You know, this is one of those things that I’ve seen over and over, but have trouble coming up with specific examples for.
I’m sure you know just what I mean, though, and it isn’t exclusive to black characters in comics. It’s that bit where, say, a white man rebukes a black person, or a woman, or an asian person, or someone who is white, but maybe not rich, and then the white guy gets a face full of “Well, I don’t know where YOU’RE from, but around here…” or “You don’t know how it is!” It’s that scene where a person thinks some variant on “As a ______, I have to work twice as hard!” or “I have to show these people that I’m just as good as they are, even though I’m _____!” I don’t know if you read it, but Huntress Year One was riddled with that kind of thing.
I totally understand the motivation behind the idea. I’ve been given advice that amounts to “People are going to hate you for who you are, so you better work twice as hard.” It’s a common train of thought that comes from being in a situation where you’re the underdog.
However, it got super old pretty quickly. I’ve been thinking of it as “The Big Getback.” “Finally!” whichever character is thinking to himself, “I get to show this white guy that he doesn’t know anything about being a black guy! I get to throw all the injustice of the past four hundred years right into the face of my oppressor!”
Uh, then what?
What happens after that? After the character gets his getback, it’s like a little book is closed. “This character has gotten revenge for racism, and now we can move on to stories about other things.” Captain Marvel has shown those racist sexist pigs that she can beat them up with lasers, Luke Cage has gotten all up in whitey’s face and yelled, and Superman has been told off for not looking out for the people in Suicide Slum and has looked a little chagrined. Ladies and gentlemen, we have spat in the face of racism and can now move on to other stories.
It’s a little silly, really. It’s cheap catharsis. What does it really bring to the story, except “Racism exists and sometimes people get angry about it?” That sort of thing is obvious. It just seems cornier and cornier every time it happens. It’s another symptom of “black characters are special.” “Let’s hit this checklist of Black Issues so our characters will feel authentic!” “Look man, black people got it hard! Let’s hit these marks!”
And no, I don’t know what’s up with Kitty Pryde, either. Easiest examples for me to find.