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As you may know, there is some controversy about the casting of a Black actor to play the part of Hermione, which has led, among other things, to questions such as "Was JK Rowling involved with Noma Dumezweni's casting as Hermione Granger in Cursed Child?" and "What is Hermione Granger's ethnicity?"

Given that supposedly Rowling never definitively stated Hermione was Caucasian in the books, I'm wondering for which characters she did explicitly state a skin tone or race. If I recall correctly, Dean Thomas was originally described as a "black boy", but I'm having trouble thinking if there were any others. Were any characters definitively stated to be Caucasian? Was Cho Chang even explicitly stated to be Asian (her last name being an indicator, of course, but not definitive proof)?

Please note I am referring to the books only. The fact that Shefali Chowdhury and Afshan Azad were cast as the Patil sisters in the films does not indicate anything about the characters' origins in the books, for example.

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    This seems quite broad. Are you asking about every character in all of the books as well as all of the notes on Pottermore and every interview given by JKR? – Valorum Jun 20 '16 at 20:34
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    @valorum I'm asking about the characters for whom race was stated. I expect that to be a tiny subset of all the characters that exist. For myself, the only one I can think of is Dean Thomas. And no, I don't much care about interviews or Pottermore - I'm asking about the books. – Paul L Jun 20 '16 at 20:37
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    All the Weasleys had ginger hair; a bit hard to match that with any ethnicity other than white. – Daniel Roseman Jun 20 '16 at 21:27
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    @DanielRoseman Not when you consider hair dye. Rowling has taken an incredibly liberal interpretation of things in defense of the possibility that Hermione can be black (basically, she can't be. That's how liberal Rowling's stance is to allow her to be) in the books. Taking that into consideration, it's fairly easy to say that the Weasleys all dyed their hair from birth, or there was an ancient curse on their family, or something like that. OP's question I think can only be safely answered with people where Rowling explicitly said "they are black/white/Latino/etc." – TylerH Jun 21 '16 at 0:43
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    @DJClayworth given that I specifically said "race" and not "species", no that is very obviously not what I was looking for when I asked this question a year ago. – Paul L Jun 21 '17 at 18:41
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This list is just off the top of my head and is not exhaustive by any means:

  • Dean Thomas (black)

    "Thomas, Dean," a Black boy even taller than Ron, joined Harry at the Gryffindor table.
    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

  • Angelina Johnson (black)

    They all swiveled around in their seats and saw Angelina Johnson coming into the Hall, grinning in an embarrassed sort of way. A tall black girl who played Chaser on the Gryffindor Quidditch team, Angelina came over to them ...
    Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

  • Kingsley Shacklebolt (black)

    “And this is Kingsley Shacklebolt” — he indicated the tall black wizard, who bowed ...
    Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

  • Blaise Zabini (black)

    He recognized a Slytherin from their year, a tall black boy with high cheekbones and long, slanting eyes...
    ...“Blaise Zabini is in your year, of course —”...
    Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

I think we can safely assume that Cho Chang was of East Asian descent, even if she was British by birth, from her name. Children of East Asian parentage have distinct East Asian characteristic physical features. The same goes for the Patil twins, whom we can assume are Indian by their name, and hence will at least have the characteristic Indian skin tone.


I have added Blaise Zabini as pointed out by @chirlu in the comments below. I have also removed Draco Malfoy from here (thanks @sumelic).

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    Dean Thomas' race isn't mentioned in the UK version of HP:PS - mtv.com/news/2197577/harry-potter-british-phrases – Valorum Jun 21 '16 at 14:08
  • @Valorum THANK YOU. I was getting so confused about never having seen that before! – DavidS Jun 21 '16 at 14:51
  • Would you add Blaise Zabini? See scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/132439/… – chirlu Apr 13 '17 at 10:10
  • @chirlu I'm not sure which comment you're referencing. None of the comments to the question mention anything about Blaise Zabini. – ʀᴇᴅ_ᴅᴇᴠɪʟ226 Jun 17 '17 at 20:10
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    The comment apparently got deleted. The relevant quotation (from Half-Blood Prince, chapter The Slug Club) is: He recognized a Slytherin from their year, a tall black boy with high cheekbones and long, slanting eyes; (…) ‘Blaise Zabini is in your year, of course –’ – chirlu Jun 17 '17 at 21:31
3

There are many characters throughout the series that are described as "white". Sometimes it is more explicitly and clearly referring to their natural skin color, while other times it is describing an emotion (e.g. anger or fear). Even in the latter cases, though, I think the terminology is probably still indicative of their actual skin color (i.e. I don't think you would describe someone who is black as being "white-faced" when angry).

Listed roughly in order of appearance (but also grouped by character):

  • Mr. Ollivander

    Mr. Ollivander touched the lightning scar on Harry's forehead with a long, white finger.

  • Neville

    Harry saw his scared white face look down at the ground falling away, saw him gasp, slip sideways off the broom and —

    Harry, Ron, and Hermione stood up up to yell and cheer as Neville, white with shock, disappeared under a pile of people hugging him.

    She was looking, not at the spider, but at Neville, and Harry, following her gaze, saw that Neville's hands were clenched upon the desk in front of him, his knuckles white, his eyes wide and horrified.

    "It was someone being tortured!" said Neville, who had gone white and spilled sausage rolls all over the floor.

  • Madam Hooch

    Madam Hooch was bending over Neville, her face as white as his.

  • McGonagall

    Professor McGonagall was looking at at Ron and Harry. Harry had never seen her look so angry. Her lips were white.

    "The Heir of Slytherin," said Professor McGonagall, who was very white, "left another message.

    Professor McGonagall broke off, and they saw that her nostrils had gone white.

    Professor McGonagall pulled herself back through the portrait hole to face the stunned crowd. She was white as chalk.

  • Harry Potter

    Harry had gone very white. As soon as he found his voice he said, "Blown up? You told me they died in a car crash!"

    There he was, reflected in it, white and scared-looking, and there, reflected behind him, were at least ten others.

    "I've just thought of something," said Harry. He had turned white.

    Harry sat there, white-faced and furious, staring at Uncle Vernon, hardly able to believe it.

    He was very white, and his scar seemed to be showing up more clearly than usual.

    Perhaps his face was white to make her look so concerned and frightened.

    "We know your scar hurt downstairs, and you're white as a sheet."

  • Snape

    As Gryffindor's came spilling onto the field, he saw Snape land nearby, white-faced and tight-lipped — then Harry felt his hand on his shoulder and looked up into Dumbledore's smiling face.

    Snape was shaking slightly, very white in the face.

    Wincing, Harry looked around to see who had hold of him, and saw, with a thrill of horror, a fully grown, adult-sized Snape standing right beside him, white with rage.

    It was scary: Snape's lips were shaking, his face was white, his teeth were bared.

    And now Snape looked at Voldemort, and Snape's face was like a death mask. It was marble white and so still that when he spoke, it was a shock to see that anyone lived behind the blank eyes.

    He did not know what he felt as he saw Snape's white face, and the fingers trying to staunch the bloody wound at his neck.

  • Ron

    Ron's knuckles were white on the steering wheel.

    "We can't," said Ron, who was paper-white."He'll be in worse trouble if they know we've been to see him...."

    Ron crawled to the four-poster and collapsed onto it, panting, his white face now tinged with green, both hands clutching his broken leg.

    But Harry was looking at Ron, who was very white and staring at Harry as though he were a ghost.

    Ron looked from Harry to Dumbledore, white-faced and shocked.

    Ron who was still very white, gave him a fleeting look, but did not speak.

    Ron was still white-faced and silent.

    Ron's face was very white and something dark was trickling from the corner of his mouth.

    Ron looked white and shocked.

  • Harry and Ron together

    Harry and Ron stared at each other, white-faced.

  • Ernie Macmillan

    Ernie bit his white lips and then, taking a deep breath, said, "We were all there. We saw what happened."

    "Caught in the act!" Ernie yelled, his face stark white, pointing his finger dramatically at Harry.

  • Lockhart

    White-faced and wandless, Lockhart approached the opening.

    Lockhart was getting to his feet a little ways away, covered in slime and white as a ghost.

  • Ginny

    Her face was white as marble, and as cold, yet her eyes were closed, so she wasn't Petrified.

    He had spoken without thinking, and saw Ginny's face whiten.

  • Lucius Malfoy

    He saw Mr. Malfoy's white hands clench and unclench.

  • Uncle Vernon

    "MORE BRANDY!" yelled Uncle Vernon, who had gone very white.

  • Sirius Black

    Harry had never met a vampire, but he had seen pictures of them in his Defense Against the Dark Arts classes, and Black, with his waxy white skin, looked just like one.

    White an' shakin' he was. (Hagrid's description)

    His face was white and gaunt as it had been when he had escaped Azkaban.

    Sirius sank slowly back into his chair, his face white.

  • Stan Shunpike

    Even Stan's pimples went white;

  • Hagrid

    "Yer not dyin'!" said Hagrid, who had gone very white.

    Hagrid had appeared in his doorway, shaking and white, looking around to see who had knocked.

  • Fred Weasley

    "Harry!" said Fred, who looked extremely white underneath the mud.

  • Hermione

    Hermione's white face was sticking out from behind a tree.

    "What's the matter?" Harry said, startled to see her face so white and terrified.

    "But — but where? How?" said Hermione, whose face was white.

    Having hurtled, white-faced, up to Harry outside the hospital wing

  • Ludo Bagman

    He looked very white and strained.

  • Mr. Crouch

    For a few seconds Crouch remained transfixed, his eyes blazing in his white face as he stared down at Winky.

    His face was still ghostly white, and his hands and his toothbrush mustache were both twitching.

  • Percy

    but Percy, who looked very white and somehow much younger than usual came splashing out to meet them.

  • Igor Karkaroff

    Harry could see him sweating in the torchlight, his white skin contrasting strongly with the black of his hair and beard.

  • Barty Crouch Jr.

    He was shivering, his straw-colored hair all over his face, his freckled skin milk-white.

    Then he remembered the milk-white face of the screaming boy and realized with a jolt that he had died a year later.

  • Voldemort

    Whiter than a skull, with wide, livid scarlet eyes and a nose that was flat as a snake's with slits for nostrils...

And a dozen other such descriptions.

  • Cornelius Fudge

    The face of Cornelius Fudge appeared upside down over Harry; it looked white, appalled.

  • Moody

    He looked as white as Fudge had looked, and both eyes were fixed unblinkingly upon Harry's face.

  • Mrs. Weasley

    Mrs. Weasley nodded. She was very white.

    "Of course you can," said Mrs. Weasley. She was white to the lips, but she looked resolute.

  • Aunt Petunia

    "What sort of things did you hear, popkin?" breathed Aunt Petunia, very white-faced and with tears in her eyes.

    "I see," said Uncle Vernon, looking from his white-faced wife to Harry and hitching up his trousers.

  • Katie Bell

    It was plain that Angelina had stopped training just in time; Katie was now chalk-white and covered in blood.

  • Draco Malfoy

    Draco Malfoy had landed close by; white-faced with fury, he was still managing to sneer.

    Slipping and staggering, Harry got to his feet and plunged toward Malfoy, whose face was now shining scarlet, his white hands scrabbling at his blood-soaked chest.

    Flames reared, their light darting across a terrified, pointed white face — with a sense of emerging from deep water, Harry drew heaving breaths and opened his eyes.

  • Dumbledore

    Directly above them, framed in the doorway from the Brain Room, stood Albus Dumbledore, his wand aloft, his face white and furious.

    Dumbledore's expression did not change, but Harry thought his face whitened under the bloody tinge cast by the setting sun.

    Harry stared into the whitened face he knew so well, at the crooked nose and half-moon spectacles, and did not know what to do.

    Standing against the ramparts, very white in the face, Dumbledore still showed no sign of panic or distress.

    He spread his arms wide, and his hands were both whole and white and undamaged.

  • Narcissa Malfoy

    She threw off her cloak, cast it aside, and sat down, staring at her white and trembling hands clasped in her lap.

    She sat up, her face paper-white, her eyes huge.

    "It's all right Draco," said Narcissa, restraining him with her thin white fingers upon his shoulder.

  • Merope Gaunt

    Merope raised her head. Her face, Harry saw, was starkly white.

    Merope was so white Harry felt sure she was going to faint.

  • Slughorn

    "Yes, of course," said Slughorn quietly, still dabbing at his white face.

  • Draco Malfoy and Dumbledore

    "I haven't got any options!" said Malfoy, and he was suddenly white as Dumbledore.

  • Remus Lupin

    His face was set and white: He seemed unable to speak.

    Now Lupin's tortured white face seemed to swim in the air before him.

    He was white-faced, wrapped in a traveling cloak, his graying hair windswept.

  • Mrs. Cattermole

    Here, behind a balustrade, sat Umbridge, with Yaxley on one side of her, and Hermione, quite as white-faced as Mrs. Cattermole, on the other.

  • Xenophilius Lovegood

    Xenophilius's paper-white face appeared over the top of the sideboard.

  • Luna Lovegood

    Harry saw Luna, all eyes in her white face, and the motionless figure of Ollivander the wandmaker, curled up on the floor in the corner.

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    Rowling has indicated that the use of the word "white" in these descriptions of Hermione should not be understood as a "canonical statement" of her race, which undercuts the validity of this approach to answering Paul L's question. – sumelic Nov 1 '18 at 5:50
  • "White with fear" could just mean "less dark than usual". Many people who wouldn't be called "white" could be "white with fear" or have "white knuckles" depending on the situation. And a black person who is much less dark than usual because of fear might be called "white with fear". Or how would you describe them? – gnasher729 Nov 1 '18 at 12:33
  • And Voldemort looks different from what he used to look like. In the films he looks barely human. You can't really say if he changed from a normal white person or a normal black person to what he is now. – gnasher729 Nov 1 '18 at 12:37

protected by Community Nov 2 '18 at 3:41

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