The outage came just one day after Marvel’s Luke Cage series debuted its first season, 13 episodes of super-strength drama. The series is based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, a soulful and conflicted former convict with superhuman strength, unbreakable skin and an aversion to cursing.
A reviewer for the New York Times, however, was not so lucky. From his review:
Black Twitter stopped just short of showing up at his home and demanding his critic’s credentials. “If u let someone write a review about a black character, maybe edit out part where they say we should be white ppl’s sidekick,” tweeted filmmaker Xavier Burgin.
Luke Cage fans may not have broken the internet, but the series itself is a breakthrough. Where it may fail to follow the logic and complexities of the Marvel Universe (which I do not pretend to understand), it absolutely does take us into new territory on black masculinity and heroism, abandoning old tropes about black male strength that were both exploitative and diminishing.
The series is filled with sly references to black achievement which, granted, may grate on some. But their real value is not as a cobbled-together history lesson, but as context for a neighborhood, Harlem, that has a very specific value worth protecting. (Although a lively online discussion about Crispus Attucks, the first person killed in the Boston Massacre, actually happened.) And the real issues that urban black communities face – from gentrification, to overpolicing, and of course, crime – all come into play here, but expressed from the points of view of real black characters.
Thanks to the recent addition of OWN’s Queen Sugar, Ava DuVernay’s series about a black family from Louisiana, and Donald Glover’s extraordinary FX series Atlanta, mainstream audiences now have an embarrassment of “diverse” entertainment riches to from which to choose. Because they are populated by fully realized characters behaving authentically, we don’t have to know someone exactly like them to understand them. They also herald the return of the artist. Atlanta, which is a revelation on many levels, not only boasts an all-black writer’s room, unheard of in television, several of them have never written for television before. There’s no diversity algorithm or checklist in sight.
And yes, sometimes it’s personal. I’ll admit that it was a singular thrill to watch the hunky Mike Colter, who plays Cage, defend the Harlem village that helped raise me. But what Luke Cage, Queen Sugar and Atlanta all do so well is transform formerly invisible people into characters whose humanity becomes clear. And that makes them neighbors worth fighting for.
NOTE! We’re switching to a new email provider this week. To ensure delivery of this newsletter, please whitelist or add firstname.lastname@example.org to your address book.
|Report: Communities of color are routinely ignored by the EPA|
|A new report from the US Commission on Civil Rights, a watchdog group, charges that the EPA has a long history of ignoring complaints from communities of color and “outsourcing” most actions related to environmental justice allegations. There have been 300 complaints alleging discrimination since 1993, with no response from the EPA on any.|
|Donald Trump’s hotel defaced with Black Lives Matter graffiti|
|A Twitter user posted a video of someone appearing to spray paint “Black Lives Matter” on the façade of Trump’s International Hotel in Washington, D.C. The paint was covered with plywood and the police don’t have any suspects.|
|Japan lags most other countries in gender equality|
|The recent election of Renho Murata, the first woman to head Japan’s Democratic Party, is an encouraging sign, says university lecturer Emma Dalton. “The status of Japanese women in the realm of political and economic empowerment is abysmally low,” she says. Japanese politics is entirely dominated by middle-aged and elderly men, and women’s labor force participation rate is 64 percent.|
|Nicholas Kristof: We need to talk about race|
|Though Trump’s rise dominates our current conversations about race, he argues, the real issue is the bias that infuses everything from hiring, to education, to who gets pain meds in the ER. “We whites seem curiously unwilling to shoulder any responsibility for our own part in racial inequity. If we’re so concerned with ‘personal responsibility,’ shouldn’t we show some?”|
|New York Times|
|Executives of color want to leave Minneapolis|
|Sixty percent of the Minneapolis/St. Paul professionals of color who took part in recent focus groups said they plan to leave the state in the next three to five years. The reason? They feel socially ostracized and unwelcome – even if they were born and raised there. A regional philanthropy called The Bush Foundation (no relation to the former presidents) and local policymakers are working on solutions.|
|NBC cancels a show about a mail order bride after protest|
|It took just two days after the announcement of a development deal for a show about a Filipina “mail order bride” and her new family, for NBC to pull the plug. Online criticism was swift, and a Change.org petition got over 10,000 signatures. “In a society where Asians are constantly whitewashed or placed in stereotypical situations, NBC should really reconsider picking up a comedy where there is human trafficking of an Asian woman into an unwanted marriage,” said one blogger.|
The Woke Leader
|A new documentary shows the militarization of the police|
|I haven’t seen the film yet, but this review from the Washington Post is a must read. “Do Not Resist’ is described as a fairly straightforward ride-along documentary of how policing has changed in the service of a war (mostly on drugs) that doesn’t actually require a warrior force. The most chilling scene takes place in a conference room, as officers are trained to be less hesitant to use lethal force.|
|When employees become entrepreneurs|
|Big organizations must embrace entrepreneurial thinking if they are going to stay competitive in a fast-paced, global world, argues this latest piece from HBR. The pivot: shifting from scalable efficiency, the hallmark of the corporation, to scalable learning, which give employees the tools and permission to develop new opportunities close to where they operate within the org chart. What kind of new ideas will a diverse organization unleash?|
|How visa problems routinely prevent Africans from seeing the world|
|Ciku Kimeria, a writer and Kenyan citizen, documents the many indignities of being African and attempting to travel for work or pleasure – being denied visas even for layovers, or being held in makeshift dorms with other brown-skinned people who were suddenly denied entry to European or South American destinations. “Have I not yet proven I have no long-term intentions in your countries? And what if I did?” he asks.|