Whitewashing is racist.
Yes it really is. All whitewashing is racist and it’s extremely harmful.
I’ve noticed a lot of PoC people seem to have this reservation about calling whitewashing racist. In my opinion, I feel like the real reason this is is because they don’t know the real definition of racism. AND BEFORE YOU GO GOOGLE IT and give me the dictionary.com or the Merriam-Webster definition, DON’T.
What is racism?
I’d like to point you to the real definition (1, 2). The dictionary definition is not accurate since it wasn’t written by people who actually face racism, those people would be People of Color (everyone that’s non-white). In a short sentence, white people do not face racism, PoC do.
I also have this feeling that people do not really grasp full what whitewashing really is.
So what is whitewashing?
Whitewashing is the practice in which a person (director, producer, a fan, etc.) takes a character who is originally of color in canon work, and replaces them with a white actor or a white FC claim (role-playing games.)
It is also used to describe the entertainment industry’s attempt to make a PoC character look more “white” in order to appeal to the white masses.
Are you understanding this sparky?
People have said whitewashing isn’t racist because people do it subconsciously.
WRONG! It’s still racist! But whitewashing does happen subconsciously. Though this reason can only apply to books, not tv shows or movies. Yes people, white and PoC have whitewashed subconsciously, I have even done it. Why is this so? The media and in society in general, constantly projects that white is the norm and everything that is not white is…well…abnormal. Because of this, People of Color (unless miraculously they grew up in a home where diversity was projected) at a young age have learned this, have absorbed this.
So when continuously being told or shown that white is normal, people have tendencies to read characters as white. An example of this would be what some people did to Blaise Zabini, a character from Harry Potter. He was given no real description until book 6 and was described as “Blaise was a tall black boy with high cheekbones and long, slanting eyes.” So up until book 6, some people saw him as white male or even a white female. After book six when he was given a description, people continued to write him as a white male or white female in their fanfiction stories, draw him white in fanart, and use white actor/actresses for FC claims for him. This still continues today.
Basically at a point subconsciously whitewashing isn’t a good excuse, especially when people call the person out about it. When a person does whitewash subconsciously, when they read a character as white, and a person calls them out about their whitewashing, the simple thing for the whitewasher to do would be to fix the fanart, FC (face claim), etc. Personally they become racist to me, when they refused to fix their mistake and instead spend the entire time making excuses for themselves. And then end up not fixing their mistake.
Also just because someone says they did it “subconsciously” doesn’t mean it’s always true. People also have reading comprehension problems, just look at the Hunger Games fandom.
Which brings us to the people who just do it on purpose. Yes, those people are out there. These are the people who refuse to believe a character is of color. Yes! Out right refuse. They are also the people who defend whitewashing and chuck it off as “It’s just a FC claim” “It’s my own artistic interpretation!!1” “I just always saw her/him as white” “I just felt like they were white”. Hey, guess what!? Your FC claim is racist. Your artistic interpretation is racist. Your reading is awful. And your feelings suck.
Not only is racist, it’s also disrespectful to the novelist, comic writer, comic artist, etc, that you so claim to admire, who made that character a Person of Color. Let’s time I checked, it’s their work and I’m pretty sure they knew what they were doing when they made that character, of color.
Back to this again. It is not just the individual it’s also the community the individual is apart of. Again, society projects this “White is Right” and “The whiter the better” which leads to PoC to have internalized racism. ((TW: On the Links) Examples of self-hate: Skin Bleaching [1, 2, 3], Asian Blepharoplasty ) Sometimes the individual doesn’t do any of these things, sometimes they just harbor hate for themselves.
PoC fight self-hatred every day, it’s a constant battle. For People of Color to stand up against racism is a great feat. None of the people who advocate against whitewashing is immune to falling back into internalized racism. None of us are immune to making mistakes either. And PoC who have not gotten to this place are not to be chastised or looked down upon (Something I need to remind myself constantly) because getting to that place is extremely difficult. Especially when you have so many obstacles stacked up against you.
So what the hell was this random, long, rambling post about. Simple. Whitewashing is racist and it’s harmful.
Because when a person whitewashes, when they take a character of color and make them white, what their saying is is Brown or Black skin is ugly.
Are you responsible for equal media representation? Is it your duty to defend anti-whitewashing?
YES! Everybody is responsible for ending whitewashing. Actors/Actresses, directors, writers, producers, the person who work with the lights, and YOU! The consumer! Stop going to see these whitewashed movies. Spend your money somewhere else. The only reason these filmmakers continue to watch these movies is because you go out and spend your movie to go see them. Support films with a diverse cast. Support novels and graphic novels with diverse characters. If you’re a upcoming filmmaker, writer (novelist, screenwriter), comic artist, etc. feature some People of Color in your work.
Avoid stereotypes! People of color are not caricatures. We are people. Learn, Learn, Learn, Learn. And then do some more learning. I think I can speak for all of us when I see we are tired of seeing this.
We want to see more of this
(If I missed something or you didn’t understand, ask. I forgot half of the stuff I was going to say. lol).