Fantastic Beasts is Not So Fantastic with Diversity

Update 11/25/16: The original version of this post stated that Tina was simply white. I have since realized that Tina’s full name is Porpentina Goldstein, and that she and her sister Queenie are likely of Jewish descent (and thus both have only conditional whiteness). I have updated the post with this information in mind. 

The Harry Potter universe is a world that’s followed most of us since we were kids. While in many respects it’s aged along with us — we see Harry grow up and have kids, and the film Fantastic Beasts is certainly aimed at an older audience — in other aspects it has remained disappointingly behind the times. In particular, Fantastic Beasts is yet another example in the Potterverse of how marginalized folks, particularly queer people and/or people of color, continue to be exactly that: marginalized.

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“Eventually” Isn’t Enough: The Lack of Diversity in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

[Ed. note: Since EW.com just revealed an exclusive first look at next year’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, we’re reposting this piece that originally appeared on The Mary Sue in September.]

All Potterheads were excited when it was announced that a new movie was coming out (even if we were sad it wasn’t a Marauders prequel). And some fans were excited because with a new cast, it meant an opportunity for people of color to become main characters in a series whose fans span the globe.

J.K. Rowling herself spurred many of the theories that Fantastic Beasts could feature a more diverse cast than the Harry Potter franchise. (The film series as a whole only features 0.47% of lines spoken by people of color, according to the Every Single Word video series.) Over on Pottermore, she described Newt Scamander’s (author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them) grandson Rolf as “swarthy,” a word which means “dark-skinned.” Many fans figured this could mean that Newt himself could be black.

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An Open Letter to J.K. Rowling about the American Wizarding School in Fantastic Beasts

by Dr. Adrienne Keene | Originally posted at Native Appropriations

Dear J.K. Rowling,

I am unabashedly a huge Harry Potter fan. I first encountered Harry when I was in Junior High, volunteering at the public library (nerd status, I know). The children’s librarian handed me book one, and I was hooked. I even used to frequent Harry Potter message boards back in the day with my friend Kathleen (we were “Parvati” and “Lavender” cause we also shared an interest in divination, ha). Anyway, all this is to say, Harry holds a sacred spot in my heart. But I’m not one of those fans who can recite things verbatim, or remember every tiny detail, so if I’m missing something, I hope one of those fans will help me out.

I’ve been interestedly following the news that there is a new Harry Potter prequel-of-sorts in the works, for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, following “magizoologist” Newt Scamander. I hadn’t been following it closely, but a few days ago, I saw your exchanges on Twitter about the name/location of the American Wizarding School — and I started to get a bit concerned.

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