I’m going to relate a little something that happened the other night on Facebook… Hope you’ll get something from it.
There’s a cat named David La Forest who’s been trying to start up a new comic publisher called Asani Entertainment (@AsaniEntertain on Twitter). He shared an article that Pittsburgh City Paper had written about him with a comic collectors’ forum on Facebook. La Forest is planning to launch a Kickstarter to help fund his dream of a graphic novel to kick off a new line of superheroes.
As the article states, “a new superhero universe, inclusive of all but examined through the lens of characters of color.” The first comment on David’s post was a comic reader in North Dakota’s simple but eloquent, two-word response: “Fuck that.”
The respondent continued on to say “down with making new characters of color but to make a separate universe for that i call bull crap.”
When I pointed out that, of course there needed to be a “new universe” for David’s work (he can’t just add characters to Marvel or DC) the North Dakota man said we don’t need a publisher “centered on superheroes of color” and that “the center should be on story not race. So was he trying to say that superheroes should be white? Or that white is the default race for all storytelling? Was he saying that Black characters or characters of colour (pardon the extra U. I’m Canadian.) can be in the background but not stars?
When I asked him, he said that “a comic should be story driven not focused on race.” This is the lamest defence of racism ever.
This is a man who, to paraphrase La Forest himself, doesn’t want to share the swimming pool. Why can’t stories centre/be about on race? It’s absurd and incredibly small-minded to think they can’t.
The offended Dakotan comic reader accused La Forest of “hypocrisy” in the creation of his vision. Apparently, creating something you find lacking in current media is “hypocrisy”. No, sir… hypocrisy is saying you support characters of colour as long as they stay in the background where they belong. He tried to defend himself. He asked “why should anyone make a universe focused or catered to colored individuals?” He said if David had “just said he was creating another universe in which he will make positive role models then [he’d] have no issue”.
So I asked him why he didn’t ask for actual clarification instead of responding with “fuck that”? I then uncorked the following: “Don’t tell ANY creator how to create. They are following THEIR vision, whatever that may be. If you like the final product, so be it. If you don’t like it, so be that too. But the hubris to tell someone what they’re… doing [is] WRONG is offensive in and of itself.”
Then we got to the heart of it with this guy.
He said “i said and kept “fuck that” because i dont like seeing any race being portrayed as better than in any way shape or form and when i read that this was focused on colored characters that is what i believe to be a wrong way to go into anything”
So simply writing a story focused on a character of colour is “portraying them as better”? This is the basic Black Lives/All Lives Matter argument. No one’s saying Black Lives Matter MORE just that Black Lives Matter TOO! And some people are screwed up enough to think that is someone else is made EQUAL to them, that they themselves are somehow diminished.
Anyways, I left the conversation soon afterwards. Sometimes I get tired of trying to teach people who DO NOT want to learn. But I will repeat here how this story concluded that night for me. I went to my own Facebook timeline and wrote the following…
If you complained that the new Star Wars trilogy features a woman and a black man… if you’re upset that the new Star Trek features an Asian female captain and a black female XO… if you’re disturbed by how unapologetically African the new Black Panther movie looks… GET THE FUCK OVER YOURSELF OR GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE WAY.
Thank you for reading these words. In the fall, I hope you’ll all be reading my new graphic novel, #HeroesOfHomeroomC. Peace.