listen….. regarding the matter of the illyrians being POC, in my mind, they absolutely are. But here’s the thing: readers in this culture assume white is the default. Unless the author is ***extremely specific*** in indicating otherwise, most readers are going to assume a character is white. And that sucks, and I think we should all be working to dismantle that assumption, but that’s how this works. It is the responsibility of any author who gives a half of a shit about representation to know this and to work with it.
“Tanned” is not ***extremely specific***enough. Even though I, and many other people, choose to read them as such, “tanned” does not good POC rep make. It just doesn’t. There are an endless number of other, less ambiguous ways that Maas could have indicated we were meant to read them as nonwhite, and she chose not to use them. If “Tanned” was truly sufficient as an indicator, we wouldn’t have all these fancasts with Az and Cas as white dudes. Like, listen, yes, we need to have those conversations in fandom and educate each other, but ultimately, blaming the people who read them as white won’t get us anywhere. Blame the work, which, whether it meant to be or not, was ambiguous enough to allow it.
Listen, I love these books, but Maas has a fucking abysmal diversity track record. I am going to HC Amren as a WOC and the Illyrians as Middle Eastern and I am going to hold the authors I read to a high standard re: diversity and acknowledge that Maas using the word “tanned” doesn’t meet it.
(i’m white as hell, so let me know if i’ve stepped out of line here, but rep in literature is something i feel strongly about and Ambiguously Tan just doesn’t cut it in the year of our lord 2k17)