The Vampire Diaries: Too Many ‘Black Witches?’ I Think Not.

While reading a Top 10 list of the “worst things” about The Vampire Diaries compiled by BuddyTV, I came across the #7 item on the list, which read as follows:

The Bad #7 – Is Witchcraft Racist?

Bonnie, Luka, Jonas, Lucy, Bree, Grams and Emily are the only major recurring African-American characters on the show, and they are all witches. Not only that, but they are the only witches we’ve seen. It’s not necessarily racist, but it’s a little off-putting that every black character is a witch.

Excuse me?

As an African-American, I couldn’t help but feel a bit upset after reading that entry, because I personally don’t see what is “off-putting” about casting African-Americans as witches on the show. With the exception of Bree and the Martins, the other witches on the show have all been related to Bonnie, who just happens to be “black.” So it would make sense for the Bennett lineage, which includes Emily, Grams, Lucy, and Bonnie, to be black as well. Now, I’m not going to try and rationalize the producers reasoning for their casting choice for Bree and the Martin Warlocks, because I honestly don’t have an answer for that. However, I would like to know why this would be considered a ‘problem’, or most importantly, ‘racist.’

Don’t get me wrong. I, as well as other fans of The Vampire Diaries, have noticed that almost every African-American character who has waltzed into Mystic Falls are members of the Magically Inclined Coalition. We thought it was somewhat ironically funny when Damon’s old fling Bree (Gina Torres) was revealed to be a witch, especially since she wasn’t related to Bonnie. When the Martin Warlocks (Randy J. Goodwin and Bryton James) arrived this season, I received a lot of “Why are all the witches on TVD black?” on my Twitter account, but not in a hateful manner. In fact, none of the questions or comments I obtained ever used the words ‘racist’ or ‘off-putting’ in their queries on the subject. Maybe it’s because both words have very negative connotations behind them; a fact that can possibly explain why I’m a little perturbed about the TVD countdown in question. It’s just the use of the words ‘racist’ and ‘off-putting’ in this context could be considered the equivalent of yelling “Fire!” in a crowded public place. There’s nothing to be alarmed about, at least not to the extent to bring the word “racist” into the equation.

When I asked some friends about their thoughts on if TVD witches were being ‘racially profiled’ in a way, some said ‘no’ while others gave a resounding ‘yes’. One friend felt as if the producers were “typecasting” when it came to casting black people as witches on the show. I don’t see it that way. From my perspective, casting a black person as a witch on TVD isn’t necessarily typecasting, since there is no existing stereotype of black people being labeled as being witches. Actually, it is a rarity to see African-Americans dabbling in the dark arts, except in notable films such as “Eve’s Bayou”, “The Feast of All Saints”, and “The Skeleton Key” where magical African-Americans were prominent in the plots. Typecasting would be if the African-American residents of Mystic Falls were drug dealers and hip hop stars with no other basis than that. Then we would have a problem.

So from this (black) guy’s perspective, there isn’t anything wrong with the majority of the African Americans on The Vampire Diaries being witches. If we have to play that card, then I would have to pose the question of why is Gossip Girl without a prominent black Upper East Sider in it’s main cast? Sure, Vanessa is black, but you barely notice and fans (for some unknown reason) highly loathe her to the point that it might never crossed their minds to even wonder what her nationality is.

Note: I do not think the writer of the Buddy TV article, 20 and 10: The Good and the Bad of The Vampire Diaries, is racist in any shape, way, or form. In the article, the writer backed away from the ‘racist’ bit, but it was still left in the entry. This is just my opinion on his opinion.

Thoughts?

TV, movies, and writing are my life and I will combine the trinity till the day I die. I also am a budding filmmaker as well.
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25 thoughts on “The Vampire Diaries: Too Many ‘Black Witches?’ I Think Not.

  1. It's called white guilt. Someone is afraid that someone will think it's racist, and instead of just enjoying the characters, they try to make something sinister of it. It's embarrassing and it's why race relations are still not where they should be. People analyze everything and want it to have some deep meaning other than the fact that the actors and actresses just fit the part. I'm an avid TVD fan, and it never even crossed my mind. I just think they have a great cast. Silly me.

  2. I don't think there's a negative connotation to the witchcraft – especially because with the exception of the Martins, the witches on TVD have generally been "good." I have seen some discussion of the idea that Bonnie fits the antiquated "magical negro" trope – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_negro – in that her main purpose thus far has been to "help the white protagonist get out of trouble."

    In that way, the "typecasting" thing could be true.

  3. My take on it was that all the witches were distantly related to Bonnie and that's why they're all Black. How do we know that Bree and the Martins aren't distantly related to Bonnie? After like 320 years of family history, Bree and the Martins could be like 10th cousins or something to her.

  4. Clearly, the writers are making a choice to make most if not all of the African American characters witches and most if not all of the vampires white. Like a lot of vampire shows (True Blood), they're trying to use vampirism to talk about race or oppression – the problem (and racist thing, in my mind) is THEY'RE WIMPING OUT. Ok, you want to use witches/vampires to talk about race – do it! (They have all these flash backs to the civil war but never mention slavery?) More on this here, would love to get all your thoughts! http://storiesaregoodmedicine.blogspot.com/2010/1

  5. All the witches on the Vampire Diaries nationalities are mixed African American the writer at first said
    is prujudice. I think it is great that TVD casting have choosen such beautiful people of color on the show,
    that’s a plus.

  6. All the witches on the Vampire Diaries nationalities are mixed African American the writer at first said
    is prujudice. I think it is great that TVD casting have choosen such beautiful people of color on the show,
    that's a plus.

  7. I believe it is typecasting. Using the spiritual negro slave ancestor who uses her african magic to help the white oppressor when they are in trouble.  It is no coincident that all the black people are witches. Also any other black people that have been cast in the show are the main meals for the vampires if you watch closely. There is definetly undertones of a more insecure white racism.

  8. I'm not sure if my race counts for anything I'm about to say, but as a Caucasian teenage girl, I don't find it racist, and I see no racist elements in the show. I agree that most witches are related to Bonnie and if she is black, it only makes sense for her relatives to be black as well. However, in the books, there were no black characters that I can recall. Everyone was Caucasian with the exception of Meredith, who I think was hispanic. Her looks match TV Elena, not book Elena. Ignoring the books, where Bonnie was a ginger, I don't find it racist to cast Bonnie by a black actress or any of the other witches by black actors and actresses. Most of the cast is Caucasian from what I can tell, and definitely the majority of the main cast is, for sure. I think it's a good thing that the witches are generally black, because not only does it empower women (black or not), seeing as witches are independent and strong, but it gives black actresses a main part in the show. There are two main races in the show, and by that, I mean, humans and vampires. Now, add witches and werewolves. Most humans shown are white, same with the vampires. The werewolves are nearly extinct, but they all seem to be white as well. Witches are a prominent part, like vampires or humans, and are "more important" than werewolves, so I think that it's a good thing for most of them to be black. It shows that they're just as important as the white characters, and that they're just as common. It also shows that witches, while more vulnerable than vampires, can also be stronger than vampires. I think it shows equality and acceptance, not racism, and I don't find it off-putting at all. It makes me happy that witches are black, and strong, and independent, especially when we see black slaves like Harper. Black witches (and characters) show that slavery and racism are wrong, and that they can be overcome by strong and brave people. That's why I'm glad most witches are black. Because they've been given a main part on the show. Most shows have one black character, albeit a main one, and I think that it's good to have a variety. It makes it more real and accepting. This isn't the 50s. Racism and inequality are no longer tolerated. Skin color or ethnic backgrounds do NOT change character. Everyone is the same on the inside. I think that some people might consider it "racist" for witches to mainly be black only because they probably "relate" it to black ethnicities and voodoo, which I think might be a stereotype.

    • Ok…You're comment is very confusing or maybe I can't see pass the repetitiveness of your comment. Sounds to me like you're saying black people should be grateful that they get a part. People of all races should always be included in shows because now-a-days things need to be diverse. Instead of all the witches being black, how about all races being involved in the witch characters. Instead of all white people as the vamps and werewolves, how about a little variety. That, in my opinion, is the real issue.

  9. I do agree with the people here where it seems like Bonnie is only aiding white people and it makes it seem like she fits that trope, but you have to remember that she IS a person with feelings and she DOES want to help. Elena, Caroline, Matt, Stefan, Jeremy — they're Bonnie's friends. And in the books, white Bonnie did the same as black Bonnie does on the show, so I still don't find it racist. People are reading too far into skin colour; Bonnie's a human being, and she is good, and she wants to help — that's all that should matter.

  10. And I hate to add more, but if no one paid attention, Bonnie has been shown to be the most racist person — against vampires. Human, vampire, witch, werewolf — those are the races that matter, not black, white, or whatever.

  11. It's a stereotype called "the magical negro" Also, all but two of these witches end up dead.

    So you have a bunch of black witches serving white vampires for reasons yet unknown and then ending up dead for it.

    • They aren't for "reasons yet unknown"..Bonnie helps Elena because that's her best friend, her "sister" that's reason enough. The Martin witches helped Elijah because Claus had their Daughter/Sister. They were trying to get her back and Elijah wanted Claus dead as much as they did at the time. They were working together, not for each other. I swear black people are so quick to scream racists or prejudice. It seems like no matter what type of role you put a black person in it has to be racist or wrong. You put a black person as a very successful business person and it becomes "Unrealistic" or "Sucking up to white people" a black person going through hard times and poor then it's "Making black people look bad". Get a grip.

      • Sorry, once your family members start dying being a "friend" is no longer enough. They are NOT sisters.
        This still doesn't explain the CONSTANT trope of black witches serving white vampires when the witches are powerful enough on their own to not serve anyone.

        And you know why black people are so quick to scream racism? BECAUSE WE HAVE INTIMATE EXPERIENCE AND WE KNOW WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE.

  12. Okay the witch on the show are black but the vampires on the show are white, also in recent episodes of vampire diaries it is shown that the original witch is white and the mother of the original vampires.

  13. It drives me SO crazy how people are always saying black people are always scream racism! Have you not taken a history class, seen movies where slavery is an every day norm,or clearly see how racism effects our every day life? Truth is, black people were tortured, beat, raped, killed, and mentally abused just because their skin was dark. That is why black people are quick to scream racism. Because it's happened before and racism still, very much so, exists today. But apparently people think that it has just vanished and they are sadly mistaken. On the subject on all the witches being black on TVD, I wouldn't exactly call it racism but it is very questionable. And I know that some of the witches are related to Bonnie but not all of them are. Now when I watch the show and I see a black person, I automatically think they're witches. So racist? No. But this part of the show needs to be altered. We need diversity!

  14. the show is only trying to stick with the Salem Witch Trial beliefs… idk if you guys have seen the movies The Crucible but they had an African/American woman playing Tituba (an African slave) who practiced voodoo… this is because voodoo originated from Africa voodoo was the same idea as witch craft in the early settlers that fallowed christian beliefs… all the show is trying to insinuate is that only African descent can have such strong magical powers so before in to something like this learn some background history

  15. I don't think they are being racist by casting all of the witches as black but there is a certain racial quota shows have to meet when it comes to minorities. This is why you see sprinkles of black people, sometimes asian, and your occasional pretend latina. I agree with the comment about voodoo, but why not explain it? And of course it's typecasting. Drug dealers and thugs aren't the only roles you can pigeonhole a black person in. It's just that when you talk about early settlement times, the typecasting shifts to slave or voodoo priest (i.e. witch). I understand that they're not being racist but it seems like every witch introduced (aside from bonnie's family) just happens to be a witch. This was a creative choice, they didn't have to make the black characters witches, they could have kept bonnie a ginger and cast a black actress to be caroline. Instead they chose to go in a whole different direction and said hey let's make every prominent witch black. And i'm sure there's a good reason for it, but to discuss it on the show would not be politically correct. Imagine elena asking bonnie, "hey i've noticed you're all black. what's up with that?" That would not go over well with anyone. They continued however to use black actors which leaves everyone with all of these doubts and questions. Is it racist? I doubt it.

  16. I just want to say that I ♥ TVD. I am a Black American, 21 years of age. I haven't been persecuted racially, but I know that racism still exists. I do believe that people are over analyzing this topic way to much, and I do think that Black people pay the race card to much! Bonnie is a supportive friend, but she is a powerful witch. Witches in this show have more power then we think. Esther-Klaus' mom created vampires is a prime example this displays a witch's power. I do think that there should be more diversity, but if actors of diverse backgrounds don't audition for a part in the show, how can the producers be racially insensitive? Anyways, the only problem that I have with the show is that the witches are usually killed off; I mean seriously WTF?

  17. I don’t understand how evey witch on the show has been black since the introduction of witches to TVD but the “original” witch is white? I also don’t understandwhy all of the black characters are “transient” except for Bonnie? If a black character shows up in Mystic Falls trust and believe their time is short.

  18. It actually makes sense. The Bennets came from the Salem witches and a lot of the witches there were supposedly black. By that I mean a lot of slaves took the blame for what the young girls were doing. If you want to go further back Klaus and his family have been controlling just about everything in their favor. They are constantly manipulating witches and making them their servants. Now if you were doing this and most witches were a certain race (there ARE white witches in the show) It would just make things easier if the world accepted that race as slaves. You could openly treat some poor black girl witch like dirt in the open without anyone giving you a second glance.

  19. I think there are a few things you don’t understand.
    First, despite what some here claim, there is no hint that all these witches are related. Second, nearly every black person on the show with more than a sideline role was a witch and nearly all witches are black. There are only two (arguably three if you count Lucy) non-black witches. One was a guy who had a sideline role, and therefore is rather a token and easily forgotten, and the other is the witch Esther, the mother of the first vampires. And it is clear that Esther was on a whole different powerlevel than the black witches.
    Also despite all this “balance” and “servants of nature” stuff that got repeated in the show a few times, no witch was ever shown to fulfill that role. They were in always in one way or another a servant to someone and that master of their’s was always a white person, in most cases a white vampire, something that should be anathema to them.
    Also in contrast to the white characters, no black character ever had a dignified death, they all had brutal and pointless deaths, no exception whatsoever.
    As a matter of fact, so far there are only 3-5 black people who had more than a passing role who are still alive and even that is arguable. It would only be 5 if you count Lucy as black (a character whom we never saw again despite being directly related to Bonnie [a cousin in fact]) and the other is Bonnie’s mother, who is now a vampire and therefore not technically alive anymore. The other three are Bonnie, her stepbrother Jamie (who for some reason had to be a love interest, who has now disappeared) and a witch from the episode “We will always have Borboun Street”, but that episode aired on 06Dec2012, so she might still die.
    As a matter of fact many witches died for no apparent reason. The first non-Bennet witch was a woman named Bree. She saw Damon in front of her and didn’t even defend herself. The two warlocks Jona and Luka, got killed as well and especially Jona was killed far too easily. The next would be the witch Gloria, who was portrayed as sooooo powerful but got easily killed by Katherine. In this season it was the hunter Connor who was shown to be very smart and dangerous, having killed many vampires and hybrids, but he got simply killed by Elena, the greenest and weakest vampire of them all.
    Also in season 1 and early season 2 Bonnie was the only character who confronted Damon and stood up to him and now she is only a tool and a bad plot device.
    Do you really think that is a coincidence?

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