The Luke Cage Fallacy of Glorifying Toxic Black People

By:  H.T., Website:  Rogue Black Nerd

This is Nicky Barnes.  By 1977, the time of this cover being shot and released, he and his council of 6 other drug dealers were the most dominant drug dealers in all of New York.  Despite his years of selling heroin to the black community, he was hailed as a hero and thus was able to go for as long as he did with his business.  I bring him up because I think the black community needs to have a come to Jesus moment about why, on the whole, we as a community love to root for the very people that hurt us simply because they are us.  But I want to talk about it through a bit of a filter I think will better illustrate my and many other people’s frustrations with this pathology.

Luke Cage has become a much bigger superhero in pop culture, likely second only to Black Panther in popularity in the black community.  All this being said, I think something must be said about how the kinds of heroes and even villains in comics that the black community loves to prop up as cool or whatever.  I saw this with Killmonger, but in hindsight the beginning came with how some people received the messages that Luke Cage was putting out.  People often complain about respectability politics in his message, but you know what?  Respectability politics actually does work and ironically the very people who tend to rail against it tend to be the very people who benefit from it.  All these bloggers, with just looking at these people, these are people that got to their comfortable lives BECAUSE corporate America sees them as valuable in such environments.  Yes, being respectable won’t change the fact that some cops are racist and the fact that people in high places won’t like you, true, but please consider the fact that they only got to be where they are because they support the narrative that issues like class, economic disenfranchisement, hazard reduction of our neighborhoods lack in comparison to women not being represented enough in mainstream media and canceling a problematic artist.  

I say that black people would root for a villain if he or she said the right things because even now, the most regressive voices in black media are the loudest because we have become so entrenched in our cognitive dissonance, either for social capital, networking or just attempting to stay on the good side of whatever person is the unofficial leader of their circle, that it’s been proven that people will pay them just because they agree with them.

Enter the analogy about super villains.  In the culture we’re in, it’s so easy to worship black people even fictional bad guys with no powers.  How many rappers do you see with some sort of Scarface memorabilia?  How many young black men walk away from watching New Jack City to the end and still wish they were Nino Brown?  Hell, how many black men do you see now glorifying Pablo Escobar and El Chapo?

Hell, give a black villain even basic abilities like say Deathstroke or Taskmaster and even if this man killed thousands in a month, he would be praised as a “real nigga” which could go into what Gil said about coddling the most regressive and toxic elements of the black community.  But if you want to see how deep in the forest we are lost as a people, make said villain a black woman (bonus points if she’s dark skinned), unattractive or in a relationship with a white guy, and the entire “black men are trash” blogosphere will make her their patron saint.  Hell, these are the same people that have proven that Beyonce could start her own Zaibatsu if she wanted.  So it wouldn’t be a stretch that these same women would back a black woman who could potentially stand to flood a major city or take out an entire police force.  No matter the act, there would be think pieces about how it’s feminist to rob the federal reserve and how whatever superhero force hunting her down is using its internalized misogyny to go after her.

I say this because as I write this, the death toll in cities like Chicago is steadily rising, at it could be solved in a week if everyone handed their criminal relatives over to the cops.  But they won’t.  We’re afraid of what it will say about us but at this point, I say they’re expendable.  What do we gain by protecting people in our community that do nothing but destroy it further?  Fuck these “real niggas”, let’s cut them loose and get back to being black men.

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