Dear Amazon Prime, I’m Not a Racist, But Why Are You Destroying My Precious Middle-Earth With Black Hobbits?

Actor Lenny Henry as Harfoot Elder Sadoc Burrows. Image: Amazon Prime

Dear Amazon Prime,*

As a loyal customer I’m appalled at your latest WOKE stunt and have some questions for you before I cut to the chase.

I’ve been watching the new Rings of Power series based on the works of Professor JRR Tolkien who was a medievalist, philologist, and fantasy author of The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and other works. Let me explain why your casting choices in this latest series are WRONG.

I’m an amateur historian, well-versed in the Middle-earthian universe, and I believe that these works are based on European folklore. This folklore is rooted in European history, and we all know that Europe has always been white. Sirs, I am a patriot. Why are you changing history and including Black hobbits in this fantasy story that I have loved and imagined as presumptively all-white since I first read these works in 1979? You are literally destroying my childhood.

As far as I know, Tolkien never had any good non-white characters in his books. You have Brown-washed a beloved fantasy that I have mistaken to be part of my “culture” and heritage. I am exhausted. I rage-tweeted about Black hobbits for 12 solid hours and found it hard to get up for work the next morning. And I’ll do it again for as long as it takeseven if I end up with an ulcer and it makes my carpal tunnel syndrome worse.

There is too much Black- and Brown-washing for a fantasy world based on ancient European history. You’ve ruined Middle-earth by adding things that don’t belong! Where does Tolkien ever say that hobbits are white or Brown? Look, I’ve read these works for decades, and I would know if Tolkien ever wrote** something like the following about a hobbit such as Sam Gamgeeor even the largest group of Hobbits, the Harfoots:

“Sam sat propped against the stone, his head dropping sideways and his breathing heavy. In his lap lay Frodo’s head, drowned deep in sleep; upon his white forehead lay one of Sam’s brown hands, and the other lay softly upon his master’s breast.” [Twin Towers: The Stairs of Cirith Ungol]

“Sam drew out the elven-glass of Galadriel again. As if to do honor to his hardihood, and to grace with splendor his faithful brown hobbit-hand that had done such deeds, the phial blazed forth suddenly, so that all the shadowy court was lit with a dazzling radiance like lightning.” [Return of the King: The Tower of Cirith Ungol]

“The Harfoots were browner of skin, smaller, and shorter, and they were beardless and bootless…” [Fellowship of the Ring: Prologue]

Any reference to “brown hands” and such was because gardeners were out in the sun! Ever heard of a TAN? Surely Tolkien couldn’t be drawing on his misunderstanding of Old English translations of melanin-rich folks as “sun-burned.” The notion of “othering” in his fantasy works being consistent with how he explained the dark hue of Black people in his academic work is RIDICULOUS! GET A GRIP!

Look, I know he loved old languages and drew on Old English and Old Norse in his works. Part of his brilliance is in how he masterfully plays with old languages, but you can’t put things in the show that Tolkien wouldn’t have wanted. The Norse were Vikings and we all know they were white and a proud people. Some lib told me the term ‘Viking’ was a profession. Who even believes that? My last name is Debutante-Baker, and I’m whiter than a ghost trying to hide in front of the White House walls. But I’ll be damned if someone doesn’t believe I have rich flour in my blood. Us Angles and Saxons and Vikings are being erased, and you, Amazon Prime, are part of this genocide.

Let’s be real. We all know that Europe has always been all white, especially up north where my ancestors are from. I’m descended from Angles and Saxons. You might have once called me an “Anglo-Saxon,” but a bunch of woke vipers of the academy have rightly pointed out that the term is inaccurate, anchored in colonialist baggage and that there is no evidence of it being used in the 1st person in pre-conquest English records. Don’t try me. I’m white. 

In fact, I’m probably what Tolkien describes as “bright” or “light” and “fair”like he does with characters like Queen Tar-Miriel. Tolkien uses three adjectives to describe her as white when he says that she “was a woman of great beauty, smaller than were most women of that land, with bright eyes,” and that she was “fairer than silver or ivory or pearls”! 

I’m fully aware that the Old English word “beorht” means “bright,” “of color,” “righteous,” and even “wise.” I also know that “leoht” means “light” and “luminary”; and that “fair”or “faeger” in Old Englishmeans “beautiful” or “attractive.” Although none of these descriptions means “white” I have it in my alabastarian head-canon that these adjectives mean white. Point is, lefties are removing white people from the story.

We all know that the long list of Black and Brown people who were called to be part of Europe through migration and settlementsthose who exchanged ideas, fought alongside with and against and mixed with other peoplesDO NOT COUNT. Why? Because in my head Europe has always been white. Who literally cares about archeological evidence? Sure those Black and Brown people were real, but they were such a small minority that they barely made an impact

I mean, the 7th-century abbot Hadriandescribed by the 8th-century English monk Bede as “a man of African racecame to England, helped establish the Church of England, changed the cultural trajectory of England and had an impact on the rest of Europe forever. Big deal, I changed my car battery last weekend, where’s my wiki page? 

The fact that the 13th-century English Domesday Book has a literal depiction of an average medieval Black man drawn into the manuscript doesn’t mean a thing! Why are you going against my white-washed and inaccurate views of history? Let’s stick to my opinions and my misunderstanding of history please.

Why have you added Black characters to a bunch of stories based on European history? It just doesn’t add up. Tolkien’s beloved books are anchored in English and Viking history. You know those Riddles in the Dark, the fifth chapter of The Hobbit in which Bilbo and Gollum challenge one another to a series of riddles? Do you have any idea that he borrowed that from an Old English riddling tradition? Does it truly matter that the aforementioned Hadrian had brought the whole riddling tradition to pre-Conquest England from Africa? You disgust me.

Tolkien was a man of his time. He had probably never seen a Black or Brown person until 1972. In fact, he’s likely turning in his grave at how WOKE these new adaptations are given that he famously said in a 1959 Valedictory Address at the University of Oxford that:

I have the hatred of apartheid in my bones; and most of all I detest the segregation or separation of Language and Literature. I do not care which of them you think white.”

Nice try, lefties. Don’t tell me my default is whiteness. My son’s best friend has a Black maid—sorry, “housekeeper.”

This Black and Brown-washing must end. I’m all for diversity. The elvish Queen Galadriel is a great example of diversity. She’s a woman! But Elon Musk was right,  “Almost every male character so far is a coward, a jerk or both.” (With the exception, that is, of Finrod, Thondir, Elrond, Gil-galad, Arondir, Médhor, Revion, Halbrand, Elendil, Isildur, and maybemaybe—one or two or three others.) But to think that Tolkien would want Black and Brown people to be in his fantasy world is preposterous.

I’m so angry that you’ve gone against the wishes of people whose default for fantasy, folklore, and history is white. Do you really take me for a bell-end?

You’re doing a disservice by adapting Tolkien’s well-loved works in light of closer and more accurate readings of the texts.

I’m not racist but this is outrageous. I’m standing up for my culture… within Middle-earth.

What next? Gay elves? Gimme a break.

Cancel my subscription immediately.


Charles Hunter Ulysses Debutante-Baker

*As a scholar of Old English literature and early medieval history with an academic pedigree that links my training directly back to Professor J.R.R. Tolkien, I often come across laypeople who overlook subtleties about his fantasy works that are more evident to medievalists. Some angry Lord of the Rings fans are very sour about Tolkien’s fantasy world being depicted in more diverse (read as less white) ways than they want, and this is often connected to their misunderstandings of how diverse the European Middle Ages was. Given that some angry laypeople’s proof is mostly vibes and not facts, I’ve written a template with linked evidence that they can use to send to Amazon.

**LotR quotes taken from JRR Tolkien’s The Two Towers. Glasgow: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997, Return of the King. Glasgow: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997, and Fellowship of the Ring. Glasgow: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997.

*** Special thanks to Drs Erik Wade, Ambereen Dadabhoy, Sunny Singh, and Mira Assaf Kafantaris for additional feedback.