Does Every Black Super Hero Need to Face Racism in the Same Way?

By:  H.T.

As Black Panther edges closer to its premiere in theaters, I’m left to ask a question that many would label me a coon for asking.  The question being that, in the year 2017, does a black hero necessarily NEED to fight racism?

Yes, it’s 2017 and police brutality is still very much a reality, along with the fact that we have a President that at the very least has no problem appealing to racists.  Add the rising tide of white nationalists, and yes, it’s very scary.

On one hand, it can be a bit cathartic to see a black person punching a racist figure in the face.  It might not make up for years of racism, both overt and institutionalized, but it does FEEL good to see.

Fact is, the part of the representation argument I can get behind is the idea of black heroes either who are new people who took up the mantle or are entirely new characters together.  Turning Peter Parker black isn’t good to me because frankly I want to see what Peter Parker’s actions and choices that have effects beyond him looks like from a completely new and compelling perspective.  Enter Miles Morales.

I offer the idea not that racism shouldn’t have to be a factor, but that if it’s used, we could have a hero face racism in different ways.  I mean, how many times can you do a story about police brutality, or white supremacists, or just some dickheads who want black people dead?

Let me give you an example:  what if we had a black hero like Riri or Miles, but in the community they’re in, they have to deal with the code switching if working with white or non-black heroes that see them as “one of the good ones” while not only being distant from their black counterparts, but also how they relate to the communities that need them?  What if we covered a biracial hero that still deals with white people’s awkward projections of his identity while dealing with the black community not thinking he’s actually for them?

I liked that Sam Wilson dealt with the fact that when he was Captain America, much of Steve’s peers weren’t too keen on the idea.  Sam Wilson has always been a hero that cared about his community, but there were things I wanted to see.  I wanted to see interviews with both black and white media, I GOT to see him interact with other black heroes, but what I wanted was pointless in regard to what I got.

You know what I really want?  Give me a superhero with the story of O.J. Simpson.  Just show me a black superhero that in his own way learns the hard truth about America and racism.  Show me a hero, much like with Blue Marvel, that was beloved by America till they realized they couldn’t ignore his blackness.

I say all this because I tire of seeing the same stories of corrupt cops, Nazis, and KKK members.  If I have to deal with racism in a comic book, do it in a way that I’ve seen, that I’ve dealt with.  Because, really, how many times can one make a book like Nighthawk?  How many times can we make heroes deal with racism more how we think of it instead of how we usually see it?  Fact is, the average black person deals with microaggressions more that overt and explicit racism, but we still know the racism is there.  So how about dealing with racism as we tend to see it more or less in the lionized fashion that makes us feel like proud victims?

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