Rachel Rostad’s 2013 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational performance piece, “To JK Rowling, from Cho Chang,” was an indictment of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series; specifically charging her with tokenism, of adding minor characters like Cho Chang and Lee Jordan without giving them the same depth other characters got, in order to create the appearance of diversity without actually including any. It is a personal, impassioned performance, rather than a strictly cerebral approach, which gives it immediacy and accessibility. This isn’t just a discussion of structural biases, some lecture or intellectual analysis; this is someone who rightfully has feelings that stem from the text.
Being able to critique things that you enjoy is an important skill for anyone, regardless of media. True to form, Rostad has posted a follow-up video, in which she addresses some of the concerns people had about her poem. Her handling of criticism serves a dual purpose; it is both thoughtful on its own merits, and it underscores how others should be accepting of analysis and critique. What do you think about Rowling’s handling of the subject, and of Rostad’s poem on the subject?