My Superhero Is Black

By Alyssa Rosenberg

Gene Demby has a true barnburner of a piece in this month’s American Prospect breaking down America’s fears of a black superhero. He writes:

A purple-skinned alien hurtles across the cosmos, bearing a ring that grants its wearer unimaginable power. The alien is mortally wounded, and the ring is seeking its next wearer — the Green Lantern, Earth’s champion — by finding the planet’s most courageous inhabitant. In a world with billions of people, what are the chances that the ring’s next owner is a white American dude?Pretty high, apparently…In the early days, whiteness was so pervasive in comics that it could actually span the universe: a Kryptonian Superman could crash-land in Kansas and pass as an ordinary white farm boy.

You really should read the whole thing. It’s a critical reminder of how resistant our popular culture can be to images of black power. And if we want different kinds of superhero stories, focusing on different heroes, whether they’re protecting their countries from colonization, trying to balance their duties as crimefighters with their day job as Secretary of Education, or working in superheroically under-served communities (not to mention pioneering new areas of legal practice—I want my She-Hulk movie), is the quickest way to find ones worth telling. There are only so many ways to portray yet another white dude trying to come to terms with his newfound specialness.