In the Potterverse, there is definitely some sort of elitism that occurs between the 'pure-bloods' and muggle-borns or even half-bloods. There's also a specieism that occurs that we see between various creatures, especially between Wizards and other sentient creatures like the giants and centaurs. Considering that there is this prejudice that exists in the Potterverse, do we see any instances of cultural racism as well?

Just an idea - part of the purpose of the Tri-Wizard tournament was to promote greater international bonds between wizards. Might be something worth investigating...

  • Considering this question (scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/88022/…) I don't understand the negative response - please don't just downvote but explain why you downvote! – Often Right Jun 13 '15 at 3:32
  • @Slytherincess fair enough - sounds like a good policy for me to adopt too ;) – Often Right Jun 13 '15 at 4:46
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    Well, I suggested it because I really think it benefits the user asking the question -- more often than not you will get more answers, and more quality answers. This is always a good thing! Also, I meant to say that my comments regarding choosing answers were in no way meant to impugn cde's answer. :) – Slytherincess Jun 13 '15 at 4:50
  • @Slytherincess well hiss hiss to you too – user16696 Jun 13 '15 at 5:02
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    @cde -- Yes, yes, indeed! Boo! Hiss! :) – Slytherincess Jun 14 '15 at 16:33

At Dictionary.com, there were several definitions for race, including:

  • An arbitrary classification of modern humans, sometimes, especially formerly, based on any or a combination of various physical characteristics, as skin color, facial form, or eye shape, and now frequently based on such genetic markers as blood groups.


  • A socially constructed category of identification based on physical characteristics, ancestry, historical affiliation, or shared culture: Her parents wanted her to marry within her race.

cde mentions elitism due to blood status, but I want to expand. The first Dictionary.com example definition is interesting in that it identifies blood groups as a basis for an individual to belong to a specific race. In this context, Voldemort's blood purity campaign could qualify as a form of cultural racism. Voldemort wanted pure-bloods to reign supreme and lord over half-bloods and Muggleborns, and he discriminated against them openly. Further, he was willing to kill witches and wizards who were not pure-bloods with impunity.

In Order of the Phoenix, Pansy Parkinson, a white Slytherin girl, taunts Angelina Johnson, a black Gryffindor girl, about Angelina's braided hair. It is common for individuals of African descent to wear their hair in "cornrow" braids, a hairstyle rarely seen in other races. From Order of the Phoenix:

‘Hey, Johnson, what’s with that hairstyle, anyway?’ shrieked Pansy Parkinson from below. ‘Why would anyone want to look like they’ve got worms coming out of their head?’

Angelina swept her long braided hair out of her face and continued calmly, ‘Spread out, then, and let’s see what we can do ...’

Order of the Phoenix - page 261 - Chapter 14, Percy and Padfoot - Bloomsbury

As cornrow braids are very frequently worn by people of African descent -- certainly more so than any other race here in the United States -- Pansy's taunting of Angelina's hair could qualify as Pansy exhibiting racism against Angelina's shared culture, which qualifies as cultural racism, which meets the second definition of racism from Dictionary.com.

Yes, cultural racism is present in Potterverse.

I realize Pansy's taunt does not specifically cite cornrow braids; J.K. Rowling just notes that Angelina has "braids". However, Pansy's specific description of Angelina's braids looking like "worms" would be more consistent with cornrow braids than, say, just two braids, ala Pippi Longstocking. For the record, I do not think cornrow braids look like worms or are unattractive in any way. I am merely talking semantics. Just so that's clear.

  • Makes you wonder, can xenophobia, outside of real world cultural differences, be considered racism? Could someone like Pansy, completely removed from real world racist upbringing, be considered actually racist, instead of xenophobic? I mean, she (I'm assuming since she's not a muggles born) insults Angelina for being different instead of for being black. It's a subtle if pedantic difference. – user16696 Jun 13 '15 at 5:08
  • @cde - Well, on a canonical level, Pansy is a generational pure-blood; hers is one of the Great 28 (I'm not remembering its exact name) pure-blood families in Potterverse. Dictionary.com defines xenophobia as: an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange. I didn't interpret the passage from OOTP as Pansy demonstrating fear. She was aggressively taunting Angelina, and took the initiative to hone in on one of Angelina's characteristics of shared culture -- her braids. I see plain racism, but, to be fair, it is not completely overt. – Slytherincess Jun 14 '15 at 15:31
  • Xenophobia, like homophobic, does not strictly mean fear. – user16696 Jun 14 '15 at 16:49
  • what cde said. You ignored the "...or hatred" part of the xenophobia definition. Personally I think it is a stretch to say that Pansy's taunting is definitively racist. It might not even be xenophobic. It could simply be kids taunting because well, they're kids. – The Giant of Lannister Jun 14 '15 at 16:51

Elitism of blood purity is called racism... in the US this was codified as the One Drop rule https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-drop_rule

As for cultural racism, the general antimuggle sentiment among the so call pure blood would classify.

If you are asking about examples of overt racial bias in universe, there is nothing blatant. In universe probably having the Irish kid being good at explosives. The closest that comes to it is lack of inclusion of non-anglosaxon characters or bad casting out of universe. If you believe that having a mostly white cast in England is racist anyways.

  • I've clarified my question somewhat - you may wish to revise your answer – Often Right Jun 13 '15 at 3:46
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    Updated. Of course this is subjective, some people see racism everywhere and some nowhere – user16696 Jun 13 '15 at 4:02
  • Good points made – Often Right Jun 13 '15 at 4:05

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