I don’t know anything about the social categories into which you fall, OP, aside from the fact that you are obviously white. Fandom seems to be overwhelming female, though, so I am going to assume for the moment that you are also female and share with you the following anecdote in the hope of helping you to understand why this confession is so grossly offensive.
Last fall, when I started scoping out all of the shows that were to premiere as part of the 2011 television series, I was immediately drawn to the fantasy and fairytale elements of both Once Upon a Time and Grimm. I considered watching both, but in the end, I never ended up seeing a single episode of Grimm. Why? When I looked at the casts for both shows, I realized that Grimm has very few female characters (I’m told that the only major one is an annoying girlfriend), whereas OUaT had given top billing to three actresses. Even though I had reservations about Jennifer Morrison (as I wasn’t overly fond of Cameron on House), and Grimm was co-created by David Greenwalt, I chose to start watching OUaT, and after the pilot, I never looked back.
Because, you see, fantasy — and fiction in general — is largely about escapism, about leaving behind the mundane and frustrating aspects of our lives for an hour and immersing ourselves in a magical world where anything is possible. However, when I watch a program and I see no women — or at least, no women with meaningful, well-rounded roles in the series — it hinders that escapism element, because I cannot watch all of these men traipse around without thinking “Why is it that no one who looks like me, who has shared similar experiences with sexism as me, is present in this program? What is it about this fictional universe that is hostile to my gender?” It ruins the illusion and the fantasy by reminding me that, as a woman in the United States in 20fucking12, I remain, in essence, a second-class citizen.
It’s the same thing when it comes to viewers of color. Why should black, Asian, Native American, and other PoC fans of OUaT be denied the opportunity to see characters who look like them, who have shared similar experiences with racism and hatred and prejudice as them? Why should this form of escapism that you and I are so enjoying be denied to them? Why must PoC be reminded of the oppression and discrimination that they face in their daily lives while trying to enjoy a simple television show?
Also, when it comes to your point about the Grimms’ fairytales being about white people, I’d like to see the citations for that. While some characters are indeed described in ways that indicate that they are white (e.g. Snow White, who is so named for the color of her skin, and Rapunzel, whom I believe is described as being blonde), others are not, and as the Grimms did not provide color illustrations of their stories, we cannot claim to know the race of other characters. Ultimately, though, this point is meaningless, because Once Upon a Time is a show that is premised on re-telling classic fairytales in new and exciting ways. In which classing telling of “Red Riding Hood” was Red a werewolf? When did the Grimms explain that the Evil Queen’s malevolence was born from great abuse and loss? How did I miss before OUaT that Rumpelstiltskin and the Beast are the same character? If we accept these changes as valid re-tellings of classic fairytales, then why can’t Prince Charming be Asian? Why can’t Belle be black? Seriously, I’m waiting for one good reason.
[PoC fans: if I’ve misrepresented your experience or feelings on the matter in any way, please let me know, and I will rectify the situation.]
I’d take this further and ask, “Why, dear OP, is it necessary for these characters to be White? What is it about being a person of color that takes away from the meaning of a story?”
Because, in my mind, Regina is a beautiful, brilliant, powerful, complex Latina, and this enriches my understanding of the story. How often do Latinas (or any women of color) get to see themselves this way on screen? Why is it so important to have to be able to deny us this?
In my mind, Sidney is a man (or genie or mirror) whose naive, unrequited love has turned sour. And his being Black does not take away from that.