Anyway people keep asking me for reasons why I like non-white Percy so much and. I mean, aside from all the already compelling arguments that we need representation desperately, and we could always use more series with well-developed non-white protagonists that don’t have racist tropes applied to them. (those reasons alone should be enough.)
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
In this case, Percy being a person of color would add a new dimension to the plot, the character, how the world interacts with him, and how he interacts with the world.
1. He is automatically branded as a “troubled kid” right off the bat, before people even meet him.
Reread that, and then ask yourself if you know any white kids with this problem. That’s what I thought.
However, if he’s not white, not only is this believable, but it’s actually the expected outcome.
Now, I guess if you saw a white kid with this intense brooding expression like Percy is supposed to have, maybe your guard would go up. And I know he’s got authority problems. But this isn’t something that he can modify or adapt to; it happens without him realizing it, without him being able to control it, regardless of how he tries to behave better, and it happens on a regular basis.
I’m sick of seeing common poc problems applied to white characters by doing a bunch of buildup to make it seem believable, when all you really need to do is make the character not white. White kids have no idea what it feels like to be judged that way, so the audience this would really speak to is non-white kids. (don’t come at me listing white kids who get judged this way, because i promise you, every single one of them has the option to change it if they stop acting a certain way. non-white kids don’t get that option, because it’s based on their skin, not their behavior.)
2. The Mist and the media work against him.
Here’s the thing: it’s really hard to convince people that a white kid is a criminal. It’s really easy to convince people that a black or brown kid is a criminal. The media is so quick to exploit (and create) this problem.
There’s a lot of quotes about how the Mist works by conforming to what people expect to see. And when the vast majority of people see a person of color at a crime scene, they assume they’re the criminal. While as when they see a white person at a crime scene, they assume they’re the victim. So if Percy isn’t white, it makes sense that the Mist would work against him.
The way the entire nation turns against him and starts hunting him down in Lightning Thief is eerily reminiscent of how brown and black boys are treated by law enforcement and how the media runs rampant with the stories. The way they begin digging up dirt on his past and branding him as a suspect, despite the fact that he is also missing, there’s no evidence that he did anything wrong, and they have every reason to think he is the victim, is exactly the way the media treats countless black and brown victims.
People are ready to believe he killed his own mother because he got expelled from school several times, despite having no history of any homicidal tendencies at all. I promise you, if something like this really happened to a white kid, there’d be dozens of articles of people tearfully talking about how he was bullied in school and he adored his mother and this couldn’t have happened, it just can’t be. Furthermore: they media gives Annabeth and Grover the benefit of the doubt, because Annabeth and Grover are white.
“Who are the other children in this photo?” Barabara Walters asked dramatically. “Who is the man with them? Is Percy Jackson a delinquent, a terrorist, or perhaps the brainwashed victim of a frightening new cult?”
She calls them “children” and Ares a “man” while she calls Percy a delinquent, a terrorist, or, maybe, if she’s feeling a little inkling to not be completely racist today, maybe he might be a brainwashed victim. He’s obviously not innocent, so if by some miracle he happens to be a victim, he’s obviously got to be brainwashed. Also: have you ever heard anyone use the word “terrorist” about a white person like… it just doesn’t happen.
Think about how crazy this is! Percy is a child, seen standing next to a full grown man who looks like a ripped biker, and people are talking about him as though he is the criminal! That could only happen to a brown or black kid, like, I’m sorry, that’s just how the American media works.
And of course, it would definitely make sense that people would readily believe Percy attacked a cheerleader and set a school on fire.
3. This quote
“A gang of kids had circled us. Six of them in all – white kids with expensive clothes and mean faces. Like the kids at Yancy Academy: rich brats playing at being bad boys.”
The fact that he adds, “white”…. I mean, yeah, a white kid could have said this quote (a white writer wrote it, after all), but it makes more sense coming from a kid who isn’t white. We know Percy comes from a poor background and that’s definitely the reason he’s so turned off by how they’re rich and pretending to be street kids, so why wouldn’t it also make sense for him to come from a brown or black background and that’s why he’s so turned off by how they’re white and pretending to be street kids?
Answer: it does make sense. It makes perfect sense.