On the Hunger Games trilogy

Race, Ethnicity, and Culture in Panem

By V. Arrow

“[Gale] could be my brother. Straight black hair, olive skin, we even have the same gray eyes. But we’re not related, at least not closely . . . That’s why my mother and Prim, with their light hair and blue eyes, always look out of place. They are. My mother’s parents were part of the small merchant class”THG8

The question of race in the Seam is the subject of a long, bitter, multifold debate within the Hunger Games fandom. Because Katniss’ racial make-up is intentionally vague, those who believe that she is white, those who believe that she is categorically any race except white, and those who believe she is biracial can, and do, claim ownership of Katniss and the rest of the Seam. They often support their belief in her racial make-up by citing personal experience–“I’m Portuguese and have olive skin, but I’m definitely white,” “I’m biracial and I look like Katniss but my sister looks like Rue,” “I always saw Katniss as Native American, like me.” The internet is flooded with posts–some undeniably racist to anyone’s understanding and some more subtly informed by cultural conditioning–that argue all sides of the issue.

Suzanne Collins, after the first Hunger Games film was cast, told Entertainment Weekly that she saw Panem as “a time period where hundreds of years have passed from now. There’s been a lot of ethnic mixing.” From that small nugget of official information, only one true fact of Katniss’ race can be determined: however far in the future  …

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