Albotas Editorial: So the Pokémon series finally gets a black character, but is she too black?

For years, Pokémon fans have wondered why there have never been characters of color in the Pokémon franchise. And no, Brock isn’t black (I kid you not, there are people out there who truly think he is!). Sure, there’s dark-skinned characters who could pass for Hispanic or Korean or something, but there’s never been anyone of African decent.

Maybe this is because the fictional regions where each Pokémon game takes place are based on actual regions of Japan. Black people are somewhat of a rarity in Japan, so it makes sense that they’d be a rarity in Japanese-developed games.

But with Pokémon Black and White, the imaginary Isshu region is based on New York: a melting pot of culture. So it’d make perfect sense to have at least one black character. Finally! A hero for African American Pokémon players to relate to!

Nope. Instead, Japan gives us an insanely dated stereotype named Aloe. She’s not just black, she’s Aunt Jemima black. Big ol’ hair, 70’s headband, and even an apron. She looks like an anime Mammy caricature ready to serve up some fried chicken and cornbread. Is this really what Japan thinks of African Americans?

Or maybe Japan doesn’t think in the same terms of racism as Americans. After all, slavery and civil rights were never as big of an issue over there. Maybe Japanese developers portray their black characters in a stereotypical manner because they draw inspiration from America’s portrayal. When our movies and TV shows are filled with loud-mouthed, slang speaking, saggy-pantsed caricatures, it’s only natural for foreigners to assume that this is the way things really are. And maybe it is.

But an apron? Seriously? Come on, Japan. There’s not a doubt in my mind that every line of text spoken by Aloe will be spoken in a southern black dialect full of ain’ts, watchu’s, and lots of progressive verbs ending with -in’ instead of -ing.

Poor GameFreak. People call you racist for years for not including a black character in Pokémon games, and when you finally do, people call you racist for making her too black.

Or maybe the ones calling GameFreak racist are racist themselves because of their own preconceived stereotypes toward black people.

About The Author


Robby "brownkidd" Weiss is a video marketing producer in real life who likes drawing and making stupid songs for his own pleasure in addition to indulging in the wide variety of interests featured on this very site. He has four cats (not by choice) and is an enormous fan of the female anatomy.

  • Annilynn

    I find this ridiculous. I’m pretty sure she definitely was modeled after how black people were portrayed in media…Except in regards to the hair since black women had been and, for the most part, still are shown with straight hair or braids — but that’s not their fault that black people are basically forced to act stereotypically in order to get work and that’s all they have to go on since black people aren’t very common in Asia.

    [Might I throw in the fact that her design hardly resembles Aunt Jemima. There was the original that had a headband covering her entire head since that was at a time where black women were taught to hide their natural hair so they were always covering it or straightening it. Which brings us to the next design of her; where her hair isn’t even an afro. It’s more like a short cut that has been straighten and given a little curl. So how does she look like Jemima? Because she’s black and has an apron? Pff. And honestly, the apron doesn’t really even phase me much. Japanese “mother-like” characters are often given kimonos so they could have just been doing the same thing but more Americanized. That’s being optimistic, though.]

    I’m glad they made the black femalessss’ [plural] — hair so voluminous [while making it look nice…Though there are some people that have a bias against afros. But that’s their own personal -prejudice- issue, not Japan being racist.] I’m just glad they didn’t give them bright coloured sausage lips causing them to have a blackface look to them like they did in DB…Which ACTUALLY had an Aunt Jemima character in it, might I add. Though, it was made so long ago… [And as much as I love DB, that’s one thing that always pissed me off about it.]

    And what about Iris? Didn’t she come out at the same time as Aloe; during the Black and White game release? She’s like the complete opposite of Aloe. But yeah, let’s focus on how “racist” Aloe’s design is and therefore how racist the creators are and just ignore the completely unstereotypical design of the other black character that came out at the exact same time. -___-

    Also, I love how people are always so quick to cry “racist!” about everything little depiction of someone of a particular race, but no one cries “xenophobic!” when you get characters like Lt. Surge. :/