The world in Deus Ex: Human Revolution is one close to my heart. How can it not be, when the game takes place in Detroit, which is where I call home sweet home? While exploring this world, you may come across a poor black woman named Letitia. Time Techland believes that this character is a portrayal of African Americans so ugly, so crude and so severe that it is best described as racist, going so far as to say that Letitia’s inclusion is the worst thing about the entire game:
Why is this in here? Humor? Any mirth to be had from watching the sequence dissipates about 30 seconds in. The horrible broken English Letitia speaks is so far removed from any actual slang that it renders the character practically extra-terrestrial. It’s not from an alien planet, though. That slang harkens back to the worst blackface minstrelsy of the last century. Even the voice actor sounds embarrassed at the things she—even though it sounds like a man, at times—has to say.
Hit the break for Square-Enix’s response, the dialogue with Letitia and my thoughts on the matter.
Publisher Square-Enix has issued a statement countering this, saying:
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a fictional story which reflects the diversity of the world’s future population by featuring characters of various cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. While these characters are meant to portray people living in the year 2027, it has never been our intention to represent any particular ethnic group in a negative light.
I’ve pasted a video which shows the dialogue with Letitia. I watch this as a black man and feel no slight at all. In my opinion, Letitia doesn’t portray black people; only poor, ignorant people. To me, she would be viewed the same way regardless of what her skin color was. Her broken English is a result of her education(or lack thereof) and environment, not her race. I mean, she’s digging in the trash when you see her for God’s sake. However, her character on the whole is shockingly distinct. This showcases the hard work that the developers put into this title, I think, and absolutely not racism. The only way any umbrage could be taken from this is if a viewer took it extremely personally or simply misinterpreted it. What do you think?