I have this theory that The Hunger Games is a story about racial colorblindness gone horribly wrong and basically a warning about how ignoring racism does not help racism, and rather allows racism to grow. I don’t think this is something Suzanne Collins purposefully did by any stretch of the imagination, unless Suzanne Collins completely went back on her beliefs later on. But I do think it’s in there, even if she put it in accidentally.
If you look at Panem, there is little to no discussion of actual race. Most people don’t seem to identify all that strongly with race (they do identify with the Seam, or with the Merchants, but Katniss never explictly refers to these as being racial divisions), but racial divides are still prevalent. Racial divides are especially prevalent in District 11, which is treated horribly compared to the other districts.
Quote from the Hunger Games Wiki: Their industry is agriculture; orchards, fields of wheat, and cotton surround the district. Almost everything they grow goes to the Capitol despite their starvation; if any citizen of District 11 is caught eating any of the crops, they are to be whipped in public.
This is an obvious reference to slavery, especially with the members of District 11 being described as Black. However, when Katniss thinks about the members of District 11 (she does something similar when she describes any skin color), she describes them by comparing their skin color to her own, or merely by saying they’re “dark-skinned.” She never harps on the fact that there might be any correlation between D11’s treatment and any form of prejudice. She recognizes that 1) D11 is horribly treated compared to the other districts and 2) D11 is mostly comprised of people with darker skin than her own, but she never implies that this might have been something Panem did purposefully.
Now going to the racial divide in District 12: The members of the Seam are consistently described as having a different eye color, different hair color, and different skin color than the Merchant class. The Merchants are consistently described as fairer, blonde-haired, and blue-eyed. The two groups live almost isolated from one another, rarely interacting. When Katniss’ mother (a Merchant) marries Katniss’ father (a member of the Seam), Katniss’ mother’s family actually shuns her, cutting off all contact.
Yet, Katniss never explicitly says, “Holy shit, Panem is racist as fuck!” and it doesn’t seem many of the members of the Seam or District 11 do either. Gale is one of the few exceptions to this rule in my opinion. I think he knows.
So, where I’m going with this is that the Capitol has essentially somehow brainwashed the members of its society to not explicitly think of race, while simultaneously instituting huge racial divisions. Despite how blaringly obvious those divisions are, the members of Panem are brainwashed enough that most of them don’t notice. This allows the Capitol to keep racial divisions in place without people questioning them, and not surprisingly, racism is still a thing in Panem despite the fact that many of its members do not think of race in any in depth way.
My reply isn’t showing in the notes? =(
#Y E S #panem considers itself to be post-racial when it is anything but #the capitol punishes people for talking about controversial subjects and RACE is one of them #katniss is colorblind which is why her narrative is emotionally neutral when it comes to race #re: her commenting that gale’s anger towards madge in the beginning of the book was misdirected #but not only are gale and thresh compared in text #two men of color #there’s this theme of OWING that katniss understands from explicitly black thresh #seeder is from district 11 a black district and said to look as if she could fit in the Seam #haymitch befriends chaff and seeder and those two are the first victors he introduces to katniss before the quarter quell #there are so many obvious patterns of color in the books #WHY DO PEOPLE NOT SEE THEM (via haymitchisnotwhite)
And just like with the world we live in the intersection of race, class and gender make it very unique for the position of everyone involved. And think about the Careers too, they’re described as white, and they’re also allowed to pass off with doing things that are ‘illegal’ for the games, like training for the games, and no one actually stopping them. There’s the matter of the Careers and the way Peeta is allowed to join them (he’s white too) but the Careers are after Katniss, to get her first. There’s the matter of Katniss getting a high score…and showing up the Careers…when she’s a woman of colour. There’s Rue trusting Katniss. Only because of her pin, but also because she was a woman of colour, albeit a lighter one, too?
There’s the way the Careers volunteering for the place of another kid in their district is celebrated…with very ‘white saviour’ undertones. Look instead at the way they treated Katniss when she volunteered for her sister. The people of her district understood that what she’d done was a great sacrifice, but everyone else treated it like an attention-seeking-trick she’d pulled, as if it never really mattered, hello Katniss, why the fuss huh?
At the way Katniss comes off as that ‘angry woman of colour’ and bitter. She’s right to be bitter, but unless she plays likeable for the audience that’s about to find entertainment in her fighting for her life, they won’t like her. Even Haymitch puts emphasis on it, maybe because he gets it too. As the woman of colour, is she doesn’t play nice, she isn’t going to get sponsors. But it’s when she’s willing to play their game that she gets their adoration, and only then.
…and then the last book. “IF WE BURN, YOU BURN WITH US!” Here her anger is different. She’s not trying to appeal to the Capitol. So she doesn’t have to tone down her anger to be liked. Here, she reflects the anger of the Districts.
Look at the way Katniss had to manipulate her way to victory (and for Peeta). And of course, everyone gets angry at her for it, those who know the story, Peeta is hurt and thinks she played him, but she’s a woman of colour. WoC do what we have to do in this world to survive. Haymitch got that. Perhaps the only one that did.
I don’t know if Suzanne Collins did it on purpose, but I think she definitely had something going there. And I really hate the way Hollywood messed it all up, because they really could have an amazing movie.
#another reason casting a white actress as katniss was a SUPER BAD IDEA