Divergent: Why Is Post-Apocalyptic Chicago So Full of White People?

Divergent: Why Is Post-Apocalyptic Chicago So Full of White People?

So I saw Divergent.

Divergent takes place in a post-horrible-war Chicago.

As of the 2010 Census, Chicago's population was about 32% non-Hispanic white folks, about 33% African Americans, and the other third from a variety of other racial and ethnic backgrounds.

Divergent crowdShailene Woodley in Divergent. Image: Summit Entertainment

Almost everyone in Divergent is white.

Zoë Kravitz and Maggie Q have speaking roles, and Mekhi Phifer has a little bitty part, and then there's just this... bunch of white people. Almost everyone in the crowd scenes, the rest of the speaking cast—lots and lots of white people.

What did they do with all the people of color?

I mean, I know there was a war, and a lot of people died, but really?

Don't get me wrong; I enjoyed a lot about the movie. The main character, Tris (Shailene Woodley), is a young woman who has always felt out of place in her "tribe." It was amazing to watch her find a new tribe and start to shine, and heartbreaking to realize with her that the new tribe is still part of the same fascist society that could cast her out or kill her at any moment. I enjoyed watching her learn to kick ass. I enjoyed watching Ashley Judd as her mom kicking some ass. And I didn't think they overdid the romance between Tris and Theo James's character Four.


How is this movie set in Chicago and the population is 90% white?

Did everyone in Chicago get killed and these people all moved there from somewhere else?

Divergent ZoeZoë Kravitz in Divergent. Image: Summit Entertainment

Update: On Facebook, someone who has read the series let me know that there IS a reason within the book why the cast would not necessarily reflect the composition of current or near-future Chicago, or any large urban area. However, I've yet to find a reason why having so few people of color was necessary to the story. The demographic future of the United States does not look like this!

Editor's note: Though Divergent writer Veronica Roth says she is pleased with the casting and some fans point out that speaking roles of some characters will be increased to follow the books in future movies, other bloggers have also noted the crowd scenes, and some have accused the movie of whitewashing Roth's books.


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