I have this thing where I have to see why I do things. Why did I have that reaction, what does that mean about me, and so on. I got completely pissed off at blogging about race last week and decided to quit doing it. Of course, this week, a couple interesting books from a race perspective were released, but whatever.
I started thinking about why I had such an adverse reaction, what brought it on, and why I got so sick of it all of a sudden. I’m crazy busy at work and not sleeping at home, so I’m sure that that doesn’t help. I was thinking about it while I was walking to get lunch and actually had Lupe Fiasco’s “Gold Watch” off Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool [amazon link] snap it into focus for me. It’s the title of this post, and there really isn’t that much context to go with it. It’s just a hot line.
I think the straw that broke the camel’s back (“Why did one straw break the camel’s back? Here’s the secret: the million other straws underneath it”) was this post by Angry Black Woman. It’s about a top 25 list of black superheroes that I saw and ignored back in June. It’s a crap list that, to be honest, is only worth talking about as something terrible.
Exactly ten of the characters deserve to be on the list, thogh in different positions, and doggone Meteor Man is on the list ahead of Black Panther. It’s a joke. It’s a sub-Maxim Top XX list, which is there pretty much for hits. The list sucks. The choices suck. The justifications for the choices suck.
But, on the day I read ABW’s post, and a few days later, I saw it linked around in a few other places, though only Girl-Wonder‘s coming to mind now. I was kind of stunned. This is what people want to talk about? Somebody’s afterthought of a crap list of crap characters? Granted, everyone acknowledges the crappiness of the list and it’s in an attempt to make a better one, but this is what it took to get people talking?
Not 30 straight days of posts about comics and black history, one of the most fascinating comics produced in the past few years winning a deal, a look at real life black heroes, the king representing for black/white relations, or anything else I’ve written? My post on afro-futurism and comics got some buzz because a good friend of mine gave it some love on his big-name big-shot Gawker site (thanks Graeme!).
I realized, probably the same day I read ABW’s post, that it got way fewer comments than a recent post wherein I modestly proposed that maybe crappy bloggers should get punched in the face for being bad people. I started ticking things off in my head. “Vixen getting lightened up? Black Goliath getting killed? Falcon being set on fire? Tamora Pierce turning the White Tiger into a piece of crap character in a bad story?” The posts I made during BHM that were about busting shots at characters or bloggers? Those got attention.
Negativity gets attention. If it’s about somebody screwing up, people are gonna want to talk about it. I’ve been guilty of it myself, I won’t lie. The Greg Land posts on 4l! get plenty of attention to this day.
Nobody talkes about the dope stuff. Spider-Girl has been pretty great at presenting a balanced portrayal of race. Sentences was great and it seems like the blogosphere ignored it. No one cares about Nat Turner.
We get two of the best books to represent the (and present) a black experience in the comics medium and the response is… deafening silence.
Oh, but Vixen’s skin tone? That gets miles and miles of press. I think that her skin tone is an important thing to pay attention to, but the Hyperbole Brigade came out in force (“oh wow i thought she was a new white character who just dressed like an established character hurrrrrr” shut up no you didn’t).
Where’s the Hyperbole Brigade for the good books? Did nobody read Sentences? Was it a fluke that I enjoyed it as much as I did? Papa Midnite doesn’t exist? What about the fact that a reformed kid from Harlem is running one of Marvel’s oldest superteams and is pitched as having been right about the past two events? What about the fact that he’s taken Captain America’s place on that team? All I see is a lot of hating and very little appreciating.
I’m not saying that everything has to be all kumbaya and ALI BUMAYE or whatever. I don’t believe in that and I don’t think anyone else does, either. But it seems like the race in comics blogosphere, just like the regular comics blogosphere, and just like the rest of the internet, is so overwhelmingly concerned with putting somebody on blast that the good stuff has no room.
Three posts, only one of which is actually about Baker’s Toussaint, and which is on Baker’s own site. What part of the game is that? You ignore one of the greatest living cartoonists (not black, greatest living period) in favor of what? What are you talking about that Kyle Baker dropping another bomb on us is unimportant?
Why aren’t you talking about Brandon Thomas? Dude invents probably the best black female since, oh, Harriet Tubman and Miranda Mercury gets how much love? What about Afua Richardson, an artist with a dope style?
The negativity is, and was, killing me. It had me mad enough to want to quit talking race entirely. It was like touching a hot stove, or going on a date that ends in awkward confessions. “Welp, not doing that again!” It’s baffling to me. Blacks in comics (be it superhero, mainstream, or otherwise) are better now than they have ever been, and I feel like there is so much more to talk about than some garbage corporate character. This isn’t to say that corporate characters suck– but even they have gotten better in the years since I first started reading.
I had to readjust my POV after this past week. I can’t do the race blog hatefest on whatever mediocre comic screwed up on black people all the time. I hate this feeling that I have to talk about some character I don’t even like to either get hits or be relevant. Looking back, I’ve done it too often for my own tastes. I don’t want to talk about some garbage list. I’ve done that list not once, but twice. I haven’t talked about Miranda Mercury or Genius or Sentences or Nat Turner or Luke Cage or Panther or Papa Midnite or Garth Ennis and race or whatever whatever enough.
Sometimes I put too much thought into things.
Happier post next time.