Rejecting the Mere Optics of Diversity: Why I Support AAPI Independent Media

A panel from Monstress, by Marjorie Liu, published by Image Comics.
A panel from Monstress, by Marjorie Liu, published by Image Comics.

2015 has been an interesting year for me.

I’ve always identified as a proud fangirl – a lover and connoisseur of all things in nerd and pop culture. I’ve routinely brought my fandom into my writing with pieces that explore the intersection of race and gender with film, television, and comic books. I’ve done my fair share of live-tweeting Walking Dead episodes, and I’ve geeked out with the best of them over comic book superheroes and their live-action incarnations.

But in the last year, I’ve grown disenchanted with mainstream media. I’ve grown to hate the hype. Above all, I’ve developed a frustration with mainstream studios, and our preoccupation as communities of colour with major studio blockbuster films as a backdrop for enacting social justice and racial equality.

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Sikhtoons Responds to Recent Hate Crimes Targeting Indian and Sikh Americans

Copyright: V. Singh / Sikhtoons
Copyright: V. Singh / Sikhtoons

Vishavjit Singh, creator of Sikhtoons, has created a cartoon expression of our collective outrage with regard to the recent apparently hate-motivated assaults of Sikh and Indian American men. The cartoon above references the September 8th, 2015 attack on 53-year-old Inderjit Singh Mukker by a teenager who allegedly called Mukker “terrorist” and “bin Laden” before repeatedly punching the older man in the face; Mukker was hospitalized with a fractured cheek, and multiple lacerations and contusions. Police originally investigated the assault as a hate crime. On Friday, the DuPage County state’s attorney announced that the incident was mere road rage, and that they were declining to prosecute the teenaged suspect for a hate crime.

This morning, the state’s attorney reversed that decision and added one count of committing a hate crime, citing “new evidence” in the change of heart.

Singh also produced a second cartoon this week, referencing the recent mistrial declared in the federal civil rights case against Alabama police officer Eric Parker.

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DC Comics Does Diversity: Gene Luen Yang to take the helm of DC’s Superman (and other awesomeness)!

Gene Luen Yang will be writing DC's Superman. Where do I sign up?
Gene Luen Yang will be writing DC’s Superman. Where do I sign up?

Last year, Marvel announced efforts to broaden the diversity of their superhero lineup; only to run their main Marvel universe through the shredder this year and possibly erase all those gains. Meanwhile, both DC and Marvel have been criticized that even when they elevate the profiles of non-White and non-male superheros, previous efforts have stumbled due at least in part to failures to implement behind-the-scenes diversity initiatives; thus, earlier announcements have come across as transient pandering that lacks connection to the actual experiences of women and minorities while failing to produce opportunities for minority creators.

Today, DC announced its own radical shift that would be taking hold of the DC superhero universe in the coming months. No, not another Crisis: DC announced a major roster change in the creative teams behind several ongoing titles as well as the launch of several new books, all with the general goal of “broadening” the focus of the DC universe. In layman’s terms? DC is diversifying their superheros, and it turns out that they’re going to do it the right way: behind-the-scenes as well as in front.

MarySue is all over the news, highlighting the launch of two new titles that feature strong female superhero protagonists –– Black Canary and Starfire. This will be Starfire’s first solo title, and notably, she’s received a costume redesign that (finally) covers her top half (although, of course, she’s still wearing booty shorts).  In addition to a limited run Harley Quinn/ Power Girl (which may feature the new Power Girl, Tanya Spears who is Black and also apparently awesome) miniseries, these newly launched female-led titles will join ongoing series featuring Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Batgirl and Wonder Woman, making DC’s newly announced efforts one of the most inclusive comic lineups with regard to women.

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The Marvel Universe is ending; so, what about all that much-hyped diversity?


(with intellectual contribution from Snoopy Jenkins)

How long does Cowl Rental last for non-White, non-male superheroes in the Marvel Universe? Apparently, less than a year.

Marvel’s earlier diversity efforts — the introductions of the Ultimate Universe’s Miles Morales (Spiderman) and the 616 Universe’s Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel) — have been well-received by fans. Last October, Marvel again made headlines — and even the Colbert Report — for its announcement of new diversity initiatives that would replace many of the Marvel Universe’s classic superheroes with non-White or non-male successors. Filling the void left behind when Steve Rogers was depowered, Sam Wilson would give up his mantle as the Falcon to be the “first” Black Captain America (although he wasn’t the first). Thor Odinson would lose the ability to wield Mjolnir, the source of his power, making way for a new, female Thor whose identity, after three issues, remains a mystery.

But, as I speculated in October of last year, diversity via Cowl Rental is always fraught, particularly for the minority character involved. Not only does it typically end poorly for the minority inheritor of a high-profile cowl, but, as artist Denys Cowan reiterated in an interview with the Washington Post yesterday (wherein the Post reported that he, Reggie Hudlin and Derek Dingle are interested in resurrecting Milestone Media), the entire tactic is also politically troublesome.

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The post-racial revolution should not be televised


Leave it to CNN to report on ideas that have been circulating in the blogosphere for years like it’s news, and to further treat those ideas with the kind of insipid, uncritical patina that suggests that the article is the end-result of maybe two hours — tops — of online reading. Leave it to CNN to give a complex and nuanced conversation a Monday morning rush job on an otherwise “slow” news day.

This morning, CNN published an article by John Blake, who normally writes for CNN’s Belief Blog; today Blake was writing about diversity in speculative fiction.

The basic premise of his op-ed? Televised speculative fiction is awesome right now because there are people of colour doing things next to White people.

If [Martin Luther] King clicked on TV today, he might shout that we’ve reached the Promised Land. A racial revolution is quietly taking place on the small screen, and zombies, witches and headless horsemen are leading the way. There’s been an explosion of multiracial casting on science-fiction, fantasy and horror shows, and the people powering this trend say it is here to stay.

Popular shows such as “The Walking Dead,” “Sleepy Hollow” and “Arrow” are giving us a sneak preview of a post-racial America that can still seem far away, fans and creators say. The most eye-popping elements are not the special effects and supernatural creatures but the multiracial casts and the casual acceptance of racial differences. These shows routinely feature actors of color in nonstereotypical roles, and interracial relationships are the norm.

Yes, according to Blake, we have arrived at King’s Promised Land: we have built a post-racial world, and it has zombies in it.

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