What is so frustrating about J.K. Rowling’s transphobic tweet is that it comes at a time where we don’t need any more hate, yet Rowling’s tweet agreed in support of transphobia the way the high school students agree on a discussion forum: whole-heartedly and with little evidence for the argument. To make matters worse, when confronted about the tweet, Rowling refused to take back her words, and now another question arises: Do we cancel J.K. Rowling? I think the harder question is: Should we cancel Harry Potter?
Let’s first talk about J.K. Rowling. Under no circumstances do I believe that this woman was ever truly an advocate for people of color, people of LGBTQ+ identification or other minorities. She claims Hermione is based off of her, but then why isn’t J.K. Rowling fighting for ending intergenerational poverty or standing with women of color? When asked once what she thought when the “Cursed Child” featured a black woman playing Hermione, Rowling responded that Hermione was never specified as white, therefore, she could be black. But look at all the minor characters that are also the only people of color in her books: Cho Chang, Dean, Angela. If Rowling wanted Hermione to be black, she very well could have, but again, I don’t think Rowling ever understood the world her books were entering. I don’t think she ever really factored in the issues of racism, sexism, discrimination and social oppression into her books despite the reality that her readers were finding these issues brought up in Harry’s narratives.
PHOTO COURTESY OF FACEBOOK
Beyond all this, I simply don’t think Rowling ever has had the balls to make a good argument and stick by it, which is so frustrating to see her do it now in a form of hate and refusing to apologize for it. This coming from a woman who yearly apologizes for killing off a handful fictional characters, but is totally fine with oppressing real people. Therefore, I’m not just disappointed in Rowling’s inability as an author to use her craft to vocalize the issues affecting others around her, I’m also disappointed in Rowling’s inability to care about the feelings of others.
While I’m not a fan of Cancel Culture, does Rowling deserve to lose some followers on Twitter? Sure. But what about her books? What about the movies? What about the “Cursed Child” and Broadway? When R. Kelly was accused of sexual assault, for listeners to stop listening to and supporting his music was a simple choice. But what about “Harry Potter?” I think it’s arguably hard to un-read and to un-love a book. Besides this, as much I just recently argued that Rowling has been a shitty upstander, Harry and his friends haven’t. Is it possible that someone’s work can grow and mature in ways they cannot? Yes. I think “Harry Potter” and the world Rowling developed is infinitely more accepting and diverse than she will ever be. And I think because of this, we need to keep reading Harry Potter. We need to keep loving Dumbledore and loving Snape and loving 30 year old mid-life crisis Harry Potter in the “Cursed Child,” even if you are like me and don’t necessarily agree with that whole plot.
I think in order to show Rowling she is wrong, we need to continue to love characters and people who we might not see eye to eye with to prove that despite Rowling’s inability to empathize with others different than her, her readers can and continue to do so. Harry Potter makes the world a more diverse and understanding place-not because of Rowling, but because of readers like you and me.
Sydney is a junior English major.