fate? From here, it seems downright irresponsible. Even if the long-term good outweighs the bad, the state of poor Winky ought to be a bigger cause for alarm. By witnessing this first-hand yet refusing to rethink her agenda, Hermione appears to care more for moral crusading than the people she is supposed to be helping.

JK Rowling – Pottermore – “To S.P.E.W. or not to S.P.E.W.: Hermione Granger and the pitfalls of activism”

Justifying slavery because a previous slave no longer knows what to do with themself now that they’re free.

“Slavery, bad?” – JK Rowling

I’ve linked the full article above. It was written and published in 2017; it came back to light in January this year and has since been deleted from Pottermore. But, once on the internet – always on the internet, even when it’s JK Rowling.

My take:

It’s sad that the Harry Potter universe has another piece of bigotry within it. Common examples:

  • Seamus Finnigan: the only Irish character… That is prone to accidentally blowing things up in the films…
  • Kingsley: has the surname of SHACKLEBOLT…
  • Cho Chang: the only East Asian character who is coincidentally an intelligent Ravenclaw.
  • The Goblins: having every Jewish stereotype, that Nazis created, in their character design.
  • Remus Lupin: comparing Lycanthropy to AIDS, queer-coding him, then lumping him with another notably queer-coded character (Tonks).
  • Rita Skeeter: described as having “mannish” features, fake femininity, and changes her form to spy on children… Showing us that the TERF Queen has always been a TERF.
  • Padma and Parvati are named after the same person and had to wear cheap renditions of traditional Indian dresses…
  • Dean Thomas, a prominent black character in the series, had his father “walk out on him”…

How people still support this person, I’m not sure.

She couldn’t’ve just let people enjoy things, could she?



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