I wrote in one post during The Nerds of Color’s Walker Week that The Walking Dead is noteworthy for depicting one of the most racially diverse zombie survivor casts to-date: it features a band of survivors that has included (among others) a Mexican family, an Asian Indian doctor, two Deep South “rednecks” (a pejorative term that the Dixon brothers would probably enthusiastically reclaim), a samurai-sword-wielding Black woman, and one of the most progressive characterizations of an Asian man on television. This is a show where women kick ass just as readily as men, and where the divisions of race and class have largely disintegrated in the face of humanity’s near-annihilation.
It’s ironic, therefore, that The Walking Dead could have such a blatant “Black Man problem,” one so obvious it has spawned a million memes.
(This post contains spoilers of all events in The Walking Dead up to Season 4, Episode 3. Please read on with care.)
Welcome to our recap of The Walking Dead, season 4 episode 3, titled “Isolation”! Hat-tip to Twitter user @LaJoliePoeta for inspiring the title of this post. Also, please check out #NOCemdead, for archives of our Sunday evening live-tweeting of this episode by resident NOC, J.Lamb through our @TheNerdsofColor handle.
Only read on if you’ve already watched the episode, or if you don’t mind spoilers. Because, y’know, this is a recap.
This month marks the 10th anniversary of Robert Kirkman’s ongoing epic The Walking Dead. Image Comics is marking the special occasion by releasing an anniversary edition of issue #1, colored by Dave Stewart. If you haven’t been reading this book — particularly if you are a fan of the AMC TV adaptation — then you should be. The Walking Dead isn’t just a great comic book, it’s a revolutionary comic book; one that fundamentally altered the zombie landscape and helped usher in the zombie Golden Age of today.
In fact, I’d even venture so far as to say that Robert Kirkman is the zombie Frank Miller.
Wait, wait, wait: before your brain explodes from the nerd-rage, hear me out on this one.
This post contains a few spoilers of The Walking Dead comic. Please read on with care.
I don’t mean the zombie survivors. I mean the zombies.
Ironically, The Walking Dead is pretty racially diverse compared to other zombie movies in the genre. Remember Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Deadremake? There are, in that case, two sole surviving Black men, although one (Mekhi Phifer’s Andre) is singularly stupid. Meanwhile, there are no other notable characters of any other race or ethnicity among the survivors. And how about 28 Days Later? Sure, the main female protagonist is a Black woman (Selena, played by Naomie Harris), but why is she the main cast’s only character of colour despite the fact that London boasts a 20% Black and 20% Asian population. In fact, most zombie movies are typically populated by an almost all-White (with a token or two) surviving cast; against this backdrop, I’m relatively pleased by the racial diversity of The Walking Dead, One-Black-Man-At-a-Time rule notwithstanding (more on this later in the Walker Week).
But, here’s my gripe: where the heck are all the zombies of colour?