Okay everyone, grab your pencils grab your notebooks and take a seat. Cate Matthews (@cateematthews on both Twitter and Tumblr, follow her) is about to break it all down for you guys.
Her video very quickly and simply shows us the way we’ve all been taught to default the people that we envision in books and generally in our minds as “white”. Unless we’re heavily (HEAVILY!) spoon-fed other bits of information to say otherwise, which even then sometimes fails.
Cate also shares some interesting research that shows the staggeringly low representation of minorities in recently published children’s books and the top 10 box-office movies.
I virtually never write text posts (at least not ones of more than a few words) on Tumblr. But something I discovered recently stirred sufficient emotion within me to motivate a good old vent. I recently got into The Hunger Games (yeah I know, a little late, but I still read the book before watching the film!) and thoroughly enjoyed both the book and the film (currently near the end of the second book, eagerly anticipating the arrival through my letterbox of the third).
Unbeknownst to me, before the movie had even been released, a furore had occurred online over the supposed ‘mis-casting’ of some characters. Out of curiousity (and some confusion), I decided to do a little online research as to exactly what the controversy was about. I was taken aback by what I found. Most of the relevant information, lots of it from Twitter initially, has been compiled into one handy blog on Tumblr, called ‘Hunger Games Tweets’ which makes for very interesting (albeit disheartening and often enraging) reading.
After reading the entire blog and many articles that it linked to, I felt compelled to write to the blog owner in support. This is my message…
Black Nerd Comedy: RANTS! HUNGER GAMES RACIST? No Blacks Allowed!
Are you guys ready for a good laugh?
Everybody, please meet Andre (@BlackNerd on Twitter) the creator and host of “Black Nerd Comedy" on YouTube.
Fearing that The Hunger Games was yet another “Twilight” or “Harry Potter”, he chose to avoid reading the book or watching the movie. HOWEVER, upon doing some research, he came to learn of the DRAMA concerning our dear friend, Rue.
Maria Tatar writes an article for The New Yorker shedding some light on the tradition of why we see little blonde girls as the most innocent beings ever. As well as why we mourn their deaths moreso than others and why the alarms go off in our minds when they are kidnapped.
It’s only slightly Hunger Games related though (for those of you who go hard on Hunger Games but not so much on social commentary)
L.V. Anderson wrote an article for Slate discussing the response that she received from two of the individuals that were featured on this site.
Based on what I’m seeing in this article (along with some angry messages that I received), it’s probably an opportune time for me to clarify something.
Not ALL of the tweets that I featured on the page were things that I considered to be tainted with racism.
The first tweet mentioned in this article (someone that pictured Dakota Fanning as Rue) is one example. This was something that I would categorize under “Reading Comprehension Failure”.
The second girl, however, that said, “WHY IS RUE BLACK SIGH”… yeah, you’re not fooling anybody. A lot of the commenters on that article are using the fact that she’s from Singapore as an excuse for what might be poor english on her part. To me… a “Sigh” is pretty international in the context that she used it in.
Also, according to the article, Ms. Anderson has been trying to get in touch with me… I did not know this. I’ll see if I can get in touch with her.
So…this article just proved to me that I do it. We all do it. This article profiles someone of the pseudonym Adam, the person who created the Hunger Games Tweets Tumblr site. It talks about interviewing him in his office in Toronto. I imagined in the interview in my head. Adam was white. Until the author mentioned in the last paragraph that Adam is of Caribbean descent. Then he switched to black. I defaulted him as white, because I had no indicators to the contrary. It makes me so mad at myself and society that we do these things. I imagined Rue as black because it says she has dark skin in the books, but in this article, with skin color not described, I did not. GUH.
I find this pretty interesting…
Since I’m that “Adam” guy referred to in the article, I guess I never had to bother imagining what I look like. And I never bothered to assume that others would either. To hear that you imagined me white throughout the article (until learning at the very end that I’m actually black) is a bit fascinating.
It just proves that when people are described using non-racial identifiers, we’re really all the same. This is what happened to Rue. She was given very ‘mainstream’ qualities rather than biased ones based on stereotypes. Still doesn’t explain how so many people missed the actual racial identifier that she was given, but I’ve given up on that phenomenon now.
Now I can’t help but wonder if Anna Holmes wrote the article this way on purpose. LOL
The next question is… Did peoples’ opinion of Adam change afterwards?
emilydoeswhatshewants said: I have one thing to say, and one thing only. RUE IS A LITTLE GIRL. A. LITTLE. GIRL. A small child. The character that WAS CAST as Rue is also A LITTLE GIRL. And even MORE importantly, a human being. Forget race, forget society, all of that, for just a moment. Does a LITTLE GIRL -- Amandla Stenberg, human resident of the planet earth -- deserve such cruelty? NO. Take a look at yourselves, people. A good, hard, honest, look.
I’ve been replying to most of the messages in my inbox privately, but I felt that this message was important and needed to be shared.
Remember that word ‘innocent’? This is why Trayvon Martin is dead.
And there you have it folks
Black children don’t have innocence. We’re guilty from birth
I’m pretty sure from the description that Rue’s on screen portrayal was quite accurate.
But there’s institutionalized racism there for you folks. Dumb bitch.
The racism really spurs when this ignoramus says ” SOME BLACK GIRL”. Like “some piece of trash”. This girl can handstand on a landmine
i don’t understand what part of her saying she thought rue was blonde was racist
in the book, katniss says that when she looks at rue, she sees her sister
tbh the only reason why i thought of rue as being black is because i saw the trailer and saw they made her black
you really need to stop playing the race card because its old and annoying
My friend, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and trust that you’re not here merely to ‘troll’. The racism is in her implication that being blonde equates with innocence while being “some black girl” somehow removes that innocence.