I spent most of the past 36 hours researching and thinking about Harry Potter fandom and the barely still-around documentation of the racism that fandom enacted about characters of color – especially Blaise Zabini. They’ll be turned into organized thoughts eventually, but for now… thread collection:
Harry Potter fandom really has been openly racist for ages because they sure did ship Blaise with Draco and/or Hermione right up until the reveal he was Black and then, after the in-fandom rioting, he got the treatment that most Black characters get and his fanworks/ships went 📉
And the movie came out and he was a fine ass, unfriendly Black hottie and there was no measurable leap in the fanworks – at this point I was on Tumblr and I remember people complaining about that and "well it's about preference" poozers showed up 🙄
It is such a good example of antiblack racism in fandom. Until Blaise was revealed as both Black and a boy (some fans thought Blaise was a girl) he was shippable and they made backstories and fics for him. Once Black, he became unworthy of their interest and of their shipping.
Remember that person Bee shared a screenshot of who said that Black characters simply weren't written in romantic situations in media and that's why people don't ship them? Blaise was never in any and didn't even have lines til 05. That only became a problem once he became Black.
Also like up until like 2011 – as in maybe it's different now but I doubt it – people would be like "how can he be Black and Italian" say that Roeling was pandering or that she was incorrect and as always, these weren't dudebros. These were women and queer people, shippers.
"[fans refusing to change their views on Blaise and even stopping creating or consuming fic] was generally attributed to racism in fandom, though many fans insisted that it was just difficult for them to let go of a fanon characterization they had spend years cultivating."
This is from fanlore and like… First of all, racists won't ever say "yeah no we're racist and think Black people aren't interesting or attractive" especially in fandom. Second of all, people were also openly and shamelessly racist over this lol
If people stop consuming or creating fic for a character once they're Black or will only create content where said character isn't Black… They're fucking racist. That's not a difficult conclusion to come to BEFORE you realize how toxic and hostile the fandom was for YEARS here.
What must that have told those Black fans in 2005 and 2009 (when they could no longer deny it, homie was on film with an extended part)… People building and leaping through racist rhetorical hoops to get out of caring over Blaise… Specifically because he was Black now ☹️
Also I'll be folding the Blaise thoughts into this piece… And putting it up on Patreon early (so probably tonight…idk)
Part of my late night hp tweeting is because like… I just keep remembering how people like to gaslight fans of color (to the point where some of them turn and defend racism and gaslight other fans of color) and act like we're making shit up or it's new?
This shit with Blaise is older than MEEMS. Like the reveal that he was male sank some ships and then the reveal that he was Black destroyed his fanon… And people were super racist about it. That was from half my life ago. And fandom has only gotten more racist!!
(Meems is my baby teenage niece, not the concept of memes, misspelled… Just wanted to clarify. It's been bugging me lol)
"Is it whitewashing to depict Blaise Zabini as white?"
This is a question asked in 2017, 12 years AFTER the text reveal that Blaise was Black and 8 years AFTER he was on-screen and… still Black.
(I don't think it was asked out of malice but it's just so frustrating that fandom is a place where people… conveniently never know what racism looks like except to say the thing isn't racist or to call other POC racist – which isn't happening here, this is a widespread whine.)
Babes, beloveds… that last paragraph about Blaise, written in 2005, is one of the most racist things I've ever read… but the entire segment is racist as fuck. "Most probably a Mulatto" oh my god was this 2005 or 1905 what the fuck
But okay also, Blaise could have two Black pureblood wizard parents lol like Black Italians exist like y'all this… I'm screaming. Like literally screaming with laughter at this because I think the author would probably claim they're progressive and liberal…
Another thing I remembered because I was into Skins… in 2009-11 people on Tumblr would be like "Oh well sure Blaise can be [not white but still Italian], but I was thinking something like Luke Pasqualino, not… a black guy" and Luke is fine as fuck but even then… YIKES
ALSO Luke doesn't identify as "non white" AFAIK like… he's Sicilian and shit's complicated and his identity pings heavy as Not White especially to racists… but going "ah I see Blaise is being played by a Black actor but this non-Black Sicilian would've been better!" is YIKES
This person (from 2007) thinks that Blaise's identity as a Black Italian was actually because Rolling got annoyed that fans were headcanoning Blaise as white italian babe, member of the silver trio and so, sort of… punished them by making him Black… and uh… Yikes.
(Start with "Now, I think" for the segment I'm talking about/screencap above.
I would freaking LOVE to figure out where FPB's original Blaise piece is or what the anon said in f_w to get her deemed racist in 1 of the most racist spaces in fandom)
an update, FPB is NOT a "she" – I made the mistake of going to the fandom default, my big bad – and I can't find the f_w stuff OR the Blaise piece still, but I found that he did write… A HISTORY OF BRITAIN 407-597
also he hates RPF!
FOUND IT (but fpb's original post, while replicated in part? in the f_w post below… is not accessible) and tbh i think fpb may have deserved the smoke he got because uh… he said a lot of racist shit actually???
"There are many ways in which an African could have an Italian name; just none that is natural, and none that does not, by demanding an explanation, draw attention to its own unlikelihood."
AHAHAHAHA I'm actually cackling at this what the fuck
A lot of the old comments focus on the Black % in the UK and I think of the Windrush generation – of which my paternal fam in the UK traces back to – and of the fact that fans imagined a world with wizards and dragons, but but only 5 Black people?
This is part of my Blaise Blogging… but even progressive people pushing back against or noting the racism of the HP fandom between 2005 and 2010 specifically excuse fans because… Rolling was just being "accurate" to where she knew/what the UK looked like… but that is a lie.
Fandom can imagine a world beside ours that's full of dragons, wizards, and werewolves… But asking them consider that there could also be POC in the Wizarding World apparently broke their imagination for at least five years? Actually upsetting, wow!
Today has been a really good example of "racism in fandom isn't always triggering"
I'm not triggered by what I've seen today. The racism is shocking – that woman in 2005 straight up used a SLUR about Blaise and fpb dude was similarly racist PERIOD – but it's… not triggering?
Not to me at least?
It's not like seeing people post lynching photos, self-harm images and graphic gore, or unalive monkeys on social media platforms – here and weverse – to punish Black people for speaking out on antiblackness from an idol or their fandom, that's for sure.
And this is also why, I say again, that the conversations about racism in fandom and on the AO3 – content and fan behavior, there – that bring up tagging aren't paying attention to what the reality of racism in fandom largely looks like because how would tags help there?
That piece where the person called Blaise a MULATTO… what would it have been tagged for? It's on a fan fiction website. It would've already been tagged. Franzeska's racist ass meta sure is tagged with a bunch of stuff, I feel? How would that have stopped her racism??
"death threats are new to fandom and a thing only antis do"
here's LJ user sabriel in 2005 telling a hysterical racist crying over Blaise Zabini being Black to "[unalive] now".
Similarly, if you thought racism in fandom was ALSO new to fandom… here's this anon saying "Some white people just aren't attracted to black people. It doesn't make them racist, it doesn't make them stupid, or bigoted. It just means that they aren't fucking attracted to them."
At this point, Blaise-in-canon was literally JUST a same aged, named Slytherin so while I'd like to know what she thought he looked like, what she loved about him and what she… knew about him… Also… she's actually the one who those previous screenshots were about…
Big yikes and, I will in fact warn for racism (because the n-word and I mean really disgusting racism) are all over the comments here… and for death threats and people wishing violence including sexual assault on the OP