"And that, gentlemen, is how wars begin --
"-- little steps. Anticipatory responses. Get them before they can get us. Little breaks in communication. Don't you agree --
"-- King T'Challa -- ?"
Speaking of comics, have a look at The Last Time Priest Discussed Race In Comics, even if I kind'a hope the title is misleading. He's tired of the subject, though, and you can't blame him.
I stopped dealing much in interviews awhile back because every interviewer would, sooner or later, start talking to me about race in comics. I don't wanna talk about race in comics, unless it's about Superman racing The Flash. I want to be asked the same kinds of questions you ask Mark Waid. I am not so different from Mark Waid, except he has more money and dates prettier women. Few if any interviewers ever ask Mark Waid abut the state of race relations in comics, but its a theme I revisit over and over, to the point where I will, likely, now decline to discuss the issue. It's just kind of... done for me.
[. . .] Most people in comics are, largely, white intellectuals. Intellectuals tend to think they are beyond racism because, well, they are intellectuals. They've read lots of books and they have an elevated sense of the commonality of man. Intellectuals tend to look down their noses at guys like Archie Bunker and abhor racism. Intellectuals give to the NAACP and march on Washington and embrace the "oneness" of the human species. To many of these people, who was first didn't matter, doesn't matter, and won't matter. The fact they do not seem to know is actually some business to be celebrated: that we have moved beyond such distinctions.
But, wait, "we" haven't moved anywhere. White intellectuals are incredibly dangerous to the cause of social equality in that they deny the institutionalized nature of racism and sexism in this country.
I think the entire point of the term, "institutionalized racism," is the racism you don't see and don't intend and aren't even aware of. When I go up for projects or pitch deals, I have the added component, the extra invisible section of my proposal, that white writers don't: this business of race. If an editor pauses, for even one second, to worry about the consequences of NOT offering me or Dwayne McDuffie a book, even if the Ed thinks someone else is right for the job that is institutionalized racism.
I don't think comics are any more or less racist than any other corporate environment. It's just that, as a field, comics is terribly small compared to other publishing. So even five racists in comics is a huge demographic, statistically, as compared to, say, racist accountants or racist short order cooks.
Ask any white professional in comics who the racists in the business are, and you'll likely get a shrug or a denial that there are any. Ask almost any black pro in the business, and you'll get the same five names. We all know who these people are (some of whom have, bless God, moved on to other fields). Many of us have suffered directly or indirectly from these people. But mentioning the names will get you blacklisted and, likely, sued. These are people whose racist tendencies are largely ignored by white PTB's who probably don't even notice them, but these tendencies ring the alarm bells of any blacks within their orbit. It's the dirty secret of comics: the commonly accepted short list of racists every black pro knows and almost no white pros do.
I think Mark Waid was in Parade magazine a while back, so you're probably familiar with him. Another name dropped in there is Dwayne McDuffie, a/k/a "the guy whose site Aaron can't read in Mozilla or lynx." Mr. McDuffie recently wrote, in the Milestone Yahoo! group:
How about this, in 1988 I co-wrote Deathlok with my friend Greg Wright, who is white (and who I don't think it's unfair to say was a lesser writer than I was at the time). Based on the success of that book, Greg got 5 regular, monthly assignments. I got...none.
Priest can tell stories that would stun you but he's a real gentleman, so he doesn't.
But let's say you're right. Preist and I got our shots. So did Doeselle. That's three people in twenty years. We're the only three people good enough in the past 20 years? Please. I had three guys at Milestone alone who were ready. They didn't get a shot. Who did? Matt Wayne and John Rozum, two excellent writers who are also white.
Race remains an issue, especially in writing and editorial positions.
We won't even discuss black women writing comics, because. . . well, it would be a very short conversation, unless you want to talk theory.
It's not all gloom and doom. There's good news at Dwayne's blog:
Billy Dee Williams will provide a guest-voice of an African hero in [a Static Shock] episode set in Africa.
Everybody loves Billy Dee Williams.
Update: Actually, ending on an upbeat tone doesn't really fit the rest of the site. Here's a final word from Priest:
Nobody's evil, nobody's sitting around twirling their mustache and deliberately trying to keep the darkies out. But the most insidious thing about the institutionalized nature of race in this country is the fact that educated white liberals don't believe it exists. And, to my experience, that particular demographic, those people who think they're above racism or beyond racism, often end up being the most racist of all.
Considering some of the people claiming to be left/liberal these days, I find it hard to disagree.
Gunn makes with the intelligent, insightful thing again, and makes me wonder why I even bother posting at all.
Demonstrating the sort of class I'm just not capable of, Anja links back and refuses to rise to the flamebait here. Dude, public fights means more hits. More hits means free publicity. Think about it.
Besides, as Wolveroach says, conflict builds character.