In the aftermath of the backlash over a black Hermione, I thought back to my childhood and the moment I first read the book and realized that, to me, Hermione was brown. I was but exactly the age when you would expect your letter to Hogwarts when I got my initiation. My uncle brought me my first book as a gift from the US. Living in this small sleepy town called Bhubaneswar, the bibliophile in me who had not yet heard of the series called Harry Potter, hungrily devoured the first book, and as anyone with a good imagination would, I saw the whole tale unfolding in my (as Trelawney would say) “mind’s eye”.
I saw Hermione as a bushy haired extremely intelligent girl who was a know-it-all, Ron as a guy with reddish-brown hair and Harry, he was someone plain and brave who did not know how to talk about his feelings. And so, I was Harry, my best friend Swagatika, who had bushy, brown-ish hair was Hermione and my friend, Aishwarya, who had Henna imbibed short red-dish hair and was tall and lanky for her age, was Ron. A slightly shorter and thinner girl called Shantashree was Ginny and another very beautiful girl was Cho-Chang.
When you are 11 years old of my generation and have been brought up in a family whose only motto was “Simple living and High thinking” and did not watch TV, did not really know much about the world, because you live in a small town where most hifi progress comes much later, you do not learn to differentiate between white, black, brown, yellow or any other skin color. And having remained blissfully unaware of the movies, your imagination is truly your own and so all the characters were subconsciously brown (cz that is what I was used to, being Indian). I was a very very Brown Harry, she was a slightly lighter brown Hermione and “She” was a very very light brown-yellowish Ron and we happily play-acted many of the scenes in the book and made up more of our own.
So, I was left pretty confused about the backlash of having a black Hermione in the new play. What about so many of the readers who saw a white Hermione in the first movie, like me, and had no problem reconciling it with their pre-conceived notion of a natively-colored Hermione? I certainly did not have any problems except maybe being a bit weirded out by the portrayal of only one Brown girl “Parvati Patil” in a dowdy lehenga, a girl who was supposed to be the most beautiful girl of their class. Parvati in real life is stunning to look at!
But colors, spolours, white, shite, black, shlack, this and that, we live in a world full of diversity and variety, After all it is the sole objective of evolution! Isn’t it time we got used to that instead of throwing petty tantrums?