African Future, American Legacies – Reflection

The lecture by Dr. Shakes entitled African Future, American Legacies was very enlightening. She started the lecture by discussing what is missing about blackness in popular culture. She discussed how it originated with the Transatlantic Slave Trade and  how these racist ideas are continued throughout history by the mainstream media. Black Panther and Luke Cage are not important because they are the first black superhero, but they are the first black casts. When looking at Black Panther, she explains that there is an ideal African society that has been untouched, a space for African Americans and the African diaspora can call “home.” This society takes a diplomatic approach to international aid, but falls short in expressing black unity in their effort. A contrasting character arises as a villain. This character’s problem is that he wants total power and demonstrates this image that he became americanized; he has a colonialist desire for domination. A similar character was put in Luke Cage. However, Luke Cage did not address many of the issues African Americans face within the United States, such as gentrification. She also brought up the fact that many of the characters in Luke Cage fill specific stereotypes. Dr. Shakes concludes by bring up there simply needs to be more discussion of white interaction within the African and African American communities.

I knew and recognized there was bias in the media, especially in regards to the idea of Blackness. However, looking at specific examples that target African Americans and seeing the importance of these examples allowed me to gain a better understanding of the effect white supremacy, as well as how far we still have to go in order to fully recognize the African American struggle within our society. As I have thought about the lecture, I have come across a question. Is discussion the only way in which we can change? And how else can we change the images that mainstream media presents? What is the new social media?