A woman can preach, a woman can work, a woman can fight. A woman can build, can rule, can conquer, can destroy, just as much as a man can.
I hadn’t seen a graphic with this quote for THG yet, so I made one. Clockwise L to R: Annie Cresta, Johanna Mason, Prim and Mrs. Everdeen, Madge Undersee, Wiress, Cashmere, Katniss Everdeen. In the small graphic in the middle are Foxface, Rue, Portia, and more Katnisses, Annies, and Johannas.
003. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
Mehdi Nebbo , Benjamin Bratt, Zahn McClarnon, Lou Diamond Phillips, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Hrithik Roshan, Nikhil Upreti, Eduardo Verastegui
Anas El Baz, Rudy Youngblood, Alex Meraz, Boo Boo Stewart, Suraj Sharma, Avan Jogia, Vinay Shrestha, Ricardo Abarca
Before I launch on my tirade, I’ll define what shadeism is for people who aren’t familiar with it. Shadeism is discrimination based on the shade of one’s skin color within a singular race. Shadeism is almost always a result of racism perpetrated by whites. In Western cultures, people of color are told that their skin tone is undesirable, ugly, and not beautiful; that it is indeed outside of the norm. Because of globalization and the aftermath of colonialism, shadeism pervades almost all PoC societies. People of color are most often perpetrators of shadeism against people of their own race. Yes, even with our own people, PoC can’t catch a fucking break.
In this particular case, Lionsgate’s shadeism—which is only a footnote to their larger racism—exhibits itself in the preference of light-skinned African Americans to those who are darker skinned. The casting call for what is most likely Rue’s family members is as follows
African American children 12 and younger. Light medium skin tone very thin. [x]
Now, let’s examine how Rue is described in the books.
She [Rue] has dark brown skin and eyes, but other than that, she’s very like Prim in size and demeanor.
Does Amandla Stenberg correspond to Rue as she is described in the text?
The answer is no. Amandla’s skin tone is olive; as a matter of fact, it is more similar to the color that people in District 12 should have exhibited. She is more like Seeder, a woman from District 11 who is likewise described as having olive skin. Ergo, do people of Amandla’s appearance and skin color exist in District 11? Yes. But does she look like Rue? No. The text itself refutes any possibility of Rue’s skin being like Amandla’s. By casting a light-skinned African American child as Rue when the text explicitly describes Rue as dark-skinned, Lionsgate is sending out the message that African American children with darker skin tones are undesirable and have no place in their films.
To rectify their shadeism, Lionsgate could have provided opportunities for darker skinned African Americans in their cast. Instead, the casting call for Rue’s family members excludes dark-skinned blacks altogether. While the need for consistency is understandable, it is not necessary and only further shows Lionsgate’s ignorance in racial matters. Families of PoC can have variance in their skin tones even whilst being related to one another. At the very least, dark-skinned African Americans should have had a chance to audition as one of Rue’s family members. Such is not the case. They are excluded from auditioning by dint of their skin shade.
“I loved The Hunger Games when I devoured the trilogy in a week (the first book, in a day). As a woman of color (brown, not olive skinned) who grew up in a third world country, the idea of being a revolutionary hero in the world of YA seemed to speak to my childish self. When I found out it was going to be made into a movie, I was so excited to see who would be cast to play my black-haired, olive-skinned heroine. This week, Jezebel reported that Jennifer Lawrence may be cast in the lead: she is most decidedly not the black-haired, olive-skinned woman of color I imagined kicking butt as the Girl on Fire. Jezebel bases its argument that casting should include non-Caucasians on explicit descriptions of characters in the book, and not on the omissions or the overall metaphor that I found to be the most compelling argument for why Katniss is not white. In short, the entire metaphor that runs through the book about oppression, hunger, and excess is meaningless if none of the main characters are people of color.”
(click to read the rest)
I really, really, don’t understand when people say this. People can look like a mixture of their parents, they can look not very much like their parents at all, or they can look like one parent or the other. Genetics, especially with respect to race, are incredibly complicated. There are stories of two white parents having a black child, and two black parents having a white child. These are pretty rare, but it’s not that out of the question or extraordinary that an interracial relationship could produce two children who are of different races. I have a friend who is Latina and has a child who is extremely fair-skinned and is blonde-haired and blue-eyed.
It’s most definitely possible that two sisters with the same parents could appear to be of different racial backgrounds. Prim being blond-haired and blue-eyed is not at all an indicator that Katniss is white.
I thought of something. Even in the off-chance Katniss is not a woman of color by modern standards, she has been brought up in a society that treats her differently for her skin color - a society where she’s confined to a poorer class because of her skin color. So, say (hypothetically) Katniss is Italian-looking. She is not treated as a member of the privileged white class (the blonde haired, fair-skinned, blue-eyed members of the District). This means the definition of whiteness would have shifted, defining Italian-looking people as no longer white.
I think it’s important that Katniss be portrayed by a woman of color by today’s societal standards because a woman of color would have experienced the oppression that comes from institutional racism, which Panem still exhibits. It also would have been a good opportunity in an industry that rarely casts POC for major roles, especially in films where race is not the main focus.
Katniss is not white, no matter what the exact tone her skin color is. Because whiteness is an experience more than an exact color.