Four years ago I wrote a piece titled, “Captain America and the Defense of the American Dream.” I posted it on Inauguration Day and it considered how we, as a nation, should respond to Trump’s election, using Captain America as the frame for analysis. It examined Captain America as a character, his history, and what lessons he could offer when the world we thought we knew was turned so completely upside down. Now, four years later, Joe Biden is about to be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States alongside Kamala Harris – the first woman, first Woman of Color, first Indian America, and the first Asian American to hold the office of Vice President. I find myself looking to Captain America once again, to the brilliant narrative Ta-Nehisi Coates’ has been telling in Captain America since July 2018, as I try to process the last four years and consider my roll in the future.
I have read a lot of articles and social media posts by black authors and activists over the last week who have said the same thing. In this moment in time, the role of white allies is to listen to and learn from black voices, to stand with the movement and march in solidarity, and, if needed, put our white privilege to a just use by placing our white bodies between the police and black bodies during peaceful demonstrations. What was stressed again and again is that this is not the time for white voices to lead, to speak out, and/or to make it “about us” – something, sadly, all too rare in American history. What is most important is for white Americans to listen and learn, to hear what our black sisters and brothers are saying and to follow their lead in the struggle against the sin of systemic racism. Continue reading
Modern comics tend to focus on shorter, four-to-six issue story arcs. The ever-present wariness about the mercurial taste of readers, accessibility to potential newbies, as well as the fact each title will be collected and sold as trades two or three times a year shapes how stories are told. Yet Ta-Nehisi Coates has embraced a longer form of storytelling, with great success, since taking over Black Panther. His first “season” (as he describes it) was “A Nation Under Our Feet,” a yearlong story exploring the nature of people and politics, what it means to rule and who has the right to do so. His second season, “Avengers Of The New World,” is another thoughtful, multifaceted yearlong story. In it Coates eloquently and gracefully depicts the struggle of faith when God is silent. Continue reading
This is a piece I’ve wanted to write for a long time. I’ve tried before but could never find the right words. Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Stelfreeze and Laura Martin’s Black Panther was one of the titles I was most excited by as I returned to reading comics in 2015. While the Black Panther was only ever a guest star in the comics I read in my youth, Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of my favorite contemporary authors. I follow his work in The Atlantic and have read his memoir Between The World and Me several times. An author I so respect coming to a medium I’ve loved since before I could read was almost too good to be true! The results proved even better than I’d imagined. The pages of Coates, Stelfreeze, and Martin’s Black Panther held a story with an elegance unlike any I’d found in a comic book before. Continue reading