Yesterday I got a few messages in my inbox about J.K. Rowling's new series of short stories called The History of Magic in North America, which are being published on her website Pottermore as a promotion of the upcoming movie Magical Beasts and Where to Find Them. I haven't read the stories myself, but I've read quite a bit about them, particularly the first one, which talks about Native Americans and magic--warning bells, anyone?
Many people who have read the stories are dismayed by the seemingly cavalier cultural appropriation and relegation of current and vibrant cultures to a mystical, mythical past, including discussing "Native Americans" as one vague group, discussing skinwalkers (very private and often-misrepresented stories of the Dine), and other instances that reinforce stereotypes. There are some fascinating blog posts here and here, for starters. I recommend taking a look.
It is disappointing, and I hope that J.K. Rowling, who we have come to see as a champion for many good things, addresses the concerns head-on--so far no word. Meanwhile, on Twitter, the conversation rages (Debbie Reese has created links to many of them here). As Dr. Adrienne Keene says, "When you are invisible, every representation matters." Many die-hard Potter fans are accusing the critics of being unnecessarily sensitive and politically correct. It seems to me that as a white woman, I don't get to pick when a person of color notices racism, subtle or not. It's my job to respectfully listen and try to understand. What do you think?