There has been a lot of talk of acceptance over the past few years. There are all kinds of buzzwords about it in an attempt to classify (and thus, segregate) people, but it really all comes down to acceptance.
This seems to be concentrated in comics.
Growing up, I wasn’t overly concerned about what color or sexual orientation my heroes were. I just wanted a good tale. I was a kid, and it didn’t really dawn on me that the only black heroes of any real note were Power Man and the Black Panther. Black characters with black features. There are loads of other characters who are blue, green, purple, what have you, but who were basically white and just colored differently. Color didn’t really matter to me.
As I grew and race became a factor (I went to a private high school for a couple of years, and I asked out this Italian girl, who said I was cute and she’d date me, but her father would flip if she brought me home…my first conscious introduction to racism), I began to understand that my heroes were created by white people. Not just created by, but continually written by them, as well.
When you pull back the curtain of creation, you see that there is a dearth of diversity of creators, not just of character types. It’s easy to make a character black or gay or transgendered or whatever. This is not to say that the character will be good or viable or anything of the sort. I’m just saying it’s easy to fill in a checkbox when creating a new character.
Know what you don’t see? Transgendered creators. (If you know of one, please let me know. I’d like to try their book.) You don’t see a lot of black creators, let alone black female creators. Women creators are coming along, as are creators of different races…but when it comes to positions of power, it’s almost all white. The three notable exceptions are Axel Alonso and Joe Quesada at Marvel, and Jim Lee at DC.
Acceptance starts at home. If you can’t accept someone of a different race in your heart, how are you going to accept them as a pivotal character you read about? Milestone, the great experiment, didn’t fail because the characters or creators were black/non-white. It failed because readers weren’t accepting. The books were of quality, the stories were good, and there was a different world view for the characters. One that was more honest because the creators lived through what they put the characters through.
We’re slowly being more accepting of people here in America. While we’re founded on racism and bigotry (and hatred in some cases), we’re slowly coming around to see the error of our ways and are becoming more accepting. That’s also being shown in the comics.
We currently have a black Captain America. Who saw that happening 20 years ago?