…Yes, yes they are.
This is a reminder that just because a character has light skin doesn’t mean that they are white. There are no white/European characters in the ATLA universe. The show definitely had a lot of cultural and ethnic diversity - but it showed the diversity of Asian, Pacific Islander, and Indigenous cultures. There are literally no white people in the ATLA universe, which was a major problem when the live-action movie was created.
The Avatar: The Last Airbender series was established by the creators and Nickelodeon as set in a “fantastical Asian world.” The Intellectual Property Bible affirms that the world of the series is and should be authentically Asian, and cultural consultants were hired to ensure the depiction of the world and characters would be respectful. People who have worked on the original series have also affirmed that the characters were ethnically Asian.
The default physical appearance for all characters in live-action fantasy worlds is not and should not always and only be anglo-saxon, western European facial features and coloring–particularly not in a series like Avatar: The Last Airbender, which featured ethnically Asian Pacific characters and Pacific Rim cultures.
From the Avatar Wiki page:
Avatar: The Last Airbender is conceptually influenced by the many different real-world cultures of the Pacific Rim. It is primarily influenced by East Asian cultures, as well as South Asian and Indigenous cultures, with contemporary American storytelling tropes interspersed throughout.
And I would suggest reading the entire page which clearly points out that there is NOTHING about the world that was inspired by European cultures, and that none of the characters are white. Like, literally. From another page on the Avatar Wiki:
Avatar is notable for borrowing extensively from Asian art and mythology to create its fictional universe. The show’s character designs are influenced by both American cartoons and anime; the show, however, is not considered an “anime” because of its origination in the United States. Explicitly stated influences include Chinese art and history, Korean clothing and folk tales, Japanese anime, Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism, and yoga. The production staff employed a cultural consultant, Edwin Zane, to review scripts.
And finally, from the mouths of the actual creators:
BRYAN: Mike and I were really interested in other epic “Legends & Lore” properties, like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, but we knew that we wanted to take a different approach to that type of genre. Our love for Japanese Anime, Hong Kong action & Kung Fu cinema, yoga, and Eastern philosophies led us to the initial inspiration for Avatar.
MIKE: Bryan and I love the films of Hayao Miyazaki. The stories and emotional depth of Spirited Away, and Princess Mononoke were big inspirations for us when we began creating Avatar. Also, the character design and animation of Fooly Cooly from studio Gainex was influential as well.
If you can watch the series or watch Legend of Korra and honestly think that there are white characters you are not paying attention. Besides the light skin, there’s literally nothing that could even possibly hint to characters being white (and if you say eye color, then you clearly haven’t watched the show - eye color within each nation corresponds to bending. Hence, Katara has blue eyes because she’s a waterbender, Zuko’s are golden because he’s a firebender, etc.) The Water Tribe is based off of mostly Inuit culture. The Earth Nation is based mostly off of Chinese traditions with a mixture of other East Asian traditions. The Fire Nation is a mixture of Chinese and various Southeast Asian traditions. The Air Nomads are based mainly off of Buddhist Tibetan culture.
EVERYTHING - the various governments, bending styles, clothing, hair styles, politics, histories, architecture, food, literally anything you can think of - is based off of the intermixing of many different Asian and Indigenous cultures. So do you really think Bryke would be like, “alright now let’s put some white people up in this bitch?” (And yeah, we can and should talk about the problems of two white dudes using all these various cultures and traditions and mixing and matching for the show - but the point remains that they created an entire world based on mainly Asian cultures and people).
THE ANSWER IS NO. THERE IS NOT ONE WHITE PERSON IN THE ATLA UNIVERSE AND I REALLY DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE FEEL THE NEED TO WHITEWASH IT AND PRETEND THERE IS.
Tbh it would’ve been really easy to just delete this ask because all this information is really easy to find and this is a space for Women of Color. But if there’s one thing that really fucking pisses me off is people who whitewash and erase PoC from media. ATLA is one of my favorite television shows and has given us some of the strongest and most nuanced WoC characters on television. So don’t sit there and whitewash Toph or Azula or Suki when it’s so fucking clear that they are characters of color.
Mofos can’t handle that white people don’t exist in something.
….people literally thought toph was white.
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME, HERE IS MY MASTERLIST OF POSTS.