A Doll Made of Black Porcelain: Concrete consequences of whitewashing and racism in Epic Fantasy fandoms
A doll made of black porcelain. This is how Robert Jordan repeatedly, vocally, constantly describes the character Tuon in his epic fantasy series, The Wheel of Time. It made me giggle because it seems exhaustive, but his books are famous for their exhaustive descriptions of characters, settings, furniture, et cetera. It reminds me a LOT of this post:
I may have thought this was amusing until I saw this on DeviantArt:
Yeah….the bald one’s supposed to be Tuon, a.k.a. Fortunona Athaem Devi Paendrag.
And then, I saw the comments:
[Heavens-Earth: “I know it’s a little late, but i found out six months ago that Tuon is supposed to be Black. So is Semhirage. :)”)
Gala-Maia: “No Tuon is not black, she has a dark color only, Semhirage is black!”]
Tuon is an important and pivotal character in the main story of the novels, as well as being in a relationship with another main character. She is small in stature but probably the smartest character in any of the books, and also has incredible political power.
Semhirage, another black character, is one of the Forsaken who embodies not only the most ancient essence of evil, but was made famous for having once tortured an entire city of people to death.
This is what the relentless depiction of dark/black=evil and white/light=good in Epic fantasy fiction does.
Compared to Tuon’s presence in the books, which is much greater than Semhirage’s, it is relatively easi(er) to “miss” the fact that she is Black, theoretically.
Tuon is described in detail every time she appears, because she is a main character. She is in fact described much like “her skin is black because she is black”, as in the chat post above. Missing EVERY single line like “her nearly black hand against his” or “a smile on her dark, beautiful face” or DOING A BASIC SEARCH FOR “TUON” ON DEVIANT ART:
Like, I have now officially given every single last benefit of the doubt I may have had remaining in some dusty corner. White people in this fandom have an extremely vested interest in whitewashing the fuck out of this genre whenever possible.