On the evening of August 25th, 2014, the Chicago Police murdered DeSean Pittman, a black youth living on the southside. DeSean’s mother, Natasha Haul, might not be able to bury her son because the cop that killed him came to his vigil as an on duty officer, and police deliberately provoked the mourners by breaking candles for DeSean’s memorial and tearing down posters commemorating his life. When a fight broke out between DeSean’s friends, family, and loved ones, and the police, five people were arrested, including his mother, and are still being held in Cook County Jail. Natasha is being held on felony charges of aggravated battery of a police officer, and mob action, on a $75,000 bond. Natasha needs to be out in time for her son’s funeral. We need to put up 10 % to get her out, meaning we have 48 hours to raise $7,500. Additionally, DeSean’s family urgently needs financial support to help with paying for DeSean’s funeral.In the wake of an upsurge of national resistance to racist police terror and international attention to the police killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and many others, Chicago must show support the families of those murdered by CPD right here at home. The same night the police murdered DeSean, they also killed Roshad Mcintosh, a 19-year-old black resident of Lawndale, on Chicago’s westside.Donate, support the Pittman, Haul and Mcintosh families, spread the word, and resist police violence in our communities!
Read This: Gene Luen Yang’s rousing comics speech at the 2014 National Book Festival gala
From the Washington Post, article here.
GENE LUEN YANG, Library of Congress, Jefferson Building:
Good evening. Thank you, Library of Congress and National Book Festival, for inviting me to share the stage with such esteemed authors, and to speak with all of you. I am deeply grateful for this honor.
I’m a comic-book guy, so tonight I’d like to talk about another comic book guy. Dwayne McDuffie was one of my favorite writers. When I was growing up, he was one of the few African-Americans working in American comics. Dwayne worked primarily within the superhero genre. He got his start at Marvel Comics but eventually worked for almost every comic book publisher out there. He even branched out into television and wrote for popular cartoon series like “Justice League” and “Ben 10.”
Dwayne McDuffie is no longer with us, unfortunately. He passed away in 2011, at the age of 49. But within comics, his influence is still deeply felt.
I was lucky enough to have met him once. About a year before his death, we were on a panel together at Comic-Con. I had the opportunity to shake his hand and tell him how much his work meant to me.
In a column Dwayne wrote in 1999, he talked about his love of the Black Panther, a Marvel Comics character. The Black Panther’s secret alias is T’Challa, the king of the fictional African nation of Wakanda. He has super senses, super strength, and super agility. He’s an Avenger, though he hasn’t yet made it into the movies.
The Black Panther wasn’t created by African American cartoonists. He was created in July of 1966 by two Jewish Americans, Stan Lee (who was born Stanley Lieber) and Jack Kirby (who was born Jacob Kurtzberg).
By modern standards, the Black Panther is not a flawless example of a black superhero. In their first draft of the character, Lee and Kirby called him “the Coal Tiger” and gave him a goofy yellow and black costume. Even in his final form, his superhero alias includes the word “Black.” This is true of many early African and African American superheroes, as if what makes them remarkable is neither their superpowers nor their heroism, but their ethnicity. Most problematic, though, was that Marvel made their most prominent black superhero the star of a series called Jungle Action.
All of these flaws were lost on Dwayne McDuffie when he first encountered the Black Panther in 1973, at the age of 11. What struck him was the character’s commanding sense of dignity. The Black Panther wasn’t anyone’s sidekick. He wasn’t an angry thug. He wasn’t a victim. He was his own hero, his own man. As Dwayne describes it, “In the space of 15 pages, black people moved from invisible to inevitable.”
Dwayne’s love of the Black Panther eventually blossomed into a love of comics in general. Dwayne was a smart guy with a lot of options in life. He’d earned a master’s degree in physics. But he chose to write comics as his career. I would argue that without the Black Panther, this flawed black character created by a writer and an artist who were not black, there would be no Dwayne McDuffie the comic book writer.
Dwayne wasn’t just a writer — he was also a businessman. In the early ’90s, he teamed with a group of writers and artists to found Milestone Media, the most prominent minority-owned comic book company that has ever existed. The Milestone universe have since been folded into DC Comics, so these days characters like Static Shock and Icon – characters Dwayne co-created – fight crime alongside Superman and Batman.
In the early ’90s, I was finishing up my adolescence. I visited my local comic-book store on a weekly basis, and one week I found a book on the stands called Xombi, published by Milestone Media. Xombi is a scientist who became a superhero after he was injected with nanotechnology. He allied himself with a secret order of superpowered nuns. One sister was known as Nun of the Above, another Nun the Less. Together, they protected the world from all kinds of supernatural threats.
Xombi was inventive and fun, but he stood out to me because he was an Asian American male carrying in his own monthly title. And even more notable – he didn’t know Kung Fu. Xombi wasn’t created by Asian Americans – his writer was white and his artist black – but he did make Asian Americans a little less invisible.
We in the book community are in the middle of a sustained conversation about diversity. We talk about our need for diverse books with diverse characters written by diverse writers. I wholeheartedly agree.
But I have noticed an undercurrent of fear in many of our discussions. We’re afraid of writing characters different from ourselves because we’re afraid of getting it wrong. We’re afraid of what the Internet might say.
This fear can be a good thing if it drives us to do our homework, to be meticulous in our cultural research. But this fear crosses the line when we become so intimidated that we quietly make choices against stepping out of our own identities.
After all, our job as writers is to step out of ourselves, and to encourage our readers to do the same.
I told you the story of Dwayne McDuffie to encourage all of us to be generous with ourselves and with one another. The Black Panther, despite his flaws, was able to inspire a young African American reader to become a writer.
We have to allow ourselves the freedom to make mistakes, including cultural mistakes, in our first drafts. I believe it’s okay to get cultural details wrong in your first draft. It’s okay if stereotypes emerge. It just means that your experience is limited, that you’re human.
Just make sure you iron them out before the final draft. Make sure you do your homework. Make sure your early readers include people who are a part of the culture you’re writing about. Make sure your editor has the insider knowledge to help you out. If they don’t, consider hiring a freelance editor who does.
Also, it’s okay if stereotypes emerge in the first drafts of your colleagues. Correct them – definitely correct them – but do so in a spirit of generosity. Remember how soul-wrenching the act of writing is, how much courage it took for that writer to put words down on a page.
And let’s say you do your best. You put in all the effort you can. But then when your book comes out, the Internet gets angry. You slowly realize that, for once, the Internet might be right. You made a cultural misstep. If this happens, take comfort in the fact that even flawed characters can inspire. Apologize if necessary, resolve do better, and move on.
Let your fear drive you to do your homework. But no matter what, don’t ever let your fear stop you.
I have long had a bit of a writer crush on Gene Yang, for he is awesome in so many ways.
Ditto. What a speech.
This is so important in the world of comics and writing! This is exactly how I feel. Call out the misrepresentations but encourage writers to learn from those mistakes.
Meryl Streep (via bungalowintheburrough)
Well I assumed she was kickass now I know for sure.
I haven’t heard back from the @azizisbored stand-up lottery yet. I hope I get tickets. My birthday is Thursday and it would be the best way to celebrate my new year and set off my new life as a 9-5 adult with a real job.
Best meal on earth. Savory over sweet everyday!
Awww, you tried so hard, but unfortunately I can’t hear you over the sound of my debt-free college degree and massive disposable income.
Young Dad Wins Back Custody of Child Adopted Without Consent
26-year-old Jeremiah Sampson waged a three-year court battle that forced him to drop out of college to pay for legal expenses in gaining custody of his child.
Sampson drove five hours to Rolla, Mo., once or twice a week for more than six months to challenge the adoption in court. The adoptive parents threw a towel over the baby’s head in court, refusing to let him look at his birth father.
Born and raised in Coweta, Oklahoma, Sampson had four older brothers, three sisters and a mother who worked two jobs to support them all. He didn’t meet his father until he was 13 and hasn’t seen him much since.
“I would never do that to my own flesh and blood,” Sampson said. “I would never walk away from my own child.”
Sampson is now suing the adoption agency for violating his parental rights by going ahead with the placement even after he objected.
Source: Tulsa World
THIS IS MONUMENTAL IF YOU KNOW ANYTHING OF THE ADOPTION INDUSTRY’S ALL OUT GLOBAL ASSAULT ON BLACK FAMILY PRESERVATION OMG LOOK AT THIS GLORIOUS DUO LOOK AT THIS GLORIOUS RULING I CANNOT CONTAIN MY EXCITEMENT /capslock!orphan X
I think it’s so funny that as soon as someone learns I’m vegan they automatically start defending themselves about eating meat. I don’t even need to say anything and they trip over themselves trying to justify why they eat meat
Every. Single. Time.
Opposite happened to me today. Everyone said. “Oh you have to help us out with that so we can get you candy you like, we don’t want to be offensive, we just have no clue what we could get you, you’ll have to teach us.”
Having a pet is so weird. Like neither of you speak each other’s language and yet you form some strong bond by rubbing against each other and sleeping together and you might accidentally kick them in the face or step on their tail once in a while but at the end of the day you two are best buddies from entirely different species.