“It matters immensely. The fact that Korra, a strong, independent woman of color is the lead character in an action cartoon series, especially of this quality and popularity, is a HUGE deal. To say that it doesn’t matter is called erasure — Korra’s race must be acknowledged if racism is going to change at all. The kids that watch this show are going to grow up realizing that dark-skinned people (and dark skinned girls) are people too, and they are strong, and they are good people. And that’s something that hasn’t happened a lot in the past… If at all. The vast majority of leads in action series’ like this one are white males. I understand the sentiment, truly, but it’s misguided. Being “colorblind” actually HURTS people of color even if it seems like a noble idea.”
Legend of Korra Confessions: in response to this submission: “I really don’t see why everyone is like “I’m so glad that there’s a black girl on Avatar now”. Korra’s not really black, she’s just either a tanned Asian or an Inuit. There’s a huge difference there. And besides, Katara was the same color, and no one described her as a “dark girl” or “girl of color”. Not that it really matters. Even if she were purple, it wouldn’t matter.” (via racebending)
I don’t see where in the quote it’s said that Korra is black? I thought “person of color” was an inclusive phrase for any non-white ethnicity. Blacks included, but also Asians, etc.
Personally I disagree with this, making a fuss about this is not the way to go forward, it will only get known then as that kids show with the coloured main character, rather than being a fantastic show. Kids watching this won’t see any difference if no difference is highlighted and will grow up thinking anyone can fit into these roles which is fantastic rather than believing that this is a special case. Though since I’m white I’ll be rubbished on this, so here’s Morgan Freeman saying essentially the same thing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GeixtYS-P3s
Okay, so first of all, a lot of people keep complaining that Korra is not black on submissions to blogs that critique whitewashed fan art—almost reflexively even if very few people are saying she is black given the series is based on Asian and Inuit culture. In the rush to declare that people shouldn’t call Korra black (who is doing this, again?) just remember that the woman who was the official model for Korra at ComicCon is of partial African American descent (she is multiethnic and also part Native American, and a dead ringer for what Katniss Everdeen could have looked like.)
It is also incredibly frustrating to see people saying factually untrue things like “I disagree with this, making a fuss about this is not the way to go forward…Kids watching this won’t see any difference if no difference is highlighted and will grow up thinking anyone can fit into these roles which is fantastic.”
While people are of course entitled to their opinions; they are just that—opinions, and factually wrong opinions as proven by a growing body of research across multiple fields (anthropology, developmental psychology, etc.) This belief— and Morgan Freeman’s video that people use as a stamp of approval, despite being steeped in class privilege and ignoring racial realities—is not equivalent or equally valid to the research studies that have proven otherwise.
Studies have found that even babies notice racial differences and that while babies are not born prejudiced, both white and black children already have prejudiced beliefs towards black people by age five. This is in part because children notice the lack of representation. They do not grow up automatically thinking anyone can be a hero when adults ignore race. They see that shows like Legend of Korra with a brown female protagonist are the exception and not the rule. We all can see that! Unless adults explain to kids why that lack of equality exists, children logically assume that it is because minorities are lessor. After all, that is certainly a more rational conclusion for kids to come to, especially since many forms of media present minorities as lessor (the most prominent superheroes and Disney princesses are all white.) It’s less of a leap for kids to make than the historical truth that for centuries this country (media included) treated people as less than human simply because of the content of melanin in their skin,
In 2007, researchers asked six year old children to speculate why all past American presidents were white men. They concluded that it must be because women must not be as smart and people of color were not as good leaders as white people. Even little girls and kids of color espoused these beliefs to the researchers. The children were not aware of the historical contexts of systemic sexism and racism. No one had ever explained to them that women or PoC were just as good and simply had more challenges to overcome due to a rigged system.
Another study found that when you tell kids stories with protagonists of color and white antagonists, children recall the story with the roles flipped. Children do see a difference. They are trained by media and greater society to automatically flip the difference in cases where the protagonist is a person of color. And I wouldn’t be surprised if this is also part of the reason why so many fan artists forget that Korra is brown. We are conditioned to be used to heroes who are white from a very young age. You can read more about research like this on our website, like our interview with a developmental psychologist.
Essentially, a growing body of research has proved exactly the opposite: unless discrepancies in representation are highlighted and more importantly, explained to children that they are the result of entrenched discrimination, children will assume that people are minorities because they are inherently inferior.
I just wish people would do research first before forming opinions that dismiss discriminative realities. Acknowledging this reality is not “making a fuss.”
EDIT: Also wanted to add that being white doesn’t make one rubbish at this stuff; some of the best researchers on how kids conceptualize race and discrimination are white.