Editor's Note: The following piece was written by ita as a response to the disturbing trend in genre television of portraying people of color as two-dimensional sidekicks with either figurative or literal superpowers, like in Vampire Diaries, instead of portraying them as fully-realized characters.
Look to your left. Look to your right. How are those darkies doing? Are they in any way remarkable? Almost as remarkable as you are? You have a problem, after all, a quest, a deed that needs doing, and those coloured people—they have skills that not only help you on the way to solving this problem, but they help you become the best person that you can be as you do so.
On your journey, you're going to be a better person for having said Negroes at your side.
Then why am I calling them Magical Negroes? Why aren't they just people?
Because if you can't answer the first few questions, but have a resounding yes for the latter, you may have a Magical Negro on your hands. Now, we're talking science fiction and fantasy. There's magic everywhere you turn. It would be silly to suggest that every time a non-white character handled magic they fulfilled the sketchy stereotype of the Magical Negro.
Why doesn’t this look like your life, you might reasonably ask? Well, your life doesn’t have laser guns or magic bags of holding. No? That’s not what you meant? Oh, why doesn’t the racial breakdown look like your life? I mean, in fact, you could be non-white and reading this article, and that’s not reflected on TV.
So, until a real tomorrow or when Tyler Perry does more sci fi than just appearing in Star Trek, we assess the strength and viability of best friends of colour. Next year, I’d like this piece to be about protagonists.
Zoe Washburne, stand up and brace your shotgun. Tia Dalma, stand up and wield your magic. Wave that scalpel, Alison Blake. Alec Hardison, hack away. Guinan, sit down. Elosha, sit down. Usutu, sit the hell down. EVERY BLACK PERSON IN MYSTIC FALLS, VA PLEASE LEAVE THE ROOM.
Real black people got some work to do.