Word in Black: Prof. Copeland Discusses Race Bending & White Replacement Theory

a movie set

As more entertainment programs cast actors of color in roles that were previously white-depicted fictional characters, a practice commonly known as “race bending,” debate has grown around whether this practice is anti-white. BU School of Social Work Prof. Phillipe Copeland wrote an op-ed for Word in Black explaining the ties these arguments have to White Replacement Theory (WRT). Understanding that the backlash against race bending is founded in a white supremacist fear can help anti-racists discuss and counter these criticisms.

Excerpt from “Fear of a Black Hobbit” by Phillipe Copeland:

quotation markPopular culture is a battleground where the contest between racism and antiracism is being waged. The stories we create and consume shape who we are and the futures possible for us. Understanding what gets some so upset about Black hobbits can help us address the deeper issues involved. 

One way of understanding negative reactions to race bending on screen is that it is connected to a broader backlash against social change considered ‘anti-white’

An extreme version of this phenomenon is described as ‘White replacement theory’ (WRT). 

Jason Stanley and Federico Finchelstein describe the forms WRT has taken historically and its influence on current events in the United States and globally. This includes the racist political violence of recent years.

… Most of the people criticizing race-bending gods, hobbits, or mermaids have likely never heard of WRT. Yet, many of their comments could have been lifted straight from the pages of WRT literature.”

Read the full article.

Learn More about Prof. Copeland’s Research