the new Iron Man being a black teenage girl would make me happy, if i didn’t know that its main effect will be to shut out original black characters created by independent black creatives. it’s like a cultural gentrification of sorts (or maybe blackface is more appropriate). whenever they blackify originally white fiction characters. it keeps the creative kudos and the money firmly in the pockets of the establishment. we don’t notice coz we think it’s simply about representation of black and brown faces in visual media. but its not.
it’s bigger than just what black kids see on screen and in books. it’s also about who creates it. it’s also about what they are saying with it. it’s also about who’s financing it and earning from it.
making a white superhero black is, in fact, cultural and creative thievery. black artists started to turn these fictional characters black. because we reacted positively and wanted to put money in our black artists’ hands, big business jumped in.
there was never an active interest or intention to create a black barbie or spidey or iron man until black artists tested the market. black artists were doing cultural work and inadvertently (some consciosly and deliberately) proving there’s a financial demand. now big biz with all its resources jumps on the bandwagon and takes what the black artists worked so hard to build.
because we’re already inclined to spend on established mainstream, we just start celebrating. we think, “yay they finally see we’re people too”. they finally see that black superheroes are bankable. then we forget all about the black artists who don’t have the financial juice as yet to launch their own film franchises or comic series or black doll line. and if they have launched then and have been chugging along for years trying to survive from sale to sale, with a nonexistent marketing and distribution budget, waiting for that big break…
then the big break finally comes but it’s for Marvel and Martel and the same establishment!
then our artists are back to square one. either they continue being small fry or they and go work for the establishment. and we’re all back to square one where the little representation we have is dodgy AF and not controlled by us!
for reals, what are we celebrating?