David Brothers on Social Justice and Media Criticism

Race and ethnicity factors into everything in our culture, including comic books. I wanted to explore that connection from every angle I could find. I wanted to provide a perspective that is frankly still lacking in comics media, and I found that perspective in any form was not just generally unwelcome, but often met with shrouded, passive-aggressive hostility. People have asked friends if being around me is like being in a black power rally and worse. Once, a cartoonist and myself were smeared in an interview by a prominent critic who suggested that we were intellectually dishonest angry black men because we got into it with him once.

It happens. I live in America. I know how it goes. America in general is unready to grapple with its race problem, and the reason, to be perfectly frank, is that white people are uncomfortable with discussing it in real terms. That leads to increasingly outlandish denials and dismissals.

A good friend of mine once said that using the phrase “white supremacy” in an essay, no matter how apropos, was like starting a fire. People stop listening immediately because their hackles get raised. They get defensive. Alarms go off. He was right, and I told him so, but I was cocky enough to bet that I could pull it off. I was mostly wrong, as I soon found out, because we treat words like “racist” and “white supremacy” with much, much more weight than they truly deserve.

To put it plainly: white people behave like “racist” is as bad a slur as “nigger.”

– “Listen 1st (my second reply)

David Brothers is a powerful voice in comics criticism, and his work at 4thLetter was some of the first stuff that I read online that made me think that I could write valuable criticism for a broad audience on a blog. He really opened up a world for me, and I’m incredibly grateful for that.

In any case, this is a powerful piece that really resonates through a lot of “nerd culture” and I think its a required reading piece of 2015.

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