Harry Potter and the Cursed Child releases soon and the world is once again engulfed in Harry Potter Mania. People are starting to freak out, my bookstore is preparing for a Midnight Release, we have a cute display up and fans are getting that magical feeling again. This is the excitement that J.K. Rowling so brilliantly created for us; we’re anxious to return to the world of Harry Potter and see where she takes us next.
Except…I can’t get over how J.K. Rowling continues to ignore Native voices.
These voices are speaking up about her cultural appropriation in Magic in North America. I wrote a bit about it here, around the time the first chapter was released on Pottermore, and though it’s been months, Rowling has been silent. No engagement and no dialogue. Her only response so far to this problematic piece of writing has been to block a Native person on Twitter.
There’s a very bitter taste in my mouth. I’ve been trying to re-read the series in anticipation of the new book and I just…can’t right now.
One great thing about the internet and social media is that it’s a powerful platform; Native authors and academics are discussing J.K. Rowling’s work and major news outlets have amplified their voices. This is a big deal.
I’ve also been thinking about the lines between respect, fandom and criticism of authors/illustrators. Sam Bloom wrote a really good piece about Lane Smith’s book A Tribe of Kids, “playing indian” and critically examining an author’s work. Authors make mistakes and they can also learn from them. Especially in children’s literature, it’s important to listen to criticism because THIS IS ABOUT THE KIDS. When you’re writing about/alluding to cultures that aren’t your own, you have the responsibility to be respectful.
With great power comes great responsibility, J.K. Right?