It’s Time to Break the Racial Traditions of the Nerd World

Here’s the problem with comic books, sci-fi and fantasy; for worlds that are make believe, they are remarkably traditional.

This is especially true when it comes to their depictions of race.

For years people of color were relegated to stereotypes and punchlines.

Now with the boom of comic book based entertainment, people of color are finally being put front and center in their favorite franchises.

However, whenever change is involved in comics, the so-called keepers of tradition go nuts and start attacking people online.

Case in point, when the first photos of Zazie Beetz as Domino in Deadpool 2 were released, the majority of the world saw her as the badass woman she is. The traditionalists cried foul with the classic “but she’s white in the comics.”

deadpool-2-domino-zazie-beetz
Zazie Beetz will portray Domino opposite Ryan Reynolds and Josh Brolin in Deadpool 2. Source: The Mary Sue

Point of fact, Domino has a mutation that makes her skin a pale white color with one black eye. However, the real question is, in a made up world where the hero is immortal and can regrow body parts, does it really matter if one of the supporting characters is now black?

Having a black actress play the part with a white eye keeps the character’s mutation essentially the same while offering young black girls a chance to see themselves represented.

This doesn’t just apply to female characters.

The keepers of comic book history also lost their minds when Idris Elba was cast as Heimdall in Thor. They all cried that a character based on Norse mythology couldn’t possibly be black. Of course everyone changed their minds once they saw the film and remembered what a fantastic actor Elba is. If he ever does become the next James Bond, these people will riot in the streets.

When Mehcad Brooks was announced as Supergirl’s James Olson, once again the “he can’t be black” crowd reared their ugly heads. James is a photographer/graphic designer/publisher, clearly not jobs a black person can have.

The Adventures Of Supergirl
Tyler Hoechlin as Clark Kent/Superman and Mehcad Brooks as James Olson in The CW’s Supergirl. Source: Entertainment Weekly

Also, apparently Superman isn’t allowed to have a black best friend.

The thing that all these traditionalists forget is that original comics like Superman, Batman and Spider-Man were created at a time when black characters weren’t allowed to even be in the comics, let alone as a main character.

Guess what, it’s not the 30s anymore so the new MJ can and should be played by Zendaya.

This also applies to sci-fi since the addition of John Boyega to Star Wars and Sonequa Martin-Green to Star Trek caused fans to lose their minds and threaten to boycott.

star trek discovery_sonequa
Sonequa Martin-Green is the lead in the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery. Yes, having a black woman as the lead character is a first for the franchise.

Seriously, we all know you’re not going to boycott, so stop spreading hate and pretending like you will.

What this comes down to is comic books, sci-fi and fantasy realms have always been seen as a place for outsiders, misfits and rebels.

This is the place where you can be yourself among the people who understand you.

Well that understanding is a little hard to find if no one in your favorite books, shows or movies looks like you.

It’s beyond time to confront the long-standing not so secret racism of the nerd world and represent people of color on the page and screen.

Just because it’s tradition doesn’t mean it’s good.

 

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2 comments

  1. White people lose their minds every single time any PoC get anywhere near the orbit of any SciFi franchise, TV show, or book. I have noticed that they either soon get over it, or get drowned out by fans who love the characters, so I’ve reached the point where I just shrug off the hate as part of the business of racial progress.

    Like

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