Others, understandably so, were shocked and upset at the people who didn't realize Rue was black. It says so on pp. 45 and 98 of the hardcover edition:
[p. 45] ...a twelve-year-old girl from District 11. She has dark brown skin and eyes, but other than that, she's very like Prim in size and demeanor.
[p. 98] ...the twelve-year-old, the one who reminded me so of Prim in stature. ...She has bright, dark eyes, and satiny brown skin...So, clearly, the first group was wrong. Rue is black in the book, and rightly so in the movie. To be upset about it (or to say it "ruined the movie," as at least one tweeter said) is not only ridiculous, but wholly and completely racist.
I have a confession, though: When I read the books, I thought Rue was white too.
Is that racist? It's certainly indicative of the white, privileged way I was brought up. People tend to visualize characters as like themselves, and none more than the privileged classes.*
Maybe I'm a bad reader. I do tend to skim descriptions a lot, especially if they aren't critical to the plot (e.g. Rue's skin color never affects plots events or Katniss' feelings for her, as opposed to say White Cat, in which the MC's skin color is part of a minor con toward the end).
But racist or not, when I saw that Rue was black, I didn't go, "What? That's ridiculous!" Instead, I thought, "Oh. How did I miss that in the book?"
This is part of how racism is solved, I think. I went back to the book and discovered I had skimmed over the "brown skin" part in favor of the part where Rue was "like Prim," thus making her like Prim in my head. Whether that was racist or not, I know to pay more attention in the future.
And here's the thing, all those people who tweeted their racist anger can learn too. Even though I understand how they missed the cue, I was pissed at the horrible things they said. But getting pissed doesn't solve anything.
At the end of the article, it mentions that most of those people have shut down their Twitter accounts or made them private. I assume I wasn't the only one pissed at them. I do hope they can see past the hate they received and learn from it, but I fear they won't.
Because people don't listen to words spat in hate. They just don't. If we want to fix racism, we do need to point these things out, but we need to keep our anger in check. If we don't, then we're as much a part of the problem as they are.
Racism isn't killing us. Hate is.
What do you think? How does this make you feel, and what can we do about it?
* For the record, I think the fact I missed Rue's skin color is racist in the subtle, subconscious sense. While I hope we solve that level of racism someday, I'm more interested in solving the part where people turn into seething rageballs of hate.