I dont Think any of the les mis cast actors can be black. If you were black in France in 1800 you would be lower class. And it was before integration. It is not historicly correct that Javert, a police officer with High status, would have been black. I love norm Lewis, but no. And eponine cant be black, and have white parents. Im not racist, i repeat not racist
Everything about this is factually wrong.
-There very much were black people in high status positions in France in the 1800s. Here, check out the Dumas Family —General, famous author, and hey, another fairly successful author!. Sure, most black people would not have been high status— most PEOPLE, period, were not among the social elite, because that’s how an elite works. And racism was certainly a complicating factor for anyone not white. But 1800s France was not 1800s USA, the systems in play were very different, and the options for racially marginalized groups were likewise different.
-Speaking of social elites! Police inspectors were not at all in that number. (Also Javert may not have been exactly an inspector, Hugo appears to have conflated some duties) (And here’s some NSFW reading on what those duties might entail! Warning: lots and lots of talk of prostitution). Remember that even in the book, Hugo describes society “closing its doors” (which, OUCH) on two classes: those who attack it and those who defend it, meaning in that particular passage criminal and the law. Inspectors were poorly paid and poorly trained, with training/schools for the field not established until 1883.
- Eponine can totally be "black with white parents”. Or white with black parents! (cw:racism, both those links) SO COULD ANY OF THE CHARACTERS, Because Genetics. It’s a lot more complicated than people seem to realize!
All this, of course, on top of the realities of theater that I’ve seen other people mention in the notes to this post re:colorblind casting, the fact that we accept ENGLISH SPEAKERS in 1820s-1830s France (and Hugo didn’t talk overmuch about race but he has ACTUAL CHAPTERS to say on language), and, y’know, the singing thing (although there IS a surprising amount of actual singing in the Brick.) And anyone claiming to be Not A Racist might want to first wonder why they find RACE the objectionable adaptational issue, rather than the English, the singing, or the wildly inaccurate clothing in most stage productions (the xylophone, now, THAT would not have been happening. At least not on Enjolras. But I’m willing to go with it, aren’t you, OP?).
I’m going to guess it’s at least partly because, ESPECIALLY in the USA, ALL OF US are subject to certain cultural narratives that prioritize race as a focus and normalize historical racism, whether we ourselves want to believe those narratives or not. Which is the only reason I’m posting here; it’s certainly not because I’m an expert in the field. I’m not one of the real heavy researchers, I’m not equipped to answer fine-detailed questions about the history of race relations in France past OR present (and I expect to be offered corrections and criticism on this post really fast, AS IT SHOULD BE, because this is important!). But that’s kind of my point; it took me all of thirty minutes to look up most of this (INCLUDING the non-Tumblr commissioner stuff, and there was more of that if I’d needed to construct pay records etc. on my own), and that’s on dialup. We don’t have to accept the whole “history is for white people” idea, and why would anyone WANT to?
All that, plus that’s Norm Lewis and he’s fantastic so shut up historically ignorant poster.