It’s an oft-quoted statistic that Harry Potter fans are more likely to be open-minded towards minority groups (published 2014 by Journal of Applied Social Psychology). Reading through it again as an adult, I’m even more in awe of how important – and how blatant – it is. Reading through as an adult, and seeing how passionate the characters are about equality and justice, makes me prouder than ever to be a HP fan.
Because it was Dumbledore who said that “it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be,” and who told us that “differences of habit & language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open”. But we are letting differences of religion and region separate us and parse us into tiny boxes with high sides when the differences between us are dwarfed by our similarities as human beings. Rather than focusing on our shared humanity, we’re obsessing over labels and turning everything into an us-vs-them scenario. All Dumbledore wanted was for us to work together and we can’t even manage that.
And it was Hermione who taught us that “It’s people like you…who prop up lazy and unjust systems, just because they’re too lazy…” and who encouraged us to stop being lazy and go out and do something about those unjust systems. Theoretically, she should have been the most dazzled by the wizarding world of the Golden Trio – Ron grew up in it and it was normal to him, and Harry had to deal with the heavy price of fame alongside it, which may have spoiled it a bit – but Hermione was a Muggle born witch who didn’t know anything about this society until she was 11 years old and was told that all the things she was told were only in fairy tales were real. But she could still see the problems and the issues and instead of reacting with a shrug – or with the platitude of we’ll fix that once we deal with this thing that’s a bigger threat to me – she jumped right in and started trying to make things better.
And it was Mr. & Mrs. Weasley, standing up for what was right even when it was holding them back financially -“We know what Fudge is. It’s Arthur’s fondness for Muggles that has held him back at the Ministry ll these years. Fudge thinks he lacks proper wizarding pride” – that taught us that there are more important things than career or money. That raising your children to be good people was important, and that raising children with good values can be just as important as boots on the ground fighting (canonically, the Weasleys didn’t actually fight in the First Wizarding War because they were raising their children).
With role models such as these, it’s no wonder those of us who grew up with Harry et. al. are more open-minded.