The obvious reason for more diversity and inclusion in comics is to allow marginalized people to better identify with the characters. For white fans, whether they are willing to accept it or not, the white default actually makes characters less interesting. A bold claim, I know, but bear with me. Superheroes, I think, are more interesting for being more human, for having trauma, hardship, and conflict. To the great extent that white folks – particularly cisgendered heterosexual men – have privilege and power, it further insulates them against the kinds of scenarios that give birth to heroes.
This whole Virginia drama is revealing something important about the current Democratic establishment, something which has implications for both past and future, including the election of Donald Trump. That something is that Democrats are symbolic politicians, concerned more with the image of doing the right thing, than actually doing it. Where they effect policies that actually make a positive difference in people’s lives, it is usually reactive, a case of them “holding the line” against the worst abuses of the Republicans.
There has undoubtedly been one person, or ten, or even one thousand black people who have gone through their lives with little to no observable experience with racism, don’t consciously feel its impact, and for that manage to gain some degree of success or wealth or high quality of life. Their experiences do not invalidate the very real existence of systems that make such outcomes more unlikely for the rest of us. Systems that privilege white people at the expense of people of color.
The recent accusations against Quantic Dream founder David Cage do not exist in a vacuum, nor without precedent. He wants to be judged by his work, and indeed if one looks critically at his games, a theme emerges. People of color are reduced to caricatures, invoke harmful stereotypes, and should remain at the margins, if they appear at all. Even if that means literally erasing them from settings where they predominate. This is not the cross-burning of the past or the anger-marching racism so en vogue these days, but the more deeply entrenched racism underlying all of our media institutions.
Diverse representations of black people in media has nothing to do with “political correctness”. It has little to do with fairness, either. This is not a zero-sum game by which black gain equals white loss. What it concerns, most significantly, is the acceptance of this proposal that Black Lives Matter. That Black People Matter. Black representations are a matter of survival. Of casting us as fully-realized human beings with thoughts, feelings, dreams, aspirations, complexity, agency — against a backdrop that explicitly shows and tells us (everyone) that the opposite is true.
Sometimes it’s tucked away, hidden just beneath the tongue, or in the sly twist of the mouth…
Anti-blackness is so pervasive that I think media creators aren’t even aware of how they present it on a regular basis. That’s me giving them the benefit of the doubt, in spite of all the evidence that suggests it’s intentional.
A contemplation of the revolutionary potential of teaching black kids Mandarin. Beyond allowing black people to have more mobility within a new power structure, fluency in Mandarin would allow us to spread our own influence. Our revolutionary spirit writ large to resonate with people around the world…
When you hear the name Thomas Jefferson, it is likely followed by “founding father”, “hero”, “patriot”, and other such reverent terms. But he should also be considered one of the Founding Fathers of white supremacy. Nearly every white supremacist idea, claim, or rationale, can be found in Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia…
What does any black person stand to gain from sitting in a dark movie theater—more than likely surrounded by white people—and being psychologically assaulted for two hours? Will we then turn to those white audience members and discuss how horrible it all was, how many tears they shed, and eventually breathe a collective sigh of relief that all that was in the past, and thank God that we’ve come so far?
An examination of how Butler challenges sexual norms, from the incest taboo in the Patternist series, to interspecies sex in the Lilith’s Brood trilogy, to pedophilia and rape in Fledgling, and arguably all three of these in her short story Bloodchild. These stories show us how norms, particularly sexual ones, are flexible between worlds, cultures, and especially individuals.
As technology improves, and as the content of games expands in terms of breadth and depth, opportunities only increase for representing diversity. In the future, it will not be enough for a character to have darker skin, thicker lips, or a different eye shape. We will have to see different cultures and experiences represented as well.
Those of us who are not white, but hope to identify with the characters we play in games the same as anyone, find the industry to be deficient. At best we have had to settle for ethnically ambiguous characters, often in non-Earth settings, which while fulfilling an aesthetic need still leave players wanting for a more substantial connection. When characters of non-European ethnicities are depicted in video games, it is true that they are often stereotypes.