Racism and Comics

I see it everywhere now, White Privilege. Comic books are extremely guilty of demonizing women and people of color. The Golden Age of Comics, overlapping the Second World War, had a bevy of white heroes. I cannot name any non white heroes off the top of my head, and the only female for those early years is of course the example of perfection and bondage, Wonder Woman.

I picked up a title without seeing the cover, I do this often, and I thought I had picked up another chapter of the Captain Marvel series with DC comics. Instead, I had picked up the Blue Marvel with Marvel comics. This short series deals with Jim Crow laws, racism, and the fears of white people. It does not justify for them, and although there are serious flaws, denials of privilege are actually addressed.

The Legend of the Blue Marvel introduces a super hero who uses Anti-Matter as the base of his power source, he is shadowed with a white man who was his friend, and becomes insane after gaining the same power, he wants equality so badly and cannot handle or cope with the challenges he sees his friend face. He decides genocide is the answer.

Genocide and Eugenics are a common theme in Marvel comics, the Xmen race allegory is even used just as that, with a pointed tip stabbing into the reader’s mind. The art is also beautiful. The Demonization of characters is given with an almost heavy hand to the white people, yet only as much as was with in the realm of reality. The Government commits shadowy acts, crimes against the Blue Marvel, out of fear of his skin color.

The comic spans time from the Sixties up until our current time, it references cultural change, and leaves a gaping awareness too in the change that is still needed. I was surprised with this title, and finished the five chapter series rapidly. The ending too leaves room for the Blue Marvel to either obtain his own Book or to return.

Rarely are guest characters in comics so well rounded, so human, and yet so superbly granted power. The most powerful man in the Marvel Verse is a man who was not born white. I see this as a huge change. Comic books are almost 100 years old, and although they have been wonderful additions to my life courtesy of my Sensei, there has been a lack in them.

I noticed it as a child, and even asked my Sensei why the men who looked kind of like him were always scary in the stories. He explained to me the concept of hate in a new way. “Sometimes, Little Lotus, people are afraid of difference. Difference is not bad, and hating it is. You must fight against being taught that I am bad because my eyes do not appear the same as yours. The world is a very bad place, but it is harder for those not born with white skin.”

Years later, I still grapple with the concepts that he taught me. I found out his name today. My mother was hospitalized for Pnumonia, and she will be fine, but going to visit her we began to talk. None of the topics were light, however, I learned that my Sensei’s name was Ben Chang. A part of me mourns that his name is Americanized, yet, I also understand the quest for acceptance in a country that is boiling with racism.

Comic books, just as the real world, have a long way to go. Change always needed, yet, now they are trying. The writers of The Blue Marvel Miniseries, Kevin Grevioux, has written many things I have read. I enjoyed Underworld, which too inspected race relations. He is an actor, and has even worked as a stunt man. I would expect that his personal relationship with prejudice, something he was born into by not being given white privilege, has inspired some of his amazing writing.

I am not certain how old the comic is, my copy has no dates on it, but it is also altered to help me surmount my visual disability. I will write more about that soon. Find a copy. I hope that the people at Marvel Comics put this out as a Trade Paperback soon. This creation is one of the best that has come under their umbrella since the inception of the company. Who knows, maybe they will  steal some of my loyalty from DC if they keep learning, educating, and of course the undeniable quality.

Just Die Already

Tonight while shopping for clothing at the Thrift Store I had two experiences, one uplifting the other utterly depressing. Lets start with the depressing one, that way we can end our time together on a happy note. I was told to just die.

I was struggling to check the size of this really sexy green dress, alas it was too small or I would own said sexy green dress. I asked for help from the employee nearest me and while she was great, the hispanic man sitting on a couch chewing his cud looked up and said, “You can’t do it yourself? Just give up and die.” He said this without blinking and just resumed staring off into space. The poor employee fled, she wasn’t sure how to handle this and likely could tell I was about to go KABOOM. Few things make me want to yell, but being devalued as a person who should just die? I had to ask why.

“Why would you say that?”
“Life ain’t worth living if you can’t walk. You have to be sad, so just give in and die.”
I ranted, in the store, and half expected my significant other to come and ask why I was so pissed. I did not yell, or he would have. I haven’t told him yet either. I want to make sure the man is gone so he doesn’t get beaten down by my man.

How do you respond when someone devalues you to the point of declaring that you should be dead? I get angry. I told him this. My legs may fail, but, I have the energy to shop, sing, and actually contribute to society because of my wheelchair. I am happy, I have great sex, and every reason to live that he does, maybe more. I managed to not cuss, trying to remind myself I have to set an example.

I also asked this man if he had forgotten about Hitler or just wanted to sound like his best friend. I am not stupid, I am not weak. I am full of fire and the spice of life. I am a person. I have every right to live, just as the young man who followed me around that store with Downs Syndrome does. I asked the man too, why he was sitting on the couch wasting aisle space, since I might need to roll past him eventually. “My feet are tired.” That was when I smiled coldly, and snapped out, “Mine aren’t. I think I am going to go and look at shoes, since mine won’t get worn out. Sorry your feet are tired and you want to die, but I can go eight miles per hour on this thing, I can go back to the future.” I went then and found my caregiver.

Could I have handled that better? Probably. I have issues with being told to just die. My father spent my entire childhood making sure I thought death was the easy way out. I am also feeling a bit depressed due to the acceptance stages of new disability and a side effect of wanting to confront my mother, but not being able to do so. I am aware eventually she will read my blog, but I plan to talk to her before I give her the URL.

Some of you may comment that the disabled having nothing to do with Hitler. Sorry, but it wasn’t just the Jews who were killed. Disabled people, persons who were not just white but of mixed race. Disabled people, persons with even manic depression, and sometimes someone who pissed the Reich off were all labelled. One of the many labels I would’ve worn in the concentration camp was Blod or German for stupid. A black square with white letters. I never will forget, neither should you. Yes, genocide is horrible, but, trying to eradicate disability or assuming that all disabled people are second class citizens? This is just as horrid. I am afraid of the future, I am afraid that assisted suicide will become legal, and that more pressure will be put on the disabled.

This happened after my uplifting moment, but I am excited about that. I was in another store, hanging on tightly to this high fashion top that was going to run me four dollars. It’s in style right now, my size, four dollars, and not puce! I had to have it. My rental scooter started bucking like a Bronco. I lost total control over it and almost ran through a window. A man in a wheelchair blocked my exit point with his body, thankfully neither of us was hurt. I looked up and I recognized him from the Veteran’s Shelter I used to volunteer at. This shelter is just for the disabled veteran. He has grown in health and was looking so happy. He did not recognize me. I thanked him for his service to our country and for saving me.

He expressed gratitude at my understanding the sacrifice. He became a para when he took a bullet in his spine for this country. He expressed his frustration at seeing any other person, especially a young person in a chair. We talked, and I told him I sacrificed my spine for children. We communed in the honor of life itself. He told me it was good to see someone who wasn’t down about their chair. He’s in a nursing home because he cannot care for himself and although home health care would likely be enough, Medicare denied him this. We exchanged information, and I hope to help him go home again. He fought so hard before for his home. I think he recognized my name, but, that does not matter. What matters is that he exuded strength, saftey, and honor.

He honored me by risking pain to protect me. I am grateful for that, how can I begrudge someone a sacrifice? I focused on this man when I wanted to lose my temper with the second fellow. I know better than to yell, but, it would have felt good. There are so many times when I am told I am a second class citizen. I am first class. My significant other tells me he loves me because I am a Lady, not just a woman, but a Lady of the highest degree. He reminds me why I must maintain my dignity, and he does not see it as shameful for me to cry.

I am going to live a long time. I must, because I have so much to offer this world. Bicycles are much like wheelchairs too. They have two wheels, they ambulate for you, leading you towards a destination. The only difference is wheelchairs come inside and are differently shaped. You say our tires are dirty, I say so are your shoes. You say we make the aisles wide, an inconvenience for you who wants to over stuff your shop. I say, aesthetics. You say I am a burden to society because I am currently not working. I say society and it’s bigotry is a burden to me. I should not be assaulted when I go out because of my wheelchair.

Today is also the first time in a long time I looked at clothing that will show off my magnificent bosom. I have more than ample cleavage, and, I am done hiding every bit of it just to comfort people who expect every woman to be shaped like a hanger.

I am done with self slut shaming, and I am done with conforming to stereotypical fatty clothing. I am fat, but, I am also gorgeous. How can a person who is happy be anything else?

Do you deserve to live? I agree, you definitely do. Lets live on together in our high fashion and accessible world.

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