Okay, the one thing I question about the Lightwoods being mixed-race is…I feel like a lot of their characters, as people, came from their privilege. Part of the divide between Alec and Magnus was that Alec comes from this place of safety that Magnus doesn’t have, either as a POC or as a warlock. They both [Alec and Isabelle] begin the series with a very…superior attitude, I want to say.
And I know that part of that is just being raised as Shadowhunters, an elitist group who view themselves as above mundanes and the Downworld races. But I feel that, beyond the obvious racism allegories inherent in fantasy racism, actual racism factored into these books. Skin color intersected with…species, for lack of a better word, creating a world where, much like the real one, it is possible to be privileged and marginalized at the same time and in multiple ways.
I don’t feel that being white is important to Simon’s or Luke’s characters the way I feel it was important for Alec and Isabelle, because I feel like they were much more prejudiced and ignorant when we first meet them; I feel it’s more a flaw of theirs. It’s something that, I felt, they had to work on over the course of the books.
I guess what I’m saying is, if you can chalk up their arrogance and emotional disconnect from what is Other to them to being Shadowhunters, then I guess it won’t really matter what their race is so much. But I feel like, by default, mixed-race Alec and Isabelle would have more empathy from the start than otherwise, because they would lose a lot of the privileges society grants you when you’re white.
I feel like watching them grow from emotionally stunted, ignorant people, who view the world from a place of safety and privilege, to more conscientious, respectful, decent human beings, was a very important part of their individual arcs.
Especially after reading The Bane Chronicles and seeing how insecure Magnus was about his feelings toward Alec…Always thinking that Alec wasn’t serious, couldn’t possibly like him the same way, essentially working his hardest to prepare for disappointment…Magnus wanted to feel valued, as a whole person; he didn’t want to be some disgusting secret Alec had to hide and would throw away as convenience dictated. He kept worrying that Alec only went for him because he couldn’t have Jace.
And I have to wonder if Magnus wouldn’t have felt on more equal ground with Jace, even slightly, had Jace also not been white. I have to wonder if his secret fear of not being desirable to someone he wanted wasn’t exacerbated, wasn’t compounded and made worse by the fact that he was both a POC and a warlock, doubly marginalized and facing twice the prejudice. Like, if you’re not being stereotyped as, say, untrustworthy, for one reason it’s for the other.
Common sense, to me, says that a white person would have a harder time empathizing with the racism against Downworlders. Whereas shouldn’t a mixed-race person have more perspective, and therefore be more likely to consider it? I feel like an Alec who’s not white should be less oblivious to Magnus’s needs, and more capable of understanding why hiding the relationship from everyone would bother Magnus. I feel like being mixed-race would give Alec a perspective he doesn’t have, a lens from which to view the world more complexly from the get-go. I feel like, by necessity, it would dilute Alec’s ignorance, the overcoming of which is a big part of his arc, no?
I’m not saying that POC can’t be racist towards each other, or have their own complicated ingrained prejudices and problematic internalized views. And I do understand that, according to Cassandra Clare, the matter of race is treated differently by Shadowhunters, viewed differently from mundanes. But since the books are still told, primarily, from the viewpoint of white Shadowhunters, I haven’t really been able to grasp how they’re supposed to differ. Apart from Jem, haven’t all the main POCs been Downworlders? The ones I can name off the top of my head are, anyway.
So my main concern about Alec and Isabelle not being white is…Well…I honestly think it would change their view of the world; it would change how they react to it. And wouldn’t that change them? I feel like, if they’re not white, it’s less realistic for them to be so emotionally stunted [at the start]. I’m not saying POC can’t be flawed or problematic people, but I feel like because POC are subjected to different experiences than white people, and have different viewpoints, even if both a POC and a white person are ignorant, their ignorance comes from different places and functions in different ways.
So, I guess what I’m wondering is…If Alec and Isabelle aren’t white and live in a white-majority state in a white-majority nation, do you think they’d be any less haughty or arrogant? Would they still be as unable to sympathize with people who don’t come from a place of safety and privilege in the world? Would their experience as people of color, particularly as children of a mixed-race family, influence their viewpoint on racism towards Downworlders at all?
That’s all I really want to know, because that’s the only concern I have. Would the intersection of these two facets to their identities alter how they think, how they perceive things, and how they act in consequence of that? Do you think their personalities would be much changed?
Simon’s Jewish, Luke’s a Shadowhunter-turned-Downworlder. I don’t think them being POC would affect their worldview all that much, because racism goes hand-in-hand with Antisemitism; and Luke has been a Downworlder for years by the time of his introduction, so he’s gained a lot of empathy the Luke who joined the Circle didn’t have. I’m not questioning their casting because I don’t feel like overcoming ingrained bigotry was such a part of their characters. I’m only questioning Alec and Isabelle’s because I wonder if being mixed-race would affect their privileged outlooks (and thus a lot of Alec’s problems with Magnus) at all.
So…If you’re out there, TMI fandom. Could anyone offer me some perspective? Do you think Alec and Isabelle not being white affects their characters? Like, specifically whether it’ll affect their view of racism towards Downworlders? Do you think it’ll change anything about how Alec and Magnus interact? (I am really wondering about that, how having both of them now be mixed-race POC would affect their relationship…If at all.)
I don’t…mind, per se, that they aren’t going to be white. But since I feel like being bigoted towards Downworlders was a huge flaw of theirs, I guess I was wondering if their being made POC would alter things at all. I mean, would they be any less privileged, act any less high-falutin than Jace would, now that they’re not white? Does it affect their arrogant attitudes at all, their privileged outlooks? Do you think POC Shadowhunters are less privileged than white Shadowhunters? Will it fundamentally change anything about their characters, how they think and act?
What do you think?