We live in a time where every notion or concept has a hashtag. It can get to the point where it becomes overwhelming, or tedious even. That’s not to say that they don’t have meaning, but to address all of them would take a full 140 characters by itself! But I digress. Yesterday, my brother posted something on his FB that caught my eye – an African American male cosplaying as Batman. Now this, in and of itself, was not new to me. But to read his story I was reminded of how black kids could not be Batman, Superman, Captain America or Doctor Strange because we didn’t look like them. We could be Spider-Man, Iron Man or anyone black because either you couldn’t see who was under the mask or armor or they looked like us. Being kids we didn’t know better, but it did kinda suck, to be honest about it all.
But, in spite of weathering the short-sightedness of some geeks out there, he cosplays as Batman and does it well. The gentleman shared a story from last year’s DragonCon where a little POC, who was also dressed as Batman, saw him and started pointing to his hand to his mother and pointing at Batman. He approached the little boy and the boy asked if he was Batman and he said yes. The boy then asked “Batman, you’re brown just like me! Does that mean that I can be a real superhero someday, too? I don’t see a lot of brown superheroes…” I do encourage you to go to the post here and read it for yourself.
What I am saying is, it is good to see a black Batman or Asian Captain America, or a female Punisher! To see your race, gender or orientation represented where it usually isn’t reinforces the importance of diversity and that we all have a place in this world.
Ok… my story.
I have always loved spy stuff. Yeah, the Bond stuff is cool, but I’m talking about the real stuff. The stuff like you know that you’ve done a good job because it didn’t appear in the papers. I wanted that as a profession and even had a plan in place. I was a senior in high school and getting ready to graduate when I had a conversation with one of my bosses at this drugstore where I used to work after school. The pharmacist asked me what did I want to do as a career and I told him that I wanted to work in intelligence, maybe for the CIA. He asked me why would I want to do that when the only place that I could ever go undercover was a place like Africa? Now, this was the height of the cold war and Africa was not where the action was. It gutted me to hear that. I think a part of me died that day. So I figured that the black spies that I saw on TV were pretty much just that and decided to maybe find something else to do for a living. Now I was an idiot for even listening to him, and I am sure that he meant no harm, he just had a very small world view. But I am glad that we now live in a world where little brown boys can see a brown Batman and kids who are on the spectrum can see a Power Ranger who is on the spectrum too and all of the other representations that are out there! And, also, that my niece and nephew can go on to be whatever they want to be and they have representations to motivate them forward!