Apr 9, 2017

The 40 Years of Comics Project - Black Lives Matter

A few months ago, I watched this video. If you haven't watched it already, please do.


I have been wracking my brain over whether or not this is the right thing to do. There are so many tweets and Facebook posts and Tumblr posts going around the Internet the last while on how to show solidarity with #blacklivesmatter, how to be an ally or a comrade, how to speak and support and to fight back against the horror that faces people of colour on a daily basis. In the interest of full disclosure, I'm a middle-aged white man. Aside from being called gay in high school (and what those assholes would have done to me had they realized how close they came to the truth, I don't know), I've never been the target of prejudice. So I can't even remotely wrap my head around what it is to be a person judged on the basis of skin colour. Nor can I, thankfully, wrap my head around judging someone on that basis.

How often have we seen young black people gunned down over the last month, year, decade, century....on and on. We can blame the political system, built and protected by old white men, or the media that depicts young black men, more often than not, as gang-banging thugs. We can blame the systematic ghettoization of major North American cities throughout the history of the settler culture on the continent, but, ultimately, the blame falls on all of us who have seen this happening, and not only in the last year or so, but for as long as we can remember, and who have done nothing. I have for a long time tried desperately to cleave to the idea of being the change I wanted to see in the world, but in the wake of the last 6 months, in the wake of 2016, a number that sounds like the future, like the utopian dream of science fiction, it just doesn't feel like enough anymore.

So I'm hijacking the 40 Years of Comics Project for a little while. And I'm going to try my best to be a comrade in a way that I know how: I'm going to talk about comics.

Each and every person who has been gunned down, be it by racially-biased police officers, by gun-toting homophobic terrorists, by soldiers in wars they have no right to be fighting, every single one of those people has had the potential to contribute wonderfully and significantly to our culture. Many may not have. Many may simply have lived long, happy lives, enriching the lives of those around them, and leaving behind happy memories. But some might have placed something into the cultural repository that reflects who we are as a species, or more properly, who we have the potential to be. Neither contribution is more important than the other - it's simply that one is more visible.

So, in solidarity with the young black men and women, people like Christoph Carr in the above video who explains to us, eloquently, the fear of living in a world in which his life is in constant peril, I wish to present, for a little while, comics produced either wholly or partially by creators of African-American heritage. Huge names in the industry, wonderful, important comics. In the flagrantly racist society in which they created, any one of these people could have suffered the fate of Alton Sterling, of Philando Castile, of any of the more than 100 unarmed Black people killed by police in 2015, and the thousands and millions who have come before them, put to death by imperial and colonial powers that chose not to recognize them for who they are: human beings.

I don't know what else to do, or how else to help.

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