A Whitewashed Hunger Games

Do I think Jennifer Lawrence is a phenomenal actress? Yes.

Do I delight in her astute, feminist commentary? Yes.

Do I love the fact she rejects the Hollywood pressure to be toothpick-thin and proudly proclaims her love of Philly cheesesteaks? You bet.

But part of me still wishes that an actress of color would have been cast to play The Hunger Games’s Katniss Everdeen.

The book The Hunger Games describes Katniss as having black hair, olive skin and gray eyes–and her coloring holds significance. As blogger Alexiel argues, “The entire metaphor that runs through the book about oppression, hunger, and excess is meaningless if none of the main characters are people of color.”

The novel is set in a bleak dystopian future with extreme economic and political inequality. The wealthy Capitol’s reliance on its exploited “districts” easily reads as a metaphor for many real-world splits: between the 1% and the 99%, between the Global North and the Global South. In Katniss’s world, just as in our own, these schisms fall along racial lines. Katniss’s home of District 12 is divided by race, with the merchant class having “light hair and blue eyes” and the working class having “olive skin.”

Noting this “multi-racial culture” of the book, director Gary Ross promised, “The film will reflect that.” Yet the casting, which problematically only called for Caucasian actors to audition for the role of Katniss, suffered from whitewashing throughout. Not only are most of the main characters played by white actors, so is most of the entire cast, extras and all. A student of mine says she counted a total of 23 people of color in the entire film.

When characters of color do appear, instead of signifying the oppressive correlations between race and class, they often further stereotypes. One of the first images we see of the actual “hunger games”–the contest in which 24 adolescent “tributes” must battle to the death–is a black boy with a bloodied brick, which he has apparently just used to bash in the head of another tribute. One wonders why the first time a black face is featured, it is done so in a way that furthers the narrative that “dark people are dangerous and violent.”

In her post, Alexiel reads the sacrificed children of The Hunger Games as the sweatshop workers and child soldiers of the Global South–most of whom, of course, are of color.

Coupled with a lack of focus on the more political aspects of the book, this leads to a whitewashed, depoliticized film. Is it still worth seeing? Sure. But it could have been, well, meatier. To be fair, the book’s revolutionary aspects are not completely lost, but they simmer rather than boil. The novel’s race analysis is watered down to a weak broth.

Thankfully, the filmmakers stuck to keeping the heroic tributes from District 11, Rue and Thresh, as characters of color (as they are clearly described in the book) by casting Amandla Stenberg and Dayo Okeniyi–as well as Katniss’s stylist, Cinna. And it does make sense, to a certain extent, that most of the Capitol’s citizens, its armed “Peacekeepers” and the relatively well-off tributes from Districts 1 and 2 are played by white actors, especially if one wanted to make a point about white privilege and power. (And, to be fair, many characters in the text are racially ambiguous).

Yet the film doesn’t really make that point–instead, it uses white as the default race, casting not only the rich and powerful characters as white, but almost everyone. Instead of the “multi-racial” film the director promised, we get a film that, like the vast majority of films, depicts the world as predominantly white. As blogger Jill G. notes, there’s no reason Hollywood has to do this:

[Filmmakers] could produce a movie starring a woman of color, make it epic, advertise it in the way it deserves… and make bank. Fact of the matter is they choose not to because… why would they? Having a culture where most of the people depicted in our media are white helps to maintain white as the norm.

More worrisome still are the many racist online reactions to Cinna, Rue and Thresh’s casting–as evidenced by this post at Jezebel.

So, the next time you happen to hear the words “post-racial society” being thrown around in conversation, you might bring up this film and people’s reactions to it. Not only do stories such as Trayvon Martin’s prove we are still a society beset by racism, but so does our entertainment–even in the film adaptation of a book meant to critique injustice and power hierarchies.

Above: Games character posters released by Lions Gate and; montage by BruSimm. Characters from left to right: Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), Gale (Liam Hemsworth) & Rue (Amandla Stenberg) [TOP]; Cato (Alexander Ludwig), Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) &  Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) BOTTOM].


  1. It’s really bothersome to me that “olive skinned” has to mean person of color. I’m from almost the exact place that Katniss is supposed to be from, only a short drive from coal fields and back breaking poverty, but ultimately it IS a white poverty. South West Virginia and West Virginia are both overwhelmingly caucasian. From my perspective I did not see this as a racial issue but an attempt at racial accuracy for my region. So many other things within this movie and novel from Appalachia are completely non-congruous with my region already.

    Further, there are a sub-section of Appalachian Americans refered to as melungeonswho are dark skinned and haired. They are technically not caucasian or any other race, but bi- and tri- racial. From my regional perspective, that made more sense to me. I’m not saying perhaps the director wasn’t exibiting some type of racial prejudice, but I am saying that Appalachia is a region made up almost exclusively of whites, and being from the Appalachian region, I believe that my opinion could bring further light to this discussion.

    • Has Anyone Looked at an Olive Lately says:

      The ONLY WHITE NEED APPLY casting is what makes this a race issue. The fact that all ethnicities were not considered for the role, as Katniss’ character is racially ambiguous–Olive skin, dark hair, and grey eyes encompasses a range of ethnicities.

      It’s not just about the heroine being white; the opportunity for POC (People of Color) to audition for the role wasn’t even extended.

      It really is that simple.

  2. I really appreciate Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. I cannot imagine a better actress of a different race or not to portray the character. She was the perfect choice to depict the tough life of the marginalized rural coal mining district, historically inhabited by impoverished whites. I do wish more of the other districts had reflected the racial diversity implied in Collin’s books; District 3 tributes have “ashen skin and black hair”, for example. However, I recognize that the books are set in a future with a greater redistribution of physical racial traits that our current population doesn’t necessarily possess. Lawrence brings a great deal to the character; if you choose to hang your hat on the one issue of race, you downplay her strengths in favor of what she cannot change.

  3. Iowagirl says:

    Oh, come on. Ain’t she a woman? Ain’t that enough?

    • Amen

      • Ain’t that enough? NO.

        Saying it’s not enough does not mean it’s not noticed or appreciated. But so often we are supposed to “appreciate” some singular tidbit and shut up, be grateful. Actually, some posts here–on a feminist link no less–say essentially that.

        But since when are we supposed to be satisfied because A female has A significant role in A film? And Appalachia or otherwise, the implication is that only a white person could “represent”? How many guys think a singular central (white) male role in a film is “enough”? For that matter, how many women even notice that this role is indeed quite singular? We are quite used to not seeing women of any color well-represented in diverse ways in film.

        Saying we want more is not saying we don’t like what IS there. It is saying we can do better, go further, and imagine more.

        • I have to admit that I’ve never heard of her before and she just doesn’t look like Katniss to me… Elizabeth Olsen (Mary-Kate and Ashley’s ueyngor sister)is a new commer and her face looks to me what Katniss would look like more… Any news on who Peta will be?

        • Has Anyone Looked at an Olive Lately says:

          Yes indeed!

    • donnadara says:

      Really not appreciating you using Sojourner Truth’s words in this context. It is very disrespectful. If you think all women are alike, you don’t understand white privilege.

  4. epierson says:

    I think this is silly. If anything, The Hunger Games is better than most films in terms of multiracial casting (that’s why you saw all the racist backlash on Twitter against the casting of Thresh and Rue). 23 actors of color is a lot more than the average film; the reason most people are cast as white is that most actors are white. You can argue that Hollywood movies as a whole ought to be more racially diverse, but this film is if anything an example of someone heading in the right direction.

    And, I’m sorry, but “The entire metaphor that runs through the book about oppression, hunger, and excess is meaningless if none of the main characters are people of color”? Yeah, because only by making it racially charged can you craft a compelling and relevant story about oppression. Alternately, maybe this story about oppression is one that resonates with all races, and we don’t need something as superficial as characters’ skin color to understand that.

    • I know this was written awhile ago but I just had to say something because of how disgusted I was by this comment. “the reason that most people are cast as white is that most actors are white” Are you seriously that fucking unbelievably arrogant that you believe that there are not just as many but probably more People of color who are working just as fucking hard to get a role? I mean have you ever fucking noticed that there is pretty much always one token poc character in each show? Its not because somehow every white actor is fantastic and every poc actor sucks its because most of the time they will only cast one poc in the main cast because they want to cater to white audiences. I mean the director specifically said only white actresses could audition for katniss and that sort of shit happens everyday. So how the fuck are you going to tell me that there are no talented poc aspiring to be actors when they aren’t even given a chance?

      “we don’t need something as superficial as characters skin color to understand that.” Superficial? How dare you make a mockery of something that people have to struggle with almost everyday. Its not the same god damn things as losing weight or dyeing your fucking hair. People CANNOT change or control their skin color like some fucking costume and they are judged & have stereotypes placed on them all the time and have to prove themselves. Where as white people do not have to be constantly reminded of their skin color! I mean you had to have seen the doll test (where young children all say the white doll is the most beautiful, people are directly effected by the media so while oblivious ass people like you get grow up and see yourself reflected as a hero, as likable,as beautiful while poc are basically told since the moment in childhood they lay their eyes on the tv screen that they are secondary characters riddled with stereotypes or just plain invisible.
      “Alternately, maybe this story about oppression is one that resonates with all races.” And by casting pretty much all white characters as the leads/heroes resonates with other races how?
      “23 actors of color is a lot more than the average film’ Oh so we should just be happy with scraps & shut up? NO! 3 secondary characters(who all die btw) and 20 other random poc in the background is NOT better in terms or multiracial casting AT ALL.
      “yeah, because only by making it racially charged can you craft a compelling & relevant story about oppression” Yes this is true a movie does not need to be racially charged to be compelling BUT it would have been nice to see main characters who were poc & heroes and not some time piece about the trail of tears or the civil war ESPECIALLY since there is no shortage of these for Caucasian people whereas I can’t think of ONE movie that has a young poc as the lead that is this popular/mainstream or well written as The Hunger Games. Soooo I think you should sit down and shut up before your hurt yourself with that idiotic ass opinion of yours.

  5. I enjoyed this post very much and have discussed this with several friends after watching the film. I felt a similar way about the depiction of Appalachians in the film (which are in District 12). It’s not as big of an issue as the ‘whitewashing,’ and I’m not even sure I feel that it’s a problem. As an Appalachian, myself, I just find it so interesting that they chose to depict us as these dirty, backwoods people – again, more stereotyping. I know a lot of this has to do with the way our ancestors lived, and perhaps because District 12 is located in a futuristic country that’s gone through a drastic change because of war and conflict, the Appalachians had to go back to a simpler way of living. Still, it seemed to only further stereotypes of Appalachian people.

  6. Stephen says:

    “Instead of the “multi-racial” film the director promised, we get a film that, like the vast majority of films, depicts the world as predominantly white”

    I hate it to break it to you, but America is predominantly white, as is the Appalachian mountain region the book takes place in. I didn’t think that having most of the actors and actresses be white diluted the class commentary at all. If most of the poor people had been black as you seem to desire in this article, that would have furthered stereotypes much more intensely than the black tribute’s killing another with a brick.

    Having the black characters that we did was excellent to me, a black person. It was pretty clear to me in the book that Katniss was White as was her family. Expecting her to be black seems like a bit much to me. I love racial progress in film but this is still America. Having a strong black young woman in Rue kept a smile on my face even in her death. Even greater it sparked a rebellion in her seemingly mostly black district.

    I was also surprised to see black people in the Capitol which I almost thought would be entirely devoid of color

    • Uhm, it was not clear that Katniss was white in the books. Quite the opposite. And there are many shades between black and white, but even something that superficial is missing the point.

      “If most of the poor people had been black as you seem to desire in this article, that would have furthered stereotypes much more intensely than the black tribute’s killing another with a brick”

      I don’t believe this to be true, or what the author is “desiring.” You do realize that the reason many minorities are poor in this country is a result of oppression, right? Not a character flaw or inherent trait. So it’s not a negative stereotype to show people of color being poor. It is a reflection of the reality of the dystopian story that is the Hunger Games.

      “I love racial progress in film but this is still America.”

      What does that even mean…this is America, so we shouldn’t expect too much? No, sorry, that’s not good enough, I expect more from my country!

  7. I agree with you, as do several friends who shared this article with me via Twitter. I’ve made some further commentary on why this issue is important here, if you are interested:


    • I disagree. I think the movie was amazing. I didn’t see a problem on in it. Olive colored skin doesn’t mean she can’t be white. I think this post, and any other regarding “the many problems [you] have with the hunger games” is silly.

      • You’re right, olive colored skin doesn’t mean she can’t be white. The problem is that during the casting call for Katiniss, they specified they ONLY wanted Caucasian actresses for the role. If they opened up casting to all ethnicities and still decided Jennifer Lawrence was best for the part, I would be totally fine with it. I think Jennifer Lawrence is a phenomenal actress, and I love her personality and hilarious interviews. The problem is that when casting for Katniss, they didn’t even give POC actresses a chance to audition for the role of Katniss, and this demonstrates the way in which America expects its main characters to be white and largely relegates POCs to secondary roles.

        • maybe they were looking for someone who is white because they believed she was due to the fact that her mother & sister had light hair & blue eyes.

          • she isn’t white her mother is white because she is from the merchant class. But katniss directly stated she took after her father who is olive skin

  8. Madison says:

    Wow, i cannot believe the comments this article is recieving. I expected to find solace and like-minded people critiquing a very obvious issue of the film but instead its just more irrelevant, sheltered white people making excuses and ignoring the facts. I completely agree with this article and Kell. Newsflash, people… The biggest privilege of whiteness is to live oblivious to your own privilege and the racial inequalities others experience at our hands. Wake up and stop perpetrating racism. Just because YOU dont have a problem with this film doesnt mean actual POC don’t!!

    • I haven’t seen her in any movies but I’ve heard she’s a good certass . Looking at the picture, I can’t imagine her as Katniss but as long as she can act, I don’t mind so much.I hope they choose a good actor for Peeta too.Misha Mathewb4s last post ..

    • the issue is not very obvious in the film. although katniss herself wasn’t given much description her mother and sister were depicted as light hair and blue eyes. and just because some people do not agree with you, it does not make them irrelevant or sheltered. it just means they had a different view on a book than you. and just because YOU have a problem with this film doesn’t mean everyone else does.

  9. donnadara says:

    Jennifer Lawrence is not olive-skinned.

  10. AndiBean says:

    …Did no one here actually read the books? I, too, take “olive-skinned” to mean Mediterranean or European in descent, not necessarily African American. Not to mention that Katniss’s sister Prim is BLONDE WITH BLUE EYES. *Ahem* But apparently actually reading the books and paying attention to character descriptions makes me racist.

    • donnadara says:

      Everyone who commented clearly read the books and the character descriptions. And just so you know there are actually blonde haired and blue eyed black people. Your sarcasm is inappropriate. And again Jennifer Lawrence is not olive skinned.

      • if the writer of the book approves of the cast clearly there was not a misunderstanding in the casting description of katniss

      • THANK YOU. The beauty of Collins’s novel is her ambiguous interpretation of the races. You may have seen her as Mediterranean; I personally saw her as more Asian. But that’s beside the point. What’s important was that they specifically went against the book’s description and only allowed CAUCASIAN people to audition for the role of Katniss. And what does her sister’s racial description have to do with Katniss’s? Yes, Prim looks more like her mother. That’s basic genetics. But who says Katniss can’t look like her father, who probably – like the majority of the coal miners in the Seam – shares his daughter’s olive skin? It’s frankly insulting to bi- or tri-racial individuals when they hear that they can’t be a certain race because of the way their siblings look.

  11. Have you seen the “Katniss is olive-skinned” tumblr? It has lots of great graphics, including this one, which I think is an awesome depiction of the Prim, Katniss, Gale, Mr. Everdeen, and Haymitch. 🙂


    • Well I was erllay erllay hoping they would choose someone that LOOKED slightly like Katniss so, if they don’t dye her hair, I’m gonna be very annoyed. I must admit; she looks kinda, uh, dreamy, to be Katniss, but, um, we’ll see, I guess. (Although I was going for Hailee Steinfield (she’s a good actress (Nominated for an Academy Award at 14?) and looks like a Katniss) or Emma Roberts)

  12. Just to clarify a few points – I did not expect Katniss to be depicted as black/African-American, and I think Lawrence was actually very good in the role, but the fact the casting call specified Caucasian is troublesome. Katniss is described as “olive-skinned” with dark hair and dark eyes — she is thus racially ambiguous, but need NOT be white (as stipulated in the casting call). And yes, Prim is described as having blonde hair and blue eyes (as is Katniss’s mother), and as is Peeta – this is clearly linked with their merchant class status (Katniss’s mom was from the merchant class, her father was a miner).
    The book is making distinct social commentary about race/class and the film waters this down. This saddens me. Given the majority of our films are dominated by white faces, why specifically exclude actresses of color to play Katniss in the casting call?
    I, like Madison, find this thread disheartening as claiming skin color is “superficial” smacks to me of privilege — it is sometimes seen or claimed to be superficial by those not oppressed by it, yes. And to claim America is predominantly white renders invisible the diversity of our country. This reminds me of a discussion I had with students about this topic, and how it feels when their skin color/race/heritage is not depicted in media or is only depicted negatively — they note feeling invisible, feeling like they don’t matter, don’t belong, are ugly, and so on. Tell me, are their feelings “superficial”?
    Finally, as to the claim coal miners were only or even predominantly white, this is not the case- as this article (a pdf link) explores: http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/25474784?uid=3739560&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=4769884804429

  13. B-thorne says:

    This is one of the reasons why I don’t watch big Hollywood films is because as a Black woman I know they will never portray us in films with any kind of depth or respect.

  14. As a woman of color I find the thread for this article is very heart breaking.

    I really don’t understand how people can call this article silly. This is as serious as Trayvon’s case. I feel that the people who called this article silly may have white privilege and don’t understand the reason for calling the movie makers out because this idea of challenging whiteness may be foreign to them. I honestly do feel that the movie makers clearly did not want a woman of color to play a “olive skinned” woman nor her olive skinned, blonde hair, blue eyed family. They wanted to cast a white woman to play Katniss because of profit, which also equates profit to only being white. If it did not then the casting call would have been open to all women. This clearly shows that our institution of media is messed up. Also our society is just perpetuating whiteness as the top idea in this country, instead of breaking it down.

    Since the movie is out, we need to critique the movie makers and the movie as the audience. We should step out this box that as been constructed for us and call out the injustices and what is wrong. We should not call out the people who are trying to change our society for the better, or their articles as being silly. It just shifts the focus on something that didn’t need to be called out as wrong and ignores the problem. The real problem is as a society we have got used to accepting whiteness as the best system for our society when it’s not. Look at the feedback the three characters of color from the movie are receiving. It’s racism at it’s finest. Why should their race truly matter, especially when it’s going along with how the book was witten. Yet, it is not being questioned that most films people of color are casted in they are playing stereotypical roles that tend to reflect their racial identity. I feel that as a society we don’t like to call this out because we do not like the feeling of being put in a uncomfortable place, of people being against us. Yet isn’t society already against people of color. People of color do not have any privileges when it comes to race. If they did then women of color would have honestly had a shot at a role of the empowering Katniss. Instead they are coasted as secondary roles and still discriminated against. Also, they are twenty three people of color in the movie but how many white people? If we are sticking to the book how diverse should the Capitol and districts been? I bet it would have had more than twenty three people of color.

    This movie sticks to the different ideas that society holds up on a pedestal including whiteness being the way to live our life by. I am not saying that the woman who played Katniss in the movie did a bad job, she was incredible. I am just saying that there wasn’t a woman of color that could have been just as amazing as her playing the part? Even if there was a woman of color who could be Katniss, our society would not have liked the movie the same. Our society can’t even handle three people of color playing secondary roles in the film. This movie not only made Katniss an empowering “olive skinned” woman white, but down played hunger like it was nothing. To me, it really did like to down play a lot of oppression that needs to be questioned. I guess when you hold prilivilege in multiple areas, you can pick and choose how to represent oppression that most people can’t pick and choose to go through in their lives.

    • Feather says:

      ‘Olive skinned’ suggests a Mediterranian skintone not Black, Asian, Native American or Latin. Characters that are meant to be Black include Rue and Thresh and they are described as ‘dark skinned’. We can presume then that if Katniss was meant to be Black she would have been similarly described.

      The casting call for the character of Katniss specified Caucasian. Caucasian is a pretty broad term however and can be applied to people from the Mediterranian with ‘Olive skin’. For all we know there may have been a girl with a nice Olive skin that would have pleased everyone here (but I highly doubt it). However if Miss Perfect Olive Skin could not portray the character or Katniss adequetly, then yes, I’ll take Jennifer Lawrence with her Oscar nomination and non olive skin. If you want to call this white washing by all means go ahead. I would call it choosing actors/actresses based upon their talent rather than trying to appear as non ‘rascist’ as possible, which is after all not the job of the casting team.

      Before anyone accuses me of having ‘white privilage’. I’m mixed race, my Mother is Black and my Father White. My ancestry is of no importance in this discussion really, not to me or any other decent person but as it seems to be of such importance here I thought I’d mention it.

      Bottom line. ‘olive skinned’ does not mean a ‘person of colour’

      • Posted by Feather: “Olive skinned’ suggests a Mediterranian skintone not Black, Asian, Native American or Latin…”

        “… Bottom line. ‘olive skinned’ does not mean a ‘person of colour’…”

        LOL!!! So now the term “Olive-toned” is exclusive only to Caucasians? You see folks, this is an exact example of the “white Privilege” that’s being discussed. But before I comment further, let’s try to dispel some of the ignorance first:

        1) Go to Google.
        2) Type in “olive-toned skin”.
        3) Click the “images” link at the top of the page.
        4) Notice the cultural diversity of women that are represented by that “skin color” in all of its hues and shades.

        Since I’m now on this line of thinking, I would argue that the casting of the character Rue in of itself was not in accordance with the description of the book (although the girl is adorable and played her part well). To me, Amandla Stenburg (Rue) is OLIVE-TONED…

        In the book it states:
        “…And most hauntingly, a twelve-year-old girl from District 11. She has DARK BROWN skin and eyes, but other than that’s she’s very like Prim in size and demeanor…”

        and also:
        “…The boy tribute from District 11, Thresh, has THE SAME DARK SKIN AS RUE, but the resemblance stops there. He’s one of the giants, probably six and half feet tall and built like an ox…”

        I’m sure that anyone who has seen the film would agree that Thresh & Rue didn’t share the same DARK skin tone in the movie. It appears that even the character Rue herself has been somewhat white-washed if we are to base it on the description in the book.

        But I guess those who cast the actors in the movie were attempting to be economically sound by casting a classical CAUCASIAN-LOOKING woman for an OLIVE-TONED role, and an olive-toned girl for a DARK-BROWN skinned role. Their proof in doing so can be seen by the reaction to olive-toned Rue being placed in the film. Imagine the dismay if it were truly a dark-brown skinned girl!

        But this is only news to some, as many African American actresses have dealt with issues like this. Lena Horne & Dorothy Dandridge are shining examples of talented actresses of this ilk who were only cast because of their lighter-colored skin.

        As for me personally, I have no problem with ANY of the casting. I enjoyed the movie (although the premise of the film is somewhat disturbing (children hunting children? Really???)).

      • Seriously? Olive-skinned can mean a ton of different kinds of people. There are Arab people who have olive skin. There are North Africans with olive skin. It does not necessarily mean Caucasian. And quite frankly, it only means Caucasian if we white people feel like it does, i.e. when it suits our purposes; like, say, in casting a much-anticipated film. Heck, we used to say the Irish weren’t Caucasian, and those folks are *white*. To ignore this is to ignore history.

  15. She’s not who I would have picked, but I think she’s much btteer than some of the people whose names were being thrown around for the role. She was excellent in Winter’s Bone and I think that proved she could get down and dirty for a role. We’ll see how she does.Melissab4s last post ..

  16. I’ve never read the books and will never see the films, but as a black person (straight from Southern Africa) I felt the nees to tell you guys that we do come in olive skin tones. In fact I think that every race can lay claim to it. The way she is described I thought she’d be a mixed person (black and white/ white and native american) or a latina.

  17. Alissa says:

    How could Katniss have not been white if she had the same parents as her blond haired blue eyed sister??

  18. I’m someone that read all the books and watched the film three times. Though I do think that Jennifer Lawrence portrayed the role of Katniss excellently, I do however think that limiting the casting call to caucasian-only actresses was ridiculous.
    All these people saying, “Oh, white people can have olive skin too” just seems to be flat-out denial of white privilege to me. Fact is, the entire Hollywood industry is whitewashed. I felt this film had a lot of potential to go beyond all these stereotypes, being set in the future where there would be a lot of racial mixing anyways, and was fairly disappointed to see Jennifer Lawrence, a 5ft-7, blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl-next-door type playing a girl I pictured as somewhere in the range of 5ft-2 (she’s described to be small), and having bi-racial qualities.
    To set Katniss as maybe a Latino, mixed, or even Asian girl would’ve sent out a message to girls of color they can be heroines, too. Growing up as an Asian girl, I know I would’ve really appreciated having a strong female character that was the minorities of the minorities (In other words, races besides black or white.)

    • Well said Emily! I fully agree with your insightful comment. Thank you for being a voice for the other minorities out there (as a half European half Latin girl, I feel fairly underrepresented in the entertainment industry too…we really need more ethnically diverse heroines).

  19. I believe that race does not matter, so why do we make such a big deal out of it? “Olive-skinned” to me represents someone of Greek or Mediterranean heritage. White people are not all just pale as a sheet of paper and rich or better off. There are certainly white people who suffer from poverty. Black people are not all poor; there are many, many successful black people. The fact that you are upset that they don’t use black people to convey poverty only speaks to the ingrained racism of your (possibly our culture’s) mindset. WV, the real-life District 12, has a lot of impoverished white folks, not to mention a mix of racial backgrounds.

    Katniss Everdeen, in my opinion, was never black. Just tanned. Mixed race, maybe? But most likely just someone with Greek or Mediterranean roots. If they felt Jennifer Lawrence was most qualified, then so be it.

    But I do concede we have a problem with race in this country. There are many deep-seated racial stereotypes in all groups. And a lot of the time, it appears that black people really, really hate white people. And that whites, or Asians, or hispanics, are uncomfortable with any of the groups previously listed. As a whole, we are not sure how to handle it. We do not practice what we preach. We can never seem to ignore skin color or ethnicity for what it is – unimportant. If Trayvon Martin had been Asian, would George Zimmerman be seen as a racist or merely a crazy, paranoid dude? What he did by unfoundedly pursuing Trayvon, thereby leading to an altercation that lead to Trayvon’s death is completely inexcusable. But I wonder if it would have gained the same national attention if he had been a different race? Or is it also true that many of these tragedies happen to families of other races including blacks all the time and don’t gain the attention they deserve?

    Certainly, as a nation, we really need to reconsider how we look at race. We need to try to see people for their character, not their race, religion, or sexual orientation. Those are just some of my thoughts, sorry if they are not eloquently expressed or particularly coherent. I’ve had quite a long day. This article just inspired me to weigh in. That’s all.

  20. I have olive skin with black hair. I am NOT white. I am a Hispanic woman with olive skin and black hair. When I am reading the book I imagine Katniss looks like Jennifer Lopez or Salma Hayek. Katniss looks like her dad. She has olive skin with black hair. Prim looks blonde like her mother.

  21. I like Jennifer’s Katniss, but Lionsgate passed up a chance to pick a darker skinned actress to be a worldwide icon.

    And for people who say that they live in Katniss’s area and it is mostly white people, that doesn’t make a difference. This is in the future- for all you know, people from the South Asia/Middle East/Mediterranean and possibly North Africa area, like myself, with black hair, olive skin, and light eyes could have come over and populated the East coast in the time period between now and the age of Panem.

    Lots of people say that “olive” just means “white with a tan.” No, olive does not mean white with a tan. Olive is a light, but definitely medium skin tone with gold or greenish tones. As in, born with tan skin. People also say that Katniss is mostly white because of her gray eyes. Nope. My aunt and several other of my relatives have olive skin, black hair, and gray-green eyes. And I’m pretty sure I don’t have more than two drops of European blood in me.

    And Katniss can be “not white” if her sister is white. My aunt, who I already mentioned, is married to a blonde haired blue eyed man. Her kids? 2 daughters, 1 son. One of the girls and the boy are as white as their father, with his blonde hair and blue eyes, and “white” facial features. The last girl? As olive skinned as me, with black hair and ethnic features. She’s not white, or at least, not in appearance.

    Katniss is not white.

  22. I think its kind of hard for them to make it realistic if Katniss is Asian (olive skinned etc.) but has a blue-eyed, blonde-haired, pale-skinned sister. You can’t have two non-adopted sisters of completely different races.

    • Mr. and Mrs. Everdeen are a mixed-race couple, making Katniss and Prim biracial even though they look like one or the other. Granted, this isn’t visually obvious with Mr. Everdeen dead.

      • Common Sense says:

        Where does it EVER say in the books that Mr and Mrs Everdeen were mixed race? Quote it for me please.

        • MeloMelo says:

          Its mentioned that Katniss takes as her father (olive skin, grey eyes, dark hair) and Prim is like her mom (light skin, blue eyed, blond). It doesnt mean its a mixed race couple but it could be.
          We can also take for example the mixed race couple that had twins, one of the girls turned black and the other white, to explain why Katniss and Prim look so different.

  23. Hi everyone. Realize this is old but I just read it for the first time.

    I actually just wrote to drop by with some support for all the strong and insightful people in this thread. Because even though there undoubtedly is a lot of ignorance flowing around here too, such as the “superficial as race”-comment, I find that this debate here is miles from where we’re at in Sweden right now. In Sweden we’ve quite newly started discussing white priviledge on a wider scale, and the debate is still in general VERY narrow and full of condescending white people. So well yeah, if this above is how the debate in general goes I’m America: fucking good work every poc and other who has been fighting their guts out for this, and stay strong and keep fighting!

    Greets from Sweden “the most enlighted country in the world”, with a racist party I’m congress and a neo-nazi group of hundreds running around beating pocs, WITH WIDESPREAD SUPPORT.

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