By: Erian Mathis
First things first, this post might contain some spoilers for Season 2 of Stranger Things so if you haven’t watched it all the way through yet, THIS IS YOUR OFFICIAL WARNING. SPOILERS TO FOLLOW.
In an age where mainstream media seems to be at its most cognizant of positive representation for POC, it’s about time that Lucas Sinclair got a shout out. We saw in Season 1 of Stranger Things that Lucas was the pragmatic one of the group, being the only one to point out when Eleven was tampering with their compasses while searching for the gate to the Upside Down. He wasn’t afraid to call out his friend, Mike, when he believed he might be letting his feelings for Eleven interfere with the search for Will. And he definitely wasn’t afraid to face down a full grown Demogorgon with nothing more than a slingshot, and some rocks. Seriously, Lucas is the bomb.
Season 2 really only strengthened his character development when Maxine (a.k.a. “Mad Max”) moves to town, and he only lets her in on the secret inner workings of their group when it’s necessary for the group’s survival as a whole. Not only that, but much earlier in the season, when he, and Dustin first approach Max as Ghostbusters, he’s the only one of the two to understand how their approach might come off as patronizing, rather than friendly.
Lucas constantly proves himself to be brave, analytical, smart, and capable of making logical decisions as a goal-oriented leader when the going gets tough. Even when they dress as Ghostbusters, he refuses to dress up as Winston, refuting Mike’s reasoning; “Why? ‘Cause he’s black?” and even suggests that if Winston is so great, that Mike should dress as him instead. For anyone who’s a die-hard fan of Community, the scene felt reminiscent from a moment in Season 6, where Elroy Patashnik (played by Keith David) chastises the group for diminishing his role down to his race; “I have a brain the size of Jupiter, I’m nobody’s fourth Ghostbuster.”
When black kids get to see themselves in the media, in TV, movies, comic books, video-games, etc., it helps shape their development. When they get to see themselves reflected back in positive ways on screen, it’s a subtle way of telling them that they matter in a larger social context. Even when Max’s racist older brother attacks him head on, it doesn’t stop Lucas from seeing Max, or from being any less brave, or any less pragmatic. This isn’t to say that black kids or any other POC can’t or never identify with white characters (you’d be hard-pressed for questioning my love of Spider-Man), but when there are more white saviors, and no black heroes, the fantasy world, and the real world start to feel like they don’t want, or need you.
Lucas Sinclair is the representation that we need to see more of; the friend who’s determined, rational, and stalwart in the face of danger. When the real world goes upside down, people need a reminder of their potential, to fight off any adversities that come their way.