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Hogwarts Goes HBCU

Prepare to be bewitched because a new School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has emerged on social media, and it's not your typical Hogwarts. Instead, this version of the famous fictional school has been reimagined by African Americans, who have transformed it into an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), featuring Greek life, strolling, house parties, and lots of trash talking. Introducing Hogwarts Agricultural and Magical University or HAMU, a cultural, melanated twist on the traditional version of the make-believe school that is soaring in popularity online.


But how did this magical movement come to be? According to an online buzzfeednews.com article written by staffer Zia Thompson, the HAMU movement was born out of a popular Slytherin common room meme, which appeared on social media following the release of the Hogwarts Legacy video game.

While some Harry Potter franchise fans have scoffed at supporting the game due to controversy involving author J.K. Rowling's recent history of anti-trans comments. The Black TikTok community sidestepped the Rowling matter, instead focusing on unifying around their passion for Black culture and fantasy.

Breyonne Parker Duncan, a Miami, Florida, business owner who is a part of this new trend, said she feels empowered by what is occurring in the pretend Hogwarts world.

"I got involved in this trend basically through TikTok," said Duncan, a boutique owner. "I had already been a Harry Potter fan since I was very young. I was kind of alienated into it, being one of the only Black kids that actually was into Harry Potter.


It was considered more of a cultural thing for others than it was for people that looked like me, So when I saw this trend, I couldn't help but feel elated due to the many years that I've dealt with other groups and trying to relate to those people who didn't look like me. We ended up having something of our own that was incorporated into our culture."


Hundreds of TikTok videos have been made of fans repping their unique, color-coordinated houses and coming up with a canon that is all their own. At HAMU, a whole new level of enchantment – with rituals, traditions, and even unique artwork, fashion, nicknames, and mottos - is taking social media by storm.

The HAMU movement has gained a lot of attention. It has even inspired Black creators on other social media platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter, to create their own HBCU-inspired versions of popular fictional worlds such as BAMU and HBCU Hogwarts. In addition, the movement has sparked conversations about the lack of diversity and representation in the Harry Potter franchise and in fantasy and science fiction in general.

But the HAMU movement has not been without its critics. Some fans of the Harry Potter franchise have accused the movement of being divisive and separatist. However, many Black fans of the franchise argue that the HAMU movement is not about exclusion but creating a space where Black people can celebrate their culture and history.

Many Black fans of the Harry Potter franchise have felt tokenized or largely excluded from the world of Hogwarts, where there is very little representation of people of color. The HAMU movement allows Black fans to create a version of Hogwarts that reflects their experiences and culture. It is a way for them to create a space where they feel seen and heard.


The HAMU movement highlighted the importance of creating safe spaces for Black people in online communities.

Many Black TikTok creators have shared their experiences of racism and harassment on the app, but the HAMU movement has provided a sense of community and solidarity.


At its core, this reimagining of popular fictional spaces, like Hogwarts, is critical for Black self-care.


"I would never have imagined the 10-year-old me being able to do what I'm doing now," said Duncan, who self-identified as a member of the Griffindor-based House of BAMU called Gamma Sigma Theta. "I mean, it is supporting my self-care because, with (BAMU) houses, you're finding like-minded individuals."


One of the key features of the HAMU universe is the emphasis on Black excellence. The houses in HAMU are based on real HBCUs, such as Howard University and Morehouse College, and each house has its own unique history and traditions. The emphasis on education and academic achievement is also a key feature of HAMU, which reflects the values of many HBCUs.


Duncan said her engagement with the HAMU group has been positive and fulfilling.

"It's been nothing but a family. Like there has been a lot of shared ideas, camaraderie, and chances to get to know people that have been feeling the same way I have been feeling for a very long time," she said. "The fact that we have all of this now and the role it is playing in our self-care and wellness. You have a family now. You have people that are like you. I can ramble about Harry Potter for three hours straight, and we can have a back-and-forth conversation about it without being labeled a weirdo. We are taking care of each other. We are planning to do meet-ups. We're having a homecoming. We're putting blackness, which we didn't necessarily see, inside the wizarding world. We are bringing our culture into the wizarding world."


Historically, the representation of Black people has been excluded from mainstream media and popular culture. When we see ourselves represented, it is often in a negative or stereotypical light. The HAMU movement allows Black people to take ownership of a beloved fictional world and create a space where they are the protagonists. It is a way for Black people to reclaim their history and culture and celebrate it on their terms.

The HAMU movement sparked conversations about the importance of cultural preservation and the role of fiction in shaping cultural identity. For many Black TikTok creators, the HAMU universe represents a space where Black culture can be celebrated and preserved, even in the face of erasure and assimilation.


The movement has shown the power of imagination in shaping our understanding of the world around us. By creating a version of Hogwarts that reflects their experiences and culture, Black TikTok creators are creating a space for themselves and shaping the cultural landscape of popular media. The HAMU movement has shown that fiction can be a powerful tool for cultural preservation and identity formation.


Duncan said the HAMU movement is also a response to the lack of representation of Black people in fantasy and science fiction. Black people have been relegated to the sidelines in these genres for too long. When we appear, we are often the sidekick or the token character. HAMU allows Black people to insert themselves into these stories and create their own narratives.


"When this new (Harry Potter) series comes out on HBO, we will have a bunch of kids, a new generation of kids who are fans," she said. "I'm going to rep my house. I'm going to say it's cool…. it's OK to be a part of something and not look like every character inside of the story. This is just an amazing thing for all of us. Not to exclude ourselves, but include ourselves into conversations that we weren't necessarily a part of in other Harry Potter groups."


The HAMU movement on TikTok is a powerful example of how Black people use social media to reimagine popular culture on their own terms. By creating a Hogwarts that reflect their own experiences and culture, Black TikTokers are creating a space to celebrate their history and traditions and be the heroes of their stories. This movement is a testament to the creativity, resilience, and ingenuity of Black people and a reminder that we will always find ways to create spaces for ourselves, even in the face of exclusion and marginalization.


Another unexpected bonus from the HAMU movement has been creating opportunities for Black creators to showcase their talents and build their brands. Many creators have created original content inspired by HAMU, such as artwork, music, and fashion. The movement has also allowed Black creators to collaborate and build community, which can lead to new friendships and even career opportunities.


Additionally, the HAMU movement has highlighted the importance of intersectionality in the fight for social justice. Many Black TikTok creators have emphasized that the movement is not just about celebrating Black culture but about celebrating the diversity of Black experiences. The movement has provided a space for Black LGBTQIA people, Black women, and other marginalized groups within the Black community to showcase their talents and celebrate their identities.


The HAMU movement has also shown the power of fan culture in shaping popular media. For example, while the Harry Potter franchise has been criticized for lacking diversity, the HAMU movement has shown that fans can create versions of beloved fictional worlds that reflect their experiences and values. The movement has also demonstrated that fan culture can be a powerful tool for social change. It provides a space for marginalized groups to create their own narratives and celebrate their identities.


FAST FACTS

  • Of an estimated 600 named characters in the series, including students, teachers, ghosts, creatures, and more, only five of them are Black.

  • Black characters include Angelina Johnson, Dean Thomas, Lee Jordan, Kingsley Shacklebolt, and Blaise Zabini.

  • Angelina Johnson is a member of Gryffindor's Quidditch team and later becomes captain, while Dean Thomas is a Gryffindor student who is friends with Harry.

  • Lee Jordan is a Gryffindor student who serves as the commentator for Quidditch matches, and Kingsley Shacklebolt is a member of the Order of the Phoenix and later becomes Minister for Magic.

  • Blaise Zabini is a Slytherin student who is described as being "handsome" and "arrogant," but little else is known about his character.


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