On Percy Jackson and representation
I examine Rick Riordan’s “The Lightning Thief” for the very first time all through a fourth-quality field excursion to the Houston Museum of Natural Science at Sugar Land. My pals were shouting about the great cars we ended up passing and the 20-tale properties on both side of the avenue, but I paid awareness to none of it. I was far too engrossed with Percy Jackson, the series’s sassy protagonist, and the times that would adjust his everyday living without end. Sitting on that bus, laughing at Percy’s snarky commentary as he battled monsters straight out of Greek mythology, I could almost faux I was in his area — I was particular as well.
As I bought older and Riordan wrote far more tales about Percy and his adventures, I identified myself crafting my have tales starring Percy. In seventh quality, I wrote my individual variation of a chapter from Riordan’s “The Son of Neptune.” Instead of speaking Greek and Latin, I had Percy and his pals discuss Spanish. Whilst he was however from New York City, my edition of Percy was a Dominican American boy with brown pores and skin. I turned him into what I observed every single time I appeared in the mirror. But just about every time I went back again to Riordan’s guides, I was confronted with the truth that Percy was white. He wasn’t just like me.
If a white guy does not like the way he’s portrayed in William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies,” or J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye,” he can just go to the nearest Barnes & Noble and select up something far more fashionable, like a copy of Christina Lauren’s “Autoboyography.” As a individual of coloration, I never have that solution.
To this day, the only Dominican coming-of-age novel I’ve managed to discover is Junot Díaz’s “The Transient Wondrous Existence of Oscar Wao.” While this book aided me formulate thoughts about my identification, my culture and the way they notify my experiences, that does not suggest I’m not bitter about the truth that my white peers have hundreds, if not hundreds, extra depictions of by themselves in literature. That also does not indicate I’m not bitter about the fact that I have sat by means of unwatchable television like The CW’s “Riverdale” just to get a glimpse of a character of color who only has just one line.
This is not to say there isn’t development becoming built when it arrives to media featuring individuals of shade. Ncuti Gatwa and Yasmin Finney — a Black gentleman and lady, respectively — are set to engage in the Medical professional and Rose Tyler from the strike tv series “Doctor Who.” In a full-circle moment for me, Leah Jeffries and Aryan Simhadri — a Black girl and an Indian American boy, respectively — are established to play Annabeth Chase and Grover Underwood in the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series on Disney+.
When I read the news about the current casting of Annabeth and Grover, I was terrified Jeffries and Simhadri would be targeted by admirers trying to veil their racism with indignation that the race of the actors did not match their race in the e book. Positive more than enough, on May perhaps 10, Riordan produced a assertion disavowing enthusiasts who experienced been harassing Jeffries.
“You have determined that I couldn’t potentially indicate what I have usually stated,” Riordan reported in the assertion. “That the accurate nature of the character lies in their personality. You experience I should have been coerced, brainwashed, bribed, threatened, whichever, or I as a white male writer never ever would have preferred a Black actor for the section of this canonically white lady.”
The racism Jeffries has professional given that her casting as Annabeth is agent of the reality that white persons imagine only they have a proper to stories about appreciate, harrowing adventures and alternate proportions.
But why simply cannot individuals of color be cast in roles that are not primarily based on their id? Why can not persons of colour notify stories that are joyful? Why simply cannot people today of color be heroes?
My copy of “The Son of Neptune” sits in the center of the top row of my bookshelf. It used to symbolize my determination to become a author who could craft characters as inspiring as Percy, people that young children wouldn’t have to fake appeared like them. Now, it’s a image of that aspiration becoming fact. A image of a technology of youngsters who will get to see a Medical doctor, a Rose, a Grover and an Annabeth who glimpse like them.
Emilio Cabral is a Weinberg Sophomore. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, deliver a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all personnel users of The Every day Northwestern.
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