Tuesday, March 27, 2012


In this month of March in the year 2012, it is impossible to avoid race as a social construct and its toxic place in our lives. Trayvon Martin. The Republican primaries. And now, The Hunger Games. Seems a lot of moviegoers were appalled that the characters of Rue, Thresh and Cinna were portrayed as Black.

Cast members of The Hunger Games

In the book, when we first meet 12-year-old Rue, we are told, "She has dark brown skin and eyes" and is very small in stature. Anyone who noticed that description would say the casting of Amandla Stenberg, who stole the show in the action flick Columbiana, was perfection.

The divine Amandla Stenberg

Author Suzanne Collins wrote the other District 11 tribute Thresh, played by Dayo Okeniyi, as having "dark brown skin," and did not specify skin color for the character of Cinna, the Capitol stylist played by Lenny Kravitz. It's a little stunning to discover the degree to which the casting of these characters rattled some folks. Consider the tweets that scrolled in.

Lest you think these sorts of tweets were arriving in dribs and drabs, one news organization was nice enough to do a compilation, so we could see the sentiment was quite widely felt.

The website Jezebel helpfully noted: "These people are MAD that the girl that they cried over while reading the book was 'some black girl' all along. So now they're angry. Wasted tears, wasted emotions."

An interesting aside: Katniss, the main character in the book, was described as having "straight black hair" and "olive skin." Many people imagined her as Native American, but blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jennifer Lawrence won the part. No one tweeted complaints about that (although though there was some snark about her not being skinny enough—I could do a whole other post about that). But there was this tweet, in response to all the madness. Now you know.


  1. Oy. It would be different if they were dissapointed that hispanics/latinos or asians weren't also represented, but that's not how they are saying it.

  2. thank you for posting this. i get so tired of trying to convince my white friends and neighbors that racism is alive and well today. and here you've spelled it out so plainly and clearly that it's not arguable.

  3. I just...
    Appalling doesn't begin to cover it.

  4. Gross. And Sad. So saddening. 2012 and we are still here.

  5. This upset me tremendously, too.

    So much hate, and so much stupidity. Apparently racists have little reading comprehension, although I suppose that isn't surprising.

    It's 2012, why are we not farther along the evolutionary scale than this? We have a black president, I thought things were getting better, measurably better.

  6. Steph(anie), you nailed it! yes. exactly.

    Laura, welcome! is this the first time you've commented here? your blog is simply beautiful. i'm glad to see you!

    ah, dear mary, don't even let it bother you. I'm not letting it bother me.

    Miss A, and here we are, indeed. hugs.

  7. Wow - this is unbelievable! So so disappointing, I'm so glad you posted this to bring it to all our attentions!

  8. ellen, the thing that confused me is these folks professed to love the book. did they not READ the book? i do think hate stunts evolution. it's so tempting to meet hate with hate, but that is always a mistake. avoidance, however, is perfectly permissible. haha.

    i am so glad we are sisters.

  9. holy shit. the key words I hope this doesn't sound racist but

    I have tangled with people at my Good Old Boy job for using those words.

    I just finished the first book and I am so sick to read this.

    Ignorant America.


  10. Jody, better to focus on the positive, I suppose but this post did allow me to not dwell on the idiocy and move on. The movie was good! Not perfect, but I did enjoy it.

    And happy belated birthday! That party looked like a hoot! Fabulous dress too!

  11. Holy smokes. I don't know much about The Hunger Games but I am SPEECHLESS.

  12. I think people just skimmed through the book with paying any attention to the details.
    That Amandla Stenberg is the cutest thing ever. And don't even get me started on Lenny Kravitz!

  13. Hey Angella,

    Yeah. I've been following this story and it's just so disappointing. I mean the book clearly describes the character and we all know that when we read books WE create our own images for ourselves. I imagined Rue to be very close to the girl they cast for the part while reading the trilogy, and interestingly, I imagined Cinna to look altogether different. But was I MAD when my Cinna wasn't exactly like THEIR Cinna? Uuuuhhh, no.

    This is CRAZY. All this race stuff is CRAZY right now. I tell you if feels like the real, true IDES OF MARCH and when I read those crazy twitter feeds from such young people all I could say was the same thing Caesar did: "Et tu, Brute?"


  14. I hear you Angella. It always shocks me when I hear about things like this, and I suppose it's because I don't know anyone who behaves this way. I guess I successfully avoid them in real life. Maybe I should avoid the internet, too!

    I showed this post to Greg, who loved reading the Hunger Games books too, and he shared your post on Facebook. I hope you don't mind, he was just really impressed with you. :) If you see a few incoming hits from Facebook, that's why.

  15. I'm not sure I even know who we are any more. If this were the only place that racism flourished, it would be a disgrace. That it is alive and assumed to be well so many other places is beyond words. xo

  16. Unreal. And most of these people are young teenagers. How does this happen?
    For the record, Lenni is the hottest man on the planet. They were both beautiful in the movie.
    I can't believe how closed we are as a society.

  17. PS - Here's a story I saw on CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/28/showbiz/movies/hunger-games-black-actors/index.html?hpt=hp_bn9