So I have thoughts about Hermione.
On black Hermione.
It’s kind of an excellent thing to think about. The Wizarding World, to me, seems to be kind of ahead of the times in skin-color based racism, though they replace it easily enough with blood based racism. The Muggle world, however, sucks.
Imagine little Hermione, coming from a world where her parents, despite being successful and productive members of society, get looks in the street. Where her father, when he doesn’t bother to change out of his sweatpants when he takes her to the grocery store gets looks from indignant mothers, gets followed and watched by workers, has people clutching their wallets with white fingers as he walks by.
Imagine little Hermione, asking her parents why, because let’s be real, she’s the most curious seven-year-old who has ever walked this Earth and her parents just look at each other. They try to explain. “They feel like we’re different from them. Some people don’t understand people who are different, many don’t even try to. Sometimes people are cruel because you look different from them, and it’s not right, but the only thing that we can do is try to change that.”
Imagine little Hermione reading and studying to try to make herself better, to try to prove to the bigots in the world that she is as good as they are. Because little girls still look at black dolls and white dolls and say that the white one is smarter, that the white one is prettier.
Imagine little Hermione with her dark bushy hair and overbite feeling like she can never be pretty, despite what her parents tell her, so she works to be smart.
Imagine Hermione, at eleven, entering Diagon Alley with her parents and Professor McGonagall, and she thinks that maybe she could finally escape to a different world, one that accepts her.
Imagine Hermione getting onto the Hogwarts Express, waving an only slightly tearful goodbye to her parents as they train pulls away, but with a heart full of hope. Nobody looks at her like she’s different. Nobody looks at her like she’s lesser. And she sits with a shy, clumsy boy named Neville and he stutters an introduction before realizing that his toad has disappeared. And she helps him to look and she feels the hope blossoming in her chest because maybe here, in this new world she can have friends.
Imagine Hermione and how happy she is to make friends, even if it took a dangerous situation for it to happen. And she is fiercely protective of them, fiercely loyal to them.
Imagine Hermione the first time that she hears the word Mudblood whispered in the girls’ toilet on the first floor while she sat in a stall, keeping still and silent. She doesn’t know what it means exactly, but she understands enough.
Imagine Hermione realizing that racism isn’t only skin deep, that it isn’t only Muggles that spit it out like venom, that it isn’t only Muggles that have to figure out some way to overcome it, to find their antidote.
Imagine Hermione, an adult now, fighting her war not only in the Wizarding World, but in the Muggle one, picketing and marching and protesting. She gets thrown in jail once or twice, for disturbing the peace. And she could apparate away before they could get her in the mass, of course, but that isn’t how she fights. She stays until the end. Because she moved from one world into a magical one only to find that magic doesn’t fix people.
On Jewish Hermione.
She’s always been the before pictures when it comes to makeovers. From frizzy, curly hair to straight and smooth. From too pale skin with that olive undertone to a sun-kissed spray tan. Brown eyes are not the eyes of princesses. Hooked noses do not appear on model’s faces.
She was always a reader, though, and the first in her Hebrew School class to understand all of the symbols that the rest of her schoolmates found foreign.
When she left for Hogwarts, her parents worried. Would she be okay so far from home? How would she keep Kosher? What about the Shabbat? What about her Bat Mitzvah?
Hermione, however, was not concerned. At Hogwarts she was different, and that was okay. There were times when she felt lost, but never from her culture, from her faith. She fasted for Yom Kippur and feasted on honey and apples on Rosh Hashanah. On the first night of Hanukkah, before the Christmas holidays started, latkes appeared on her plate and she lit the menorah alone in her room.
Once she learned where the kitchens were, she went there sometimes, especially during Passover. Even the house-elves were a bit distressed by their limits then, so she made matzah brei herself. She and Anthony Goldstein exchanged recipes.
While the other students sang Christmas Carols and hunted for Easter Eggs, she said her prayers and practiced her Hebrew and learned her Torah portion almost entirely without help. And when she returned home for the summer after her third year she easily completed her mitzvah because she wanted to help people. (And organizing that clothing drive helped her immensely to start SPEW the next year.)
Hermione never lost her faith, but she learned that it was not the only thing that made her special. She had magic and bravery and she could almost ride a broomstick sometimes if she really wanted to and she was the youngest Department Head ever at the Ministry until Harry took her title, even though she was first.
And when she married Ron she made sure that he smashed a glass goblet (and her family, small though it was, yelled a “Mazel tov!” that shamed even the Weasleys in volume). And when they danced the hora, Hermione laughed at Ron’s very vocal distress as well as his white-knuckled grip (despite hers being quite similar).
Rose and Hugo did not go to Hebrew school, though they did attend the Seder and learn the prayers and play dreidel over the Christmas holidays, taking as much joy in lighting the Menorah as they did in putting lights on the Christmas tree.
And when they first moved out, Hermione made sure that each of them had a Mezuzah for their front door.