Last night on Facebook I wrote a really long post about something that had to do with depictions of minority characters in mainstream media. Specifically, comics. Actually, it ONLY had to do with comics. It’s something that I have never cared enough to write about because my own ethnicity is something that I rarely even think about. Probably because I was fortunate to grow up in Alhambra, a suburb of Los Angeles that, at the time, was a very ethnically diverse community.
I went to school with a lot of different types of kids and since then, my groups of friends have always consisted of people from different ethnic background, so the color of my skin wasn’t much of an issue. Having been a punk kid during my adolescence and early adulthood had a lot to do with that too. Sure, I’m proud to be an American of Mexican descent, but it’s not something that I focus on because I never grew up with it being a defining characteristic. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the least interesting thing about me.
Okay, here’s what I posted on Facebook, along with an image of All-New Ghost Rider’s cover:
Attention fellow brown people/latinos, chicanos or whatever you choose to call yourselves, and those of you of other ethnicities who give a shit: I know a lot of you are really excited about the Cesar Chavez movie opening tomorrow and plan to see it this weekend, so you can do your part to make the movie a success and bring more attention to an important figure in American history. I plan to do the same. You know what else you should do in addition to that? Go to a comic book shop, pick up a copy of All-New Ghost Rider #1, and give it to a little kid that’s into superheroes. Brown kid, yellow kid, black kid, white kid…any kid, just give them this comic. Please. Especially if you were into superheroes as a kid.
As a child I was obsessed with comic book characters (I still kind of am) and most of them were white guys. There were some exceptions — Luke Cage, Sunspot and Rictor from New Mutants/X-Force, John Stewart, and Black Panther were all good guys of color, but none of them were major superheroes. I didn’t mind and I wasn’t longing for a popular superhero that looked like me. It never dawned on me that people who looked like me were being under represented in comics. I couldn’t have cared less. All I wanted were fights, space missions, explosions, and crazy looking art. But what if I did grow up with major superheroes who looked more like me? That would have been awesome!
Now there’s a mainstream comic book superhero who’s different and has a background that is similar to a lot of you. The latest incarnation of Marvel’s Ghost Rider is a latino kid from East L.A. and that’s a pretty big deal. Now some kids might grow up with a popular character who is a lot like them. Or maybe not.
If this comic book isn’t a success and this latest version of Ghost Rider doesn’t become as popular as previous versions of the character, Marvel won’t have a reason to keep publishing it. But if it is popular then we’ll get to see a brown-skinned kid become a superhero in cartoons, live-action TV shows, and movies because that’s what happens to popular superheroes nowadays. This could lead to more major superheroes of color in different medias. So, please buy this comic book and give it to a brown kid, yellow kid, black kid, white kid…any kid. They’ll love it. What kid wouldn’t love a superhero who turns into a blazing skeleton that drives a rad car?
If you’re a person of color who grew up reading comic books then you owe it to younger self to do this. That’s why I’m doing it.
And while you’re at it, do the same with the new Ms. Marvel comic. It’s about a teenage muslim superhero. Also, there’s already a latino and black Spider-Man, but he’s not Spider-Man in the main Marvel universe. It’s still pretty cool, though..