There’s a lot to unpack from LL Cool J’s recent appearance on The Tonight Show: his statements that “you can’t fit 300 to 400 years” into a song like ‘Accidental Racist,'” and that he would never compare the Confederate flag to a do-rag–despite his linking the two in the line, “If you don’t judge my do rag, I won’t judge your red flag.”
But his insistence on defining the “conversation” (read: nearly unanimous critical disdain) around the song around “extremes” stuck out for the wrong reasons for me. It smacked of the same kind of defensiveness the comics industry has been deploying more and more in recent years. Continue reading →
On Monday I posted how DC Comics had published a corrected version of the Flash family from Flashpoint #1. This portrait included the granddaughter of Barry Allen properly portrayed as a black woman. In the pages that were included in DC’s Green Lantern Free Comic Book Day issue, she has been colored and presented as a mysterious white member of the Flash family.
How did this happen? I have no idea. I asked DC if they wanted to comment on it yesterday, but my email has not been responded to. Neither have I seen any explanation. And even if they did respond, I am sure that they would say it was a “mistake.”
But a mistake that changes one of the few women of color in the Flash family, one of the few women of color in the Legion, one of the few women of color in comics is more than a mistake. It’s a painful reminder that in comics, white is the default. White is the majority. White is the easy choice because you have, according to Marvel’s Tom Brevoort, only a 1% chance of being wrong.
Marvel Comics has spared no effort over the past few years to redefine its’ Avengers franchise as a cornerstone: even before Marvel Films launched the series of movies – Iron Man in 2008, and this year’s Captain America and Thor releases – to culminate in the team getting its’ own movie, the company has made sure the Avengers were at the center of crossover stories like Civil War, Secret Invasion, Siege, and this year, Fear Itself.
“They’re the varsity. They’re the A-list,” Senior Vice-President of Publishing Tom Breevort told Comic Book Resources in an interview. “They’re the Man. They’re not about being super heroes because of demographics or ethnicity. They stand for something specific and occupy a certain role. If you don’t have some degree of that, then it doesn’t feel like Avengers.”
Unfortunately, an ensuing discussion of the criteria needed for a story to bear the Avengers brand went to some depressingly familiar territory. Continue reading →
Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World