Superhero Comics Train Kids in Authoritarian Politics

By Teka Lark (October 16, 2018)

Black Panther was created by Stan Lee. He appropriated the Black Power (Lowndes County Freedom Fighting Organization) movement and drenched it in his US capitalist bullshit. Stan Lee’s politics are crap. He is a Democrat, but he is the neoliberal authoritarian brand of progressive, which is right wing anywhere but here.

He also pushes exceptionalism, you are different, but if you are magical, then it is OK.

Not all of us different people have magic.

I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade. You believe or think what ever you want, and representation is important.

Whoever you are, you want your kid to be a superhero? Go for it! You want to build that kind of lack of imagination in your child? Go for it.

And stop acting confused when boys are violent, even the “good” people in the US are violent. Dress your kid up like any violent superhero that you want, because sometimes you have to kill people, because they are bad. Who is bad? The people who the winners say are bad. Winners never lie. Native Americans sold their land and Africans, hey! we volunteered to come here.

I don’t like superhero comics. I don’t like “this is the bad guy and this is the good guy” comics. I don’t like games where someone MUST lose. I don’t like binaries, this Black and White nonsense. I don’t like it.

We want an anti bullying playground, but the US has a bullying culture. Where someone has to be on the bottom, because if someone else isn’t hurt or sad then how do we know we are winning, right?

The US also has a not so shockingly lack of vision.

This is not about everyone getting a participation trophy, this is about what kind of culture are we fostering, and from where I am sitting we are fostering a rather cruel and petty US and we are training out kids to admire tiny petty authoritarian dictators.

So what do I think about kids dressing up as Black Panther: is it appropriation? do you have to be a certain race? The answer to that is that you are asking the wrong question.


Wakandans are not Black and Killmonger is Right

By Tommy J. Curry (February 20, 2018)

It is so funny to me how all these commentaries on Black Panther are coming out without really any understanding of the MCU. Black people love pretending they are overnight specialists in anything Black.

You do understand that if you accept the existence of Wakanda, you also accept the existence of mutants like Storm, meta-humans, and the multiverse, alternative Earths where Black people would not be oppressed, time travel, & evolutionary powers unlocked by natural selection.

In that world, with the Silver Surfer and Galactus, Killmonger could in fact be right. Humanity is doomed in comics. That’s what makes super-heroes cool. Wakanda is like Themyscira in a lot of ways, so why ruin it with these narrow politics that are fueled largely by misunderstandings of nationalist and feminist gender politics.

Wakanda does not have the same understandings of men and women as the rest of the world…You can’t use Western concepts of thought to analyze a nation that literally evolved separately from the rest of civilization. Their societies are based in animal deities…the Black Panther, the white Gorilla, and I think Lions…How do you get the same concepts with these idols.

And just so you know…Wakandans are mutants…Vibranium causes mutations just like Captain America’s serum, so they do not share all of the physiological properties of “normal” humans.

A more interesting question would be why are we so keen as reading them as Black. Do you think Wakandans would really see us as the same? Why do you think so? Oh, because we have the same skin color…See this is what is funny to me…Wakanda is an example of a superior race (Wakandans) who are in Africa. They stand apart from every Black race. Notice, the movie is about how a Wakandan is raised (mistakenly) as Black, and how because he Wakandan, he was left amongst a decadent world full of violence. You are missing that this is not about Blackness, but the racialization of Wakandan’s who are debating if they are Black like we are. That’s what is powerful.

AND this points out that we have not evolved to a point in our thinking where you can see HUMANS with Black skin without imposing Blackness (our histories of racial inferiority upon them). The beauty of Wakanda is that it shows a superior humanity, technology, and world with Black skin that is not limited by race…they could be aliens who landed in Africa literally. But we are so trapped by our thinking that we can’t see that what Wakanda really is…what it represents…is so far beyond our imagination…that our thinking about it is ruining it.

Said differently, Killmonger has to be right…otherwise there would be no need for you to actually celebrate the movie. There has to be a relationship between Black skin and slavery. This is literally what he says when he dies, which is why he says his ancestors are different and would not live in cages, because in Wakanda death means something completely different. He is saying he is Black not Wakandan.


Black Panther is Popular, but Black People Still Marginalized

By S. (February 15, 2018)

I’m looking forward to the new Black Panther movie too, but first, let’s have a little talk about race.

Since being kidnapped from Africa, black people have been marginalized. Marginalized means we have been placed at the margins, we are never centered. Our rights, our voices, our experiences, our lives, our needs, our everything, are at the margins of American society (a society shared between black people and white people, and many other marginalized races and ethnicities). Historically black people went to black schools, had black doctors, and lived in black neighborhoods. Things are slowly changing and we are in some ways less marginalized physically but we are still marginalized socially. In mainstream movies we are in supporting roles but we are not the central characters, we are the marginal characters (i.e. the sassy black girlfriend, the wise old man who gives advice, the scary thug who threatens the main character). Things are changing, Moonlight won best film, Hidden Figures was a surprise hit, and we have Black Panther coming soon.

But the marginalization is embedded in every aspect of society, even our interpersonal relationships. In our friendships with non-black people, we often find our blackness marginalized. This is where things get sad, and this is what I want to talk about. In order to make my non-white friends comfortable, I am often the one who is marginalizing my blackness. Sometimes I am asked to do this, and sometimes I do it of my own volition. What I am saying is that I have to police my behavior around white people. Everyone should police their behavior around each other though (we call it having manners), but there is an aspect of myself, my life, and my experiences that is born out of my blackness, that has to be especially carefully managed around my white friends. I have to think carefully about how I say things, some topics I just don’t speak up on, and some of my great joys in life you don’t get to be a part of.

We look for common ground with our white friends. But for so long our culture, religion, society, and norms have been centered around whiteness, that our common ground with you is going to be white. We can’t ask you to understand and relate to our black experiences and black selves, because the lack of centering means you have an incomplete understanding, at best, of what it means to be black. So we, your black friends, come to you using our cultural understandings of whiteness. Now this is the easy setting, imagine what it is like when I have to find common ground with someone who is not as enlightened about race as you are.

First, I’d like to give a non-racial example of finding common ground between friends. I hate Twin Peaks. My friends B. and J. love Twin Peaks. They tell me that they love Twin Peaks because they want to share something they love with someone they love. Now, I like knowing that they love Twin Peaks because it means I have a little bit more information about who they are. Maybe I’ll send them both Valentine’s Days cards featuring the Log Lady. Knowing that a Twin Peaks card would put a smile on their faces makes smile too. But neither B. nor J. will spend much time talking to me about Twin Peaks, because they know I don’t like it. To an extent, they are policing their behavior around me. (Even though I called this example non-racial, it is racial simply because Twin Peaks is a TV show with few, if any, black characters that is written, directed, and produced by white people).

What about mainstream black people like Michael Jackson, Sidney Poitier, Sammy Davis Jr, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Snoop Dog, Mr. T, Li’l Wayne, et al.? In order for them to become mainstream (i.e. escape the margins) they had to think long and hard about their blackness—how to represent it and what to omit. Even if black figures and leaders are deciding to show our warts (i.e. gangsta rap) to the mainstream, it is still done with thought and consideration.

I’m talking about how we connect with each other. We are all looking for common ground. Our disagreements can be used to help us better pinpoint our commonalities. Though too often we use our disagreements as excuses not to get closer. When black people look for common ground, most of that common ground is centered around whiteness. What we share in common with you is based on tastes, norms, and ideas that are most likely centered around white perspectives, what do white people like, and what corporations controlled mainly by white people think will sell. Basically, when white and black people come together in friendship, chances are very good that the black person has done a lot more work, and has much more knowledge of white culture than the white person has of black culture.

Watching Black Panther does not make you a good ally. I’m not looking for allies; I want friends who get me. I want to be my authentic self around you. I want friends who get that that my experiences may not only differ from yours, but might seem scary and threatening to you because they are so far from our white-centered mainstream. You don’t have to agree with me, and you don’t have to like a lot of what I’m saying, but you should be open and willing to listen. And when it comes to creating the common ground between us, you should be willing and respectful enough to exclude elements that I may find racially insensitive, even if you don’t understand why. Yes, this is a secret pink pussy hat post.

Movements are built from relationships. If we want our movements to be strong, we need to strengthen our connections and relationships. Most of us are marginalized in many ways. And even though they are not marginalized, sometimes the needs of cishet white men are ignored (e.g. the damage caused by toxic masculinity, or the drastic decline in life expectancy of white men without college degrees). We strengthen our connections by listening, being present, and by not being resistant to each other’s perspectives. How can we create common ground? How can I push past my resistance and my limited perspectives to understand what my women friends are saying, what my trans friends are saying, what my friends with physically challenges are saying, or even what my cishet white male friends are saying? How can we use the experiences of our friends to change our behaviors for the better? This is my challenge, but it is your challenge. If we succeed we change the world. If we fail we crumble away in squabbling, yelling factions.