From ‘A storm of swords’, Tyrion V
There were three sorts of Dornishmen, the first King Daeron had observed.
There were the salty Dornishmen who lived along the coasts, the sandy Dornishmen of the deserts and long river valleys, and the stony Dornishmen who made their fastnesses in the passes and heights of the Red Mountains. The salty Domishmen had the most Rhoynish blood, the stony Dornishmen the least.
All three sorts seemed well represented in Doran’s retinue. The salty Dornishmen were lithe and dark, with smooth olive skin and long black hair streaming in the wind. The sandy Dornishmen were even darker, their faces burned brown by the hot Dornish sun. They wound long bright scarfs around their helms to ward off sunstroke. The stony Dornishmen were biggest and fairest, sons of the Andals and the First Men, brownhaired or blond, with faces that freckled or burned in the sun instead of browning.
It’s clear from here that not all of the Dornishmen are POCs. Oberyn is later on described as a salty Dornishman, so he’s more probably olive-skinned than black or brown. Elia and Doran should look like him, and the same can be said for most of the Sand Snakes (except Sarella, of course, if she’s actually Alleras, and Tyene, who is described as pale as milk, if I’m not wrong).
Besides, there’s A LOT of Targaryen blood in the family, and they’re surely not the most dark-skinned family in Westeros.
At the ADWD book signing in NYC, I referred to the Martells as presenting ‘a different racial perspective’ and Martin nodded, then referred to them in his response to my general question (which was about minority representation among the POV characters) as ‘characters of color’. You’re not required to believe me, of course, but there were about 3000 witnesses.
GRRM has also said that Lady Nym, Oberyn’s daughter, looks like the actress Janina Gavankar. Gavankar is of Indian descent. Nym is the daughter of Oberyn and a Volantene noblewoman, and the Volantene nobles are described as fair-skinned. Logic would dictate that Oberyn therefore is a person of color.
I am olive-skinned while being a white person, so yes, you can be an olive-skinned white person. But GRRM unambiguously noted Quentyn and Arianne to me as characters of color, and has made it clear he imagines Nymeria Sand as a woman of color. I don’t know how much more clear-cut this can be made.
I’m not going to lie.
The original post pisses me off.
Different shades exist amongst people of color, but that does not prevent us from being people of color, nor does it make us white. The Pasthun people, for example, who live in Northern Pakistan and Afghanistan, are variantly fair-skinned, fair-haired, and sometimes have blue or green eyes. There has been some speculation as to their origins; mixing with the soldiers of Alexander the Great when he invaded that area centuries ago is an idea that has been proposed. Because Afghanistan is so close to Russia, it’s not exactly surprising that some of its people are going to resemble whites. But does that make them whites themselves? Do they look like your conventional Aryan? No. Google Pashtun or, better yet, Afghan girl, and you’ll see. People of color don’t have a homogeneous skin color, but that doesn’t take away from our color. That doesn’t make us white.
I imagine that Dorne would be much the same. To be people of color, you don’t need to be collectively black or brown or whatever your impression of those skin colors are. What constitutes brown-ness, anyhow? People in Pakistan are lighter and darker than each other. I’m a person of color and people in my own family are exponentially lighter than I am. (And no, they’re not of white heritage either.) Arabs can be extremely fair-skinned, so much so that they are sometimes demographically categorized as whites. Does that make them ethnically similar to Western white people, however? I think you can answer that question for me.
Also, the Targaryens are an incredibly weak argument. A few interracial marriages can’t offset color, especially when Martin has already indicated that Targaryen genes can give way to Martell ones with Rhaenys.
Stop marginalizing people of color by branding them white. Stop saying that the nuance of skin color in Dorne makes them white. They are not white. It is not merely skin color that even determines ethnicity because features factor significantly in this too. Also, itsinthetrees has pretty much expunged any argument stemming from the text or authorial intent. The Martells are people of color. Get over it.
I picture Dorne as a region to be roughly analogous to Medieval Spain (or rather the varying countries that made up the Iberian Peninsula at the time), which up until roughly 1492, represented a pretty wide range of different ethnicities.
The photo of Janina Gavankar linked, where GRRM said she looked like Lady Nym.
Ooo, she’s perfect for Lady Nym! And pretty much how I pictured the Dornish. Great points, too. I (in all my ignorance) was amazed when I first went to Turkey and saw such a wide variety of skin and hair color, and I think Dorne would be perfect to represent that in popular television.
On a side note, though, I always compared Arianne Martell to Princess Jasmine, too (but obviously much more intense), which is probably part of the reason I love her and the Sand Snakes so much.