White privilege is the fantasy genre, especially concerning western children’s literature.
White privilege is authors like Tamora Pierce, Madeline L’Engle, Eva Ibbotson, Lloyd Alexander, C.S. Lewis, Roald Dahl, Edward Eager, Christopher Paolini, J.R.R. Tolkien, Holly Black, Garth Nix, George R.R. Martin, the beloved J.K. Rowling, and countless others who create amazing worlds of magic, mayhem, and wonder where the protagonist can conquer evil and save every type of world – but only if they are white.
White privilege is having fantasy stories that are set entirely in other worlds focused around Middle Age European-type settings where there is no need to describe a human character’s skin tone unless they are a POC, because all other characters are presumed to be white. It is having fantasy stories where “real world” children who are transported to other places all come from suburban, middle-class “broken homes” and are all Anglo or Anglo-American. It is having human characters be kings, queens, blacksmiths, knights, princesses, witches, wizards, warlocks, shopkeepers, generals, traders, bandits, lords, ladies, priests, priestesses, thieves, shapeshifters, bar owners, innkeepers, apprentices, anything and everything that can be imaginable while the majority of POC characters are limited to being “savage” others, “tribal” barbarians, and other stereotypes that reek of Imperialist views. It is all of the “good” non-human races are pure, hardworking, just, and light-skinned, such as dwarfs, elves, wizards, and fairies. It is all of the “bad” races being inherently evil with no cause, being needlessly cruel, dirty, and dark skinned, such as goblins, warlocks, orcs, trolls, and in many cases, centaurs. It is the film and television adaptations of these stories solidifying the idea that only white actors can play the characters who save the world, the powerful evildoers who construct all the plans, the love interests, the kick-ass side kicks, and the extras in all the towns… and solidifying the idea that the only thing brown actors are good for are being the goons and the less-powerful villains. It is having the main characters have mainly British and American accents, and having the minor bad guys have thick accents that are supposed to sound like they come from an African, Asian, or Caribbean nation. It is having the fantasy genre dominated by white authors. It is having only a handful of black characters (Daja from the Circle of Magic Quartet, Lee Jordan from Harry Potter) stretched across the genre that are “good guys,” having fewer Asian characters, and having no Indigenous or Latin@ characters. It is worlds composed almost entirely of white people because clearly there can be no room for anyone else when you have places where there are talking lions.
White privilege is never knowing what it feels like to want to escape into a world of fantasy, only to be told through its characters that you and POC like you do not exist even in the furthest stretches of imagination.
Submission from lo-cotidiano
Bolded by me.