(h/t ALL OF TUMBLR APPARENTLY)
Indeed, if a character is not white, some people will cry out that their racial identity is the product of political agenda-driven tampering. If a character is white, the same people will comfortably assume that he or she came out of the box like that.
It should be noted that we’re not even talking about the broad US census category of “white”, which covers people whose families hail from Europe, North Africa or the Middle East — including many people with tan, olive or ruddy skin.
In comics, whiteness is predominantly represented by the pale pink complexions of Northern Europeans — the color once problematically referred to as “Flesh” on Crayola crayons, until Crayola changed it to “Peach” in 1962. Real world white comes in many shades, but in comics all white people seem to trend towards hex color #FFCFAB. (Individual colorists may of course bring more nuance to their work, but how many white superheroes can you name who are consistently portrayed with bronze or olive-toned skin?)
Superhero comics don’t actually favor whiteness; they favor a subset of whiteness that borders on Aryan idealism. We ought to regard that as uncomfortably fetishistic, because it’s an aesthetic that the industry has chosen.
All fiction is manufactured. Authors make their worlds and choose what goes in them. It is always possible to contrive a fictional justification for a character looking whichever way the author wants, up to and including finding a way to make a white person the hero in a story about, say, feudal Japan, or ancient Egypt, or Persia during the Islamic Golden Age. A white hero is not the most likely scenario, but it’s always a possible scenario, so in that way it always becomes justified.
The decision to cast Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch has been called out by message board posters as evidence of an agenda at work — but white heroes in these non-white settings are rarely called out as similar evidence of an agenda. It’s all artifice, it’s all contrived. Fiction exists in service to an author’s design. All fiction serves an agenda, whether it’s articulated or not.
All of this.
As I’ve noted before, putting people of color or gay people or a realistic number of women (hi there, crowd scenes with 17% women!) in your world isn’t an “agenda.” It’s acknowledging reality.
NOT having gay people, people of color, etc. is an agenda.
And if it’s not intentional, that doesn’t really excuse it. The idea that it can happen and be unintentional is a more stinging condemnation of our society’s racism, sexism, and homophobia than the existence of the Klan or Proposition 8 or any other active example. Sane people can all get behind the idea that the KKK is a bad thing. Increasing numbers of sane people are getting behind the idea that it’s not really the business of anyone who’s not invited to the wedding which two consenting adults get married.
But the passive acceptance that people who do important things, people who are worth telling stories about, people who are worth listening to, people who are worth being seen are automatically white (and straight, and male) is the severed artery that’s bleeding us out. It paves the way for actively terrible things to happen, and for people to shake their heads and tsk and acknowledge that it’s terrible, but it’s the way the world works, so what are you going to do?
It’s not the way the world has to work. And acknowledging in our stories that humans—and heroes—don’t have a default race or gender or orientation is a good way to start changing it.
9-year-old boy was executed in Chicago: Where is the outrage?
August 25, 2014
Antonio Smith, 9 years old, was assassinated the other day.
He was Chicago’s youngest fatal shooting victim this year. He was shot at least four times and fell in a backyard on the South Side.
And when I went out there on 71st and Woodlawn less than 24 hours after he was murdered, here’s what I didn’t see:
I didn’t see protesters waving their hands in the air for network TV cameras. I didn’t see the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson playing their usual roles in the political race card game.
I didn’t see white college anarchists hiding behind their white plastic Guy Fawkes masks talking about being oppressed by the state. I didn’t see politicians equivocating. But the worst thing I didn’t see was this:
But in Chicago, a black child is assassinated, and Attorney General Eric Holder isn’t on his way here. There are no hashtag campaigns saying #saveourboys. And instead of loud anger, there is numb silence.
"It’s only the second day. I don’t know what will happen," said Helen Cross, 82, a neighbor who lives down the street from the shooting. She’s lived in the neighborhood for 49 years.
"Everybody says it’s a shame," she said. "It was terrible. But nobody’s … nobody is …"
Her voice trailed off.
She nodded."A lot of people don’t want to be involved until it happens to their family," said her son, Lewis Cross. "And that’s the shame."
The screamers and the race hustlers buzzing in Ferguson like flies have it easy: White cop/black victim is a script that sells, and the TV cameras come running.
But in Chicago, young African-American and Latino men and boys and girls are shot down far too regularly, by neighbors, meaning other black and Latinos.
Venting outrage at police is easier, and it’s politically advantageous. Venting at neighbors is a bit more complicated and dangerous. The neighbors will still be there on the block long after the columnists and the TV cameras leave. People are afraid. They don’t want their children to pay for anything they might say.
"This city is crazy," said neighbor Arnold Caffey, a mechanic from Detroit. "I mean, Detroit is better than this."
We were sitting on his porch out of the rain.
"A baby has been assassinated, and where’s the anger?" he asked. "When that child was shot, some people out there were still drinking, I’m saying a baby has been assassinated, they’re like, well, they don’t care."
What if the shooter had been police officer — a white police officer?
"You know what would happen, the whole Ferguson thing," Caffey said. "But it’s not."
The Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor at St. Sabina Roman Catholic Church, has consistently condemned the violence in Chicago. He doesn’t flit in or out of town. He’s always here and was scheduled to lead a neighborhood prayer vigil Thursday evening.
"This 9-year-old boy — in my mind — when you get multiple shots for a 9-year-old boy in a back alley, that’s an execution," he said in a telephone interview before the event. "That’s not a drive-by, that’s not an accident. That sounds like an execution."
He’s been outspoken about Ferguson, but he knows that moral outrage is undercut if there’s silence over the assassination of a child.
"We cannot simply be outraged about something that happens someplace else and get immune to what happens at home," he said. "This is pure evil.
"We have to be absolutely outraged. And we have to say, ‘We’re going to find out who you are, and we’re going to turn you in because you’re not going to get by with this. You can’t kill a 9-year-old kid and go home and eat McDonald’s and watch TV.’"
Antonio Smith was shot in a backyard that borders a railroad viaduct on 71st Street. To the east, the gang that runs things is called Sircon City. To the west, a group called Pocket Town runs the show. Police say he was not a gang member.
Cynthia Smith-Thigpen, a retired Chicago Public Schools teacher, talked about the lack of public outrage.
"There’s shamelessness to the silence over this boy’s death," she said. "It’s like, ‘Oh, another child dead in Chicago.’ Perhaps we’re all numb to what goes on in this city."
Out there was a concrete pad where a garage once stood, and thick grass in the yard and bushes around the edges. And there was the rain and the silence in Pocket Town.
I stood off to the side and pictured Antonio in my mind. Was he running? Were his hands raised the way activists said Michael Brown’s hands were raised in Ferguson?
Antonio was a baby. He didn’t allegedly steal cigars or threaten a shopkeeper or punch a cop. He was 9 years old. He was targeted. He was murdered.
"People need to be angry, but this isn’t TV, and some people really don’t care," said neighbor Tony Miller, who has a son about Antonio’s age. "And people who don’t live here don’t want to know, but people get killed all the time."
Antonio’s funeral is scheduled for this Saturday morning. If anyone has any information about any rallies, organizing meetings or any support funds for his family, please feel free to message us.
This is horrible to hear.
"Men’s Rights" activist and self-proclaimed philosopher Stefan Molyneux pretends to be a woman posting a positive comment on his own video “debunking” Frozen but completely fails at account switching
You will remember there was no road—not even a pathway—between the castle of the Wicked Witch and the Emerald City. When the four travelers went in search of the Witch she had seen them coming, and so sent the Winged Monkeys to bring them to her. It was much harder to find their way back through the big fields of buttercups and yellow daisies than it was being carried. They knew, of course, they must go straight east, toward the rising sun; and they started off in the right way.
Always tricky to find something compositionally interesting to do with these “walking in a direction” chapters. Happy with this one though, and it’s the chronologically first time we’ll see everybody in their New Outfits. I like big meaningful costume changes and it’s something I pay a huge amount of attention to in my own work (or I guess the work that is more fully mine, let’s say).
I’m also working lately on some mockups for the cover of this thing. More as situation develops.
Aminata, School exam work, Gaye Njorro School of Hairdressing and Beauty Cosmetology, the Gambia. Photo Valeria Herklotz.
Your attention’s been caught. You’re alert to this. You feel …
This is important to me. This is emotionally fraught. This is trying to tell me something. I have to take this in.
You freeze up. You enter a state of high alert.
What is it?
What is it that matters to you like this? Is it
- something that’s happening?
- something that a person is doing?
- a story someone is telling?
- an explanation or lecture someone is giving?
- a prophecy you’re reading?
- a dream somebody is telling you about?
- an advertisement for toothpaste?
- the sound of something clicking, clicking, and growing steadily closer?
- a warning?
- the way the number 19 keeps coming up?
- a child screaming?
- a dog growling?
- rain beginning to fall?
Whatever it is you’ve just realized that it’s incredibly important to your life. You’ve just realized that it’s got something to tell you about you. You’ve just realized that it has a personal weight of meaning that might go well beyond the obvious — this rain, to take a silly example, is a significant metaphor for your life; or, it’s going to ruin something you left outside at home.
Only then — you don’t jump into action. You don’t announce that it’s foreshadowing. You don’t say, “Aha, that thing that just happened was important.”
Instead, … you pause.
Maybe on a player level, you’re taking an XP token. You’re rolling a hand for people to continue talking. You’re going, “Go on.” or “Foreshadowing.” But IC?
You go still.
You take it in.
And there’s a lot of reasons why I’d have you do that. You pause so that there’s a price, of at least the smallest sort, to be paid. You pause so that there’s an action, however passive, to be taken. You pause because pausing to take it in is what people do when important things happen, both in reality and in drama. You pause so that the reward for someone else telling a cool story, or the HG describing something meaningful, isn’t interrupting it as fast as possible (c.f. Blade Bunny) —
But anyway, you spend a little while longer, after you noticed that there was foreshadowing going on, just … taking it in.
Then, quite probably, you react.
P.S. it’s called Foreshadowing because if you spend ten minutes with the HG or a player doing a dramatic retelling of Red Riding Hood, and players/characters actually care? The laws of narrative physics say that it’s probably foreshadowing something. More practically, it’s because you’re more likely to remember that moment later … it’s more likely to have actually contributed something to your gaming experience … if it turns out later that it foreshadowed something, and I don’t really care about what the XP Actions you don’t remember taking were. ^_^