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BELLAMY BLAKE IS NOT WHITE: ‘The 100’, Whitewashing, and Being Mixed Race

BELLAMY BLAKE IS NOT WHITE: ‘The 100’, Whitewashing, and Being Mixed Race

In traditional fashion, I always feel the need to defend my taste in TV shows whenever I tell somebody “Yeah, I really like The 100. It’s a CW show.”

CW shows get a bad rap – sometimes deservedly so – but generally speaking I’ve enjoyed The 100 for its originality, its willingness to treat its audience like adults and not condescend to them, and of course I can’t speak more highly of its diverse cast.

Anyone who thinks this show is “playing it safe” clearly hasn’t taken a closer look at characters like Clarke Griffin (the female lead and canonically bisexual) and Bellamy Blake (the male lead of mixed race background). Also, how cool is it that all the leaders of the different nations in the show are women? ‘Bout damn time.

But it’s Bellamy Blake (played by Bob Morley) who I’d like to talk about here, because fans and the internet at large need to take note of something pretty important:

Bellamy Blake isn’t white.

Neither is Bob, who makes no secret of the fact that he’s half Filipino:

As a child, primary school was unkind to me. Growing up in a small country town where coming from a mixed-race family was alien, the racial taunts were abundant, and my thick black hair and my dark complexion were a dead giveaway that I was different, let alone my proud Filipino mother.

Emotionally too weak to deal with the racial slurs, my body responded and became my savior. I learned to use my physicality as a means of defense. I was the kid so puffed up with bravado and aggression, yet so full of pain. (Source)

I feel as if this goes without saying after having read that, but being mixed race was not simple for Bob, especially as it sounds like those racial slurs and taunts were huge wounds for him.

Full disclosure: yours truly is also half Filipino, but I never dealt with the level of bullying that it sounds like Bob endured. Little microaggressions, sure (“I bet you were cute as a baby, mixed babies are sooo cute!”), but nothing overt.

So as a fellow Pinay of mixed-race background, this is my bone to pick, and it’s unbelievably insulting to see that fans of the show have a habit of disregarding and/or ignoring Bob’s ethnicity when convenient.

I’ve seen fan art where his character Bellamy’s skin is colored the same shade of pale as Clarke’s. I’ve read meta and commentary where fans treat Bellamy like another “generic white guy” with “generic white guy” problems and bravado, effectively forget intersectionality altogether. I’ve seen GIFs on Tumblr where the PSD coloring whitewashes his skin so it’s practically translucent, all for “the pastel aesthetic.” I’ve even read (rare but all still infuriating) comments that, because there’s no conclusive “proof” that Bellamy is mixed race in the show, that it’s perfectly acceptable to assume that Bellamy is 100% organic white even though Bob is not.

This problem of not being “white enough” or “non-white enough” isn’t unique to The 100 or its fans, and it’s certainly not new. Comedian Steve Byrne (of Korean-Irish descent) once joked that from his own experience being a person of mixed backgrounds, people tend to pigeonhole you: “Whatever kinda messes up the whitey, that’s what you are.”

While crass, there’s something to that idea. Mixed people are never “enough.” We’re too white or we’re not white enough. We’re a person of color, but we aren’t enough of a person of color. We’re too Westernized. We’re not Westernized enough. In short, there’s no place for us to fit. We’re too much or too little, never “just right.”

Mixed people are never “enough.” We’re too white or we’re not white enough. We’re a person of color, but we aren’t enough of a person of color. We’re too much or too little, never “just right.”

For Bellamy, it’s a case of old-fashioned whitewashing. There’s no “proof” in the show that he’s from a mixed background? Default him to white, slap that ‘beige’ palette on him in Photoshop and let’s hit the road.

As for the show itself, sure, they never explicitly say anything about his ethnic background – and if I’m being honest, they don’t have to – but they have an interesting loophole to use to their advantage if they so choose.

Bellamy’s younger sister Octavia is played by Marie Avgeropoulos, who is of Greek descent. Some fans have said that because Marie is not of Filipino descent that this must mean Bob’s character is also not of a mixed background, but here’s the thing: we’ve never met the Blake father. It’s possible that they have different fathers and they’re only half siblings. Bellamy’s father could be Filipino; Octavia’s might not be.

Has it been stated as an official fact yet? No, but it hasn’t been denied either. The show writers could potentially write themselves out of a messy quagmire if they utilized this particular loophole.

And if fans can read and accept fanfic AUs where Clarke and Lexa are dragon riders, they can accept the possibility of a mixed race character with a white half-sibling within the context of the show. That doesn’t dilute or diminish Bellamy and Octavia’s relationship in any way.

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As a fan of the show, as a fan of Bob and as a fellow Pinay, I refuse to stay quiet on this simple fact: you cannot claim that a character in any medium is fully white if the actor portraying them is not. Period.

Would you try to argue that Halle Berry is 100% white? What about Zoe Kravitz? What about any other actor or actress of mixed background?

What is it about Bob that allows people to think it’s acceptable to, as he put it himself, “disregard someone’s cultural heritage and upbringing” so easily? Is it because it’s “easier” to get away with whitewashing an actor of Asian descent than any other minority?

I don’t know. But it needs to end. The 100 is too much of a diverse show for fans to so flippantly disregard the ethnic background of one of its lead actors – especially when being a person of mixed race has had a profound influence on his life.

Acknowledging someone’s mixed background should not be like pulling teeth. Again, as Bob said, “Respect yourself and respect others.”

Bob Morley – and by default Bellamy Blake – is not white.

Respect that.

Editor’s Note: “Pinay” is a feminine form of a word many Filipino people use to self-identify as part of the Filipino diaspora. Bob Morley would be described with the masculine form, Pinoy.

Gabby Taub is the Fantasy Reviewer at Girls in Capes and a graduate of New York University where she studied creative writing and English. She’s currently working on her own horror novel, holding down a regular job, and enjoying the self-assigned title as the Captain America aficionado at GiC.

Gabrielle Taub on Twitter
Gabrielle Taub
Fantasy Reviewer at Girls in Capes
Gabby, the Fantasy Reviewer at Girls in Capes, is a graduate of New York University. She enjoys reading (about Captain America), writing (about Captain America), and spending time getting lost among the bookshelves at Strand Bookstore – probably while thinking about Captain America.
Gabrielle Taub
Written by Gabrielle Taub

Gabby, the Fantasy Reviewer at Girls in Capes, is a graduate of New York University. She enjoys reading (about Captain America), writing (about Captain America), and spending time getting lost among the bookshelves at Strand Bookstore – probably while thinking about Captain America.

  • tirpse

    Thanks for this article! It really annoys me that people refuse to accept Bellamy as a person of color.

    I found these 2 sources where Kim Shumway, a writer of The 100, confirms twice that the Blakes are half siblings, that they have different fathers. Thought you’d like to see it.

    On Tumblr: http://kimshum.tumblr.com/post/112389592521/im-not-sure-if-youve-been-asked-before-but-i
    On Twitter: https://twitter.com/kimshum/status/534811767885418496

    • This is fantastic to see – thank you so much for linking to these!

  • I don’t have the link but I know Jason and the show’s other writers have said whatever nationality the actors are in real life, they are in the show. So you’re correct in saying Bellamy’s father must be Filipino. (Just FYI)

  • Tomiju

    Thank you for this!!!

    It annoys the shit of out of me that so much fanart that I see in the Bellarke fandom got Bob/Bell looking all pastel white. And that is not even touching how much fanfic ignores that Bell is biracial or how often in the Bellarke fandom place Bellamy in racist stereotypes and/or narratives e.g. Bellamy as Ms White-Princess-Clarke’s knight to her queen, and she is the reason why he doesnt go off the rails and do bad things. Cuz a moc is meant to serve a white girl and become civilized through her love and attention right? UGH!!!!!! So often gif sets and shit with Bob whitewashed got some ~deep lyrics/texts about how his princess/queen/empress makes him a better man (read: more civilized). God forbid Bellamy is on an equal level to Clarke, and he changed because of multiple influences including his friends and sister and his own sense of right and wrong and wanting to be better.

    It is really frustrating that a fandom that is consisting of proclaimed fans of Bellamy, does these things so often and frequently. I sincerely hope ur article gets a lot of attention cuz sometimes I feel alienated trying to be in the Bellarke fandom among the sea of white girls that just do these things. You definitely mention some needed areas that fandom can improve upon with Bellamy/Bob. There are also some things I feel like people should be aware of when you are creating fan works that has involves a person that isn’t white. Also even with fandom/fans that acknowledge the race of a character and seemingly champion the character, they often reproduce racist stereotypes and tropes with a romanticized twist (at least I see that a lot in the Bellarke fandom).

    One point I disagree a bit with u sorta relates to the show and how they have presented Bellamy. Cuz they have white washed him imo with how the show did cast a white boy as Bellamy during his flashback episode in season 1. Like what even… They film in Vancouver of all places that has a big Asian immigrant population compared to other places in Canada. It wouldn’t be hard for them to find an actor that is mixed like Bob to play kid!Bellamy. That is some super bullshit and to me, it shows how much thought the writers really put in poc rep. I think the writers want to be known as progressive so yeah they have a higher amount of PoC as part of the cast, but they think by letting race be something that is ‘ignored by everyone in the narrative’ that it frees them from any responsibility regarding narratives, stereotypes etc.

    Several mixed actors and actresses are forced by HW if they want work to represent “one side” of their heritage, and ive seen people speculate that by giving Bellamy a white sister, a white mom and casting a white kid as Bell, that the show has thereby represented Bellamy the character as white. This pisses me off cuz actor race = character race unless the show somehow states otherwise (and in that case it is shitty of a show to do that). The show created that situation when they could had A: cast a proper actor for kid!bell and/or B: at least have SOME sort of reference or acknowledgement.

    As it is, if I go to some general areas to read about the show like the AV Club, 99% of the commenter’s are utter clueless about Bob/Bellamy being mixed-race. They think he is white and will reference Octavia and/or kid!Bell. Just ugh.

    ps sorry for the bit of ranty comment. this is something of a sore spot and point of aggravation for me.

    • tirpse

      What I also find horrible is some Clexa fans who very well know Bob is mixed race denying Bellamy’s heritage because the show ~didn’t state that he isn’t white. The show also never stated Wells and Jaha are black or that Monty is Asian but no-one questions it. But Bellamy gets stripped of all that because the show didn’t show them a Filipino man as his father yet. The show definitely messed up when they casted a white boy to play his 6 year old self in 106 but those 2 minutes should not override Bob playing him for almost 4 years now.

      I really want to hear more about Bellamy’s father on the show, not just to make every last ignorant viewer realize he isn’t white but also because I’d love to know how Bell’s father played into Bellamy’s child hood. Or if he played a part at all.

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