Thursday, February 21, 2008

"Celebrating" Black History Month

It may seem I've been a bit flippant in my recent posts. Some thoughts...

  • What exactly is "Black History?" It sounds like the comprehensive 10 CD retrospective of a death metal band. When I think of "Black History Month," I think of "Black Letter Day." This is what's know as "negative association."
  • If it's a history of black people, why is it that only African Americans are ever discussed?
  • Of all the black Americans throughout our nation's history, only one black American has rated a holiday of his own.
  • I've never gotten off work from Black History Month or Martin Luther King Jr. day. If a holiday came and nobody observed, would you still respect it?
  • I guess no other single person of color is as great as the asshole who thought he was in India when he "discovered" this country.
  • I think that I shall never see, a black American as honored as a tree. Happy Arbor Day!

So no, I find it hard to treat the lumping of an entire people into one big black month of vague and obligatory "honor" with much more than contempt. Over at my other blog, I recently rescanned and reposted a semi-synopsis of an issue of Superman written by Jeph Loen and drawn by a fill-in artist. It was probably an inventory piece to plug into the schedule whenever hot artist Ed McGuinness fell behind schedule. In it, a black man in a nondescript black jumpsuit with derivative super-powers called into question Superman's lack of attention to the ghetto. He was an angry black man, so they dubbed him "Muhammad X." This really drove home how little concern the creators had for the character, as opposed to the opportunity to have Superman perform a fan wank by addressing DC Comics long history of omission and indifference with regard to people of color. Part of the joke about yesterday's "Black Vulcan" post was that he himself was just a thinly veiled rip-off of DC only major black hero, "Black Lightning," who's creator had a participation deal, so they suits fucked him out of getting on "Auperfriends."

As for Muhammad X, in the end, Superman's token black therapist made him feel better about himself and his corporate masters. DC Comics, a company that until recent years treated most of their black characters as undesirable substitutes for white heroes or just plain undesirable. But that's all changed now, with John Stewart capitalizing on his national recognition with his own title, as has Vixen, and of course Steel. Oh wait-- no, they haven't.

In the Muhammad X issue, Natasha Irons reference a number of presumably non-white super-heroes she admires: "Rush and Silence. Stoneyard. Underground" She even equates Muhammad X's fame with Batman's. Never heard of him before or sense. Same goes for the rest. Until that type of thing changes, pathetic consolation prizes like "Black History Month" can damned well take the criticism.


DamonO said...

You know, I used to have that SUPERMAN issue with Muhammad X. Think I even bought it from you. I wanted to do a commission featuring the character and couldn't find that issue to save my life. One of these days, if you still have a copy and the time to do so, I'd love to have a scan of the character from inside the issue (not the cover, that's a lousy shot). Full body and some face shots. Please let me know if that's possible.

Diabolu Frank said...

I'll post them as today's blog...

DamonO said...

Thanks much, amigo. I appreciate it.


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