When the cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was announced late last year, many fans of the popular Harry Potter series were more than a little ecstatic to see Noma Dumezweni in the role of Hermione in the London stage play. At last, the fandom's decades-long push for a brown-skinned Hermione was no longer just a dream, but straight-up canon.
J.K. Rowling even preempted the backlash with a definitive tweet: "Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione."
However, that hasn't stopped critics from questioning the casting decision and clogging up Rowling's mentions with senseless vitriol. "With my experience of social media, I thought that idiots were going to idiot," Rowling told The Observer while promoting Cursed Child, which opens in previews this week. "What can you say? That's the way the world is. Noma was chosen because she was the best actress for the job."
It's unfortunate that blatant racism is "the way the world is," and it's even more disheartening that so-called fans couldn’t visualize a non-white hero of the story. But that's why Dumezweni's casting is all the more important.
"I had a bunch of racists telling me that because Hermione ‘turned white' -- that is, lost color from her face after a shock -- that she must be a white woman, which I have a great deal of difficulty with," she said. "But I decided not to get too agitated about it and simply state quite firmly that Hermione can be a black woman with my absolute blessing and enthusiasm."
Not to mention that, according to Rowling, the veteran stage actress "gets Hermione inside and out." Even Emma Watson, who portrayed Hermione in the Harry Potter film series, can't wait to officially pass the Hermione torch to Dumezweni.
So let's just put the ridiculous complaints about Hermione's skin color to rest, OK? It's not like you want to find yourself on the receiving end of Hermione's mean right hook.