Is Deus Ex racist? Square Enix responds

There’s no denying that Deus Ex: Human Revolution is an excellent game. The series’ recently released reboot has received an overwhelmingly positive response from both critics and players (GamesRadar gave it a perfect score in our review). But despite high praise for the overall game, there’s been a lot of discussion over whether or not the representation of certain characters in the game cross the line of political correctness, especially in regards to NPC Letitia the Trash Lady, an African American woman who speaks in what is sometimes referred to as slave-era dialect.

See a video of Letitia the Trash Lady conversing with the game’s lead character Adam Jenson, read an official response from publisher Square Enix, and decide for yourself.

We contacted Square Enix to find out what the publisher had to say to fans who felt that the Uncle Tom-esque representation of Leticia the Trash Lady went too far. Here’s what they had to say:

"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."

What do you think? Does Letitia revive a horrible racial stereotype? Or is the way she speaks just an earnest (but perhaps clumsy) attempt to portray poverty in Detroit, 2027? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Aug 31, 2011


  • prax1s - December 13, 2014 11:27 a.m.

    Way late to this party, but-- I'm shocked that when black people say this portrayal is offensive, that so many, SO MANY non-black fans are so quick to jump on that statement and get all righteously upset about it and silence that complaint. Like, sure, you may have different beliefs and life experiences, you may not think this is racist, but black people are literally experts on their own experiences. If a lot of black folk take issue with this character, shouldn't you listen to the experts and consider that their POV at least *might* be more valid than your own? More thoughts: Just because SE probably had good intentions here doesn't mean they are incapable of being accidentally racist-- i.e., accidentally promoting stereotypes that devalue black people in a broader, systematic way. I don't think white people shouldn't be so scared of being 'branded' with 'the scarlet R'. Doing something racist doesn't mean you are a klansman, it just means you're doing a thing that a less privileged group of people think hurts them and they wish you would stop. The fact that eidos Montreal has black employees does not make them incapable of racism! That's a rather bizarre assumption to make. Don't get me wrong, I love this game. But it has strengths and weaknesses, and I happen to believe that this character is a big weakness. I hope SE responds to this issue in future installations so that black gamers can fully enjoy the experience of DX without being jarred out of it by what many of them feel is an offensive portrayal.
  • allan-maynard - May 18, 2013 12:18 p.m.

    This may be an old post but every now and then I see something so idiotic that I just have to comment... anyone who thinks this is racist really needs to take a better look at themselves, the world around them(and everyone else in it), and this game. First off Letitia is not the only black person in this game nor is she the stereotypical persona of the black people in this game( now watch me be crucified for calling them black...). There are many black people in this game who speak with the same, if not more so, intelligence than any other character in the game. Secondly, I personally know several people who talk like this with the same accent and mannerisms just barely stopping short of addressing most white people as masser. I'm not saying this to be racist just simply to show that it is not an inaccurate portrayal of black people as a whole just exactly like the stereotypical bigoted, ignorant, hate-mongering, portrayal of say a KKK member is not inaccurate nor is it indicative of all white people. As a matter of fact I, as a white man, personally hate that particular attitude, but it is real even to this day, and so I don't bitch about it offending my racial pride. People really need to stop being so overly-sensitive that they blind themselves to the, albeit ugly, realities of this world. So to all the offended black, white, latino, asian, or any mixture in between out there: stop taking every media portrayal of your particular ethnic group as a personal affront and simply accept that there are people out there that are an embarrassment to all of us as human beings and move the f%@$ on... nobody who looks at this character is going to come over to your house and suddenly look down on you because a FICTIONAL CHARACTER is less intelligent or prideful than you are as an individual. Chill the f$#^ out. Peace and have a good day... Your friend, Honky, Gringo, Cracker, Howlie, Gai Jin, Whitie... etc.
  • mothbanquet - September 5, 2011 10:07 a.m.

    One thing I love about a racism discussion is how it brings people together.
  • Kayden - September 5, 2011 7:29 a.m.

    No, and why is it that the Black community only stands up for Blacks? or Hispanics only stand up for Hispanics? What's really racist is the fact these special interest groups say they fight for rights and equality, when they are only concerned with the color of your skin to stand up for you! It isn't about rights or equality, it's about the color of your f*&#ing skin, who is racist now?!? There is nothing wrong with how she talks, if they had a white guy with a New England accent you wouldn't be raising such a stink, thus my point is further proved that those who bitch about racism are the true racists, creating and keeping those barriers up between us as species rather then trying to bring us together! All that I ever hear come from these special interest groups are hate and segregation, that includes the KKK. I am white and I hate those douche bags because they are another reason we can't come together, they just dividing us about what is different rather than bringing us together. I am not racist, I am not going to hate you because of the color of your skin, how you talk, where your from, what your religion is or what ever every one else says I should be afraid of you for. I believe in trusting the person, they will make me decide if I will trust them or not nothing more. We are a species that thrives on conflict as a group and not as bringing our selves together, unless were under threat. It is a sad truth but it's a truth none the less. I say to every one who thinks this is racist, stop looking at skin or accent and realize that it is diversity. This could have happened to any other group out there, so get off your soap box and try to accept the decisions such as these as one that is showing us we have differences as a society and accept those differences beyond the color of our/your skin.
  • AuthorityFigure - September 4, 2011 3:33 a.m.

    Voice acting in games is like pixelation in theatre.
  • MACGRUBER7693 - September 1, 2011 7:25 p.m.

    Meh, they had an npc that they wanted to stick out from the crowd so they gave her an over the top, soul voice. If this is an example of racism that gets people up in arms than I think we've come a long way. Like someone else in this thread mentioned, the media is focusing on the wrong parts of the game. They should focus on the unique idea of not having to kill everything that moves in a game with guns and it's mature take on transhumanism.
  • GodokunoDan999 - September 1, 2011 10:53 p.m.

    The problemis The voice HAS NO SOUL. It sounds like a WHITELADY,or worse,a WHITE MAN IMITATING A BLACK WOMAN'S VOICE. That's f---ed up, and racist. There are a lot of African American actors that are out of work and could've done the job. It's racist and retarded sounding. Michael Bay caught the same flack for using white actors (the Guy who does Spongebob's voice) to do negative A.A. stereotype characters in Transformers Revenge of the Fallen. It sounds like a minstrel show. It's too over the top and forced.
  • pot - September 2, 2011 9:52 a.m.

    Except it wasn't a white woman who did the voice, it was an African American, there were 5-6 African American men and women voice actors in DXHR.
  • Kayden - September 5, 2011 7:50 a.m.

    I don't disagree it has no soul, but what your saying is that a Black woman can't do a Asian voice? It's voice acting for crying out loud, nothing is going to be perfect or cater to a perfect order, there will always be a person behind the mic that doesn't sound perfect, even if they are from that ethnic group. Now, what it might have happened is that they could have had little to no training, either brought in off the street or new to doing voice overs, was nervous to be reading the lines and they could have just used their real voice, problem is you don't know! and neither do I for that matter, but what I do know is you are letting your point of view of race factor into it instead of being objective.
  • jake66play - September 1, 2011 1:20 p.m.

    i havent played the game but that when i clicked the video tbh i didnt expect her to sound like that, and i agree it is a bit over the top but not that serious. Trying to get this game for free here can you help me out by registering from this link and complete one offer, who knows you might get free games too
  • Overlord153 - September 1, 2011 11:55 a.m.

    I'm black and i found this a little over the top but not rascist. When I first heard her voice it was just "WTF SquareEnix." Then I remembered her name was Latisha. But the voice acting can get weird with some characters. Like that hostage in the first mission. At first I thought she was a man. Also my reCAPTCHA had justice in it. LOL
  • InfinityPrimo - September 1, 2011 2:48 p.m.

    If it was "over the top" then it was racist.
  • Rockstar4Life - September 1, 2011 11:21 a.m.

    Wow. Are we really talking about racism in a video game, AGAIN?! First off, anyone that sees that as racist, get over yourself. I havent come across that character yet in the game, but in the few minutes I saw in the video, not even 1% of me thought it was racist. The people who think stuff like that is racist are people that have nothing better to do than pick apart every little thing they see in media and see if everything is politically correct. Again, get over yourselves, its a damn video game. I'm not prejudiced or racist by any means, but why is it whenever a racism issue comes up in the media, its always a black, or excuse me :clears throat:, african american issue. I never see any issues about asians, indians, latinos or any other race make as much a big deal about things as when it refers to african american issues being politically correct. Another thing, are you honestly gonna sit there and tell me that NO black person talks like that nowadays? Not one? They make SONGS thats speak and sing like that, WORSE actually. STOP picking apart every little thing you see in games and movies and just enjoy them. Or in other words grow up, think outside the stereotypical box, and shut up.
  • InfinityPrimo - September 1, 2011 2:46 p.m.

    You see its not picking it apart. This is was part of my field in college. Its the blatant disregard of racial representations. WHY couldn't she be a black lady with a normal EFFING VOICE? Do you actually think that because a "song" may speak worse than this portrayal that its justified? You see you are being unreasonable. Unwilling to admit that this game's portrayal (as comical as it is) doesn't just do the job of racism blatantly, it also sums of the culmination of most black stereotypes in video games. Its icing on the cake. Not 1% is racist!? Are you kidding me? Listen I'm not some "Black" militant, or even a Cornell West for that matter, but you are one of the few people I can say to that "you have no clue because you are not black". I ALMOST NEVER say that. Lastly, lest you forget, you can say "black" as the word African American is also a word conjured up through racial undertones, because black people in America had no idea what to call themselves before the civil rights movement. I'm not calling you racist dude. I'm saying you should really think about it and say that "wow this sh!t isnt right" (but it is kinda funny) Which is what I thought. However funny it was most black people over the age of 25 will find this VERY racist. Imagine a black person watching this who NEVER played a video game, or even a WHITE person for that matter! They would probably find it racist.
  • azureguy - September 1, 2011 9:35 a.m.

    You know, people are making it an issue just because they thread it as racism - you know that, right? Without the news and discussion everywhere, some players of the game would've experienced the scene and never thought of it as racism. This is just a video game and not A Raisin in the Sun for god's sake! The discussion about Resident Evil 5 I could understand, even if it was ridiculous, but this? Not worth the hazzle.
  • CitizenThom - September 1, 2011 9:22 a.m.

    Is the evergoing search for something to call racist, racist? I'm gonna say yes. Stop looking for boogey men and get on with enjoying life. Or in my best Jesse Jackson impersonation, "Down with dopes, up with hope." ha ha.
  • MyCoolWhiteLies - September 1, 2011 9:02 a.m.

    When Jim Sterling calls something out on having an offensive characterization ( you know it's pretty bad. The thing is that it's almost too ridiculous to be offensive. It's just plain bad. When I first saw a video of this, I assumed it was a joke voiceover because I didn't believe something that stupid sounding made it into the final game. It's completely at odds with the quality of the rest of the game, which is almost uniformly excellent. Also, no one should ever leave it up to Internet commenters to determine whether or not something is racist. I can't think of many groups less likely to come up with an insightful answer to that. And yes, I understand the irony in me saying this as an Internet commenter.
  • cj12297 - September 1, 2011 8:32 a.m.

    The voice acting in this game sounds awful.
  • inkyspot - September 1, 2011 6:17 a.m.

    Celticlupin13 Damn I would love to see if you'd say that to my face, Internet gangster. Not all of us are fat nerds with small hands.(stereotypes) I would die to stop at lease 3 stupid people from making children. The game plays off stereotypes, so it's story is not it's strong point, it's more nostalgic than anything I suppose.
  • Celticlupin13 - September 2, 2011 8:28 a.m.

    Say what, "it's up your ally", or "you can't comment twice"... neither sound like insults. And i am not an internet gangster, i am the Ayatollah of Rock n' Rollah

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