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Prejudice in harry potter terminus presentation

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  • From left: Angela Johnson, Lee Jordan, Kingsley Shacklebolt
  • An admirable intention, but does Rowling succeed?

Transcript

  • 1. Harry Potter And the Word That Shall Not Be Named
  • 2. The racial utopia?
    • No racial tension
    • The wizards and muggles seems to be judged “by the content of their character”
    • No one seems to even think of himself/herself as a racial being
    • For all practical purposes, “race” does not exist…
  • 3. The racial utopia?
    • …except it does!
    “ a tall Black wizard“ “ a tall black girl with long, braided hair” “ a Black boy even taller than Ron”
  • 4. Why are the racial identifiers necessary?
    • Only one reason:
    • To show that race has no meaning in this magical universe
    • An admirable intention, but does Rowling succeed?
  • 5. The case for racism in the HP Universe
    • 1. Only non-White characters are racially identified
      • “ As the unmarked category against which difference is constructed, whiteness never has to speak its name, never has to acknowledge its role as an organizing principle in social and cultural relations” (Lipsitz)
      • “ Naming “Whiteness” brings to mind various racial discrepancies that affect every aspect of our lives and brings awareness to racial privilege, a process that tends to make White people feel uncomfortable (Kivel)
  • 6. The “Race Game”
    • For one week (or one day) racially identify other White people when making reference to them.
    • “ This is my White friend, Ron Weasley…”
    • Thandeka. Learning to be White: Money, Race, and God in America . New York: Continuum Publishing Inc., 2000.
  • 7. The case for racism in the HP Universe
    • 2. “Color-blindness” is offensive
      • For many, racial status is associated with cultural experiences (e.g., music, religion, language, food).
      • For others, racial status is an important part of their identity. (Women: Picture yourself in a society that is blind to gender)
      • “ I don’t see color, I only see children.” What message does this statement send? That there is something wrong with black or brown, that it should not be noticed? I would like to suggest that if one does not see color, then one does not really see children. Children made “invisible” in this manner become hard-pressed to see themselves worthy of notice.” (Lisa Delpit)
  • 8. The case for racism in the HP Universe
    • 2. “Color-blindness” is offensive (continued)
      • But more than anything, color-blindness is often a way of maintaining the racial hierarchy by pretending and acting as though it didn’t exist (think the Ministry of Magic…)
        • But it doesn’t exist in the HP Universe?
          • How do we know that’s true?
          • Because the narrator (Rowling) tells us
          • But Rowling is White and is clearly invested in presenting a color-blind society. Is she a reliable source of this particular information?
        • Never mind…it exists in ours. By writing a book through a color-blind lens, Rowling unintentionally contributes to the myth that race doesn’t exist and doesn’t matter in people’s lives. I’m not trying to blame Rowling. Many share her neo-conservative racial ideology (next slide).
  • 9. Neo-conservative Racial ideology
      • Race is socially constructed
      • Racial inequality used to exist
      • Path to equality is a color-blind society in which everyone pursues the “American” dream by “lifting themselves up by the bootstraps” (i.e., a “just world” belief system – a world in which everyone gets what they deserve, based on their choices)
    Left Right Radical Liberal Neo-con. Fascist Conservative Multicultural Mainstream U.S. ideology Neo-lib.
  • 10.
    • Rowling intended to comment on race by focusing on blood status and elf rights.
    But Wait:
  • 11. Explicit racism…
    • “ Filth! Scum! By-products of dirt and vileness! Half-breeds, mutants, freaks, begone from this place! How dare you befoul the house of my fathers. . . . Yoooou!” she howled, her eyes popping at the sight of the man [Sirius]. “Blood traitor, abomination, shame of my flesh!”
    • The portrait of Sirius’s mother, In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 78).
  • 12. The Muggles are not immune
    • “ This one’s got a mean, runty look about him. You get that with dogs. I had Colonel Fubster drown one last year. Ratty little thing it was. Weak. Underbred.” ( Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 27)
    • (Vernon Dursley’s sister, Marge, in reference to Harry. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 27 ).
  • 13. Are Harry and Ron racist?
  • 14. No more (or less) so than the rest of us
    • They don’t self-identify as “racists” (unlike white supremacists and the Malfoys)
    • They don’t want to be “racists”
    • They don’t intentionally hurt, humiliate, or intimidate others based on racial status
    • They have egalitarian intentions
  • 15. No more (or less) so than the rest of us
    • But today’s racism is more subtle and there’s evidence that good people, even those with the best egalitarian intentions, can and do perpetuate acts of racism, sometimes without any awareness of having done so.
    “ Every man has reminiscences which he would not tell to everyone but only his friends. He has other matters in his mind which he would not reveal even to his friends, but only to himself, and that in secret. But there are other things which a man is afraid to tell even to himself, and every decent man has a number of such things stored away in his mind. The more decent he is, the greater the number of such things in his mind.” ~Fyodor Dostoyevsky ( Notes from the Underground)
  • 16. Race IAT (Implicit Association Test) Race Age Disability Sexual Orientation Weight Religion Gender Blood status (N/A)
  • 17. What would a blood-status IAT show?
    • Draco and many Slytherins would show an anti-halfblood bias (consistent with their explicit attitudes)
    • But what about Harry, Ron, and Hermione?
      • Research with the IAT reveals
        • The majority of Whites have an implicit racial bias
        • The implicit bias is present as early as age 6
      • Ron definitely (socialized into a society w/ open racism against halfbloods)
      • Harry and Hermione harder to predict (raised by Muggles and have Muggles in their ancestry)
        • Show no bias regarding potential friendships
        • But more likely to associate transgressors with purebloods
    • Everyone would have implicit anti-elf bias (even Hermione)
  • 18. S.P.E.W. ( Goblet of Fire )
    • “ You know House-elves get a very raw deal! It’s slavery, that’s what it is! . . . Why doesn’t anyone do something about it?”
    • “ Well, the elves are happy, aren’t they? You heard Winky back at the [Quidditch] match….’House elves is not supposed to have fun.’. . . That’s what she likes, being bossed around . . . ”
    Hermione: Ron:
  • 19. Jokes and their relation to the unconscious (Freud)
    • When Hermione accuses him of making up his Divination homework, Ron (who is guilty as charged) pretends to be outraged.
    • “How dare you!” he says. “We’ve been working like House-elves here.” ( Goblet of Fire 223).
  • 20. Last Words… This happens in our world too. Although many individuals do see human rights as important across a variety of different identity groups, it is also true that advocates for racial equality do not always act as allies for the LGBT and disability communities, and vice versa. The bottom line is that Harry and Ron mean well and clearly have the courage to act consistently in accordance with their convictions, but their views about certain types of oppression are nonetheless narrow-minded. Like most of us, young and old, they still have some learning and growing to do.