Adulthood and power

Black Panther #3

I have little to no basis for reviewing this particular comic. I’m 41. I’m white. I’m not really a comic book reader. So why, then, do it?

Because this series about Black Panther, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, has things to say. It has things to say about power, about what happens when those in power don’t pay enough attention to those they have power over, about how complicated it is to be an adult. Most of the time, from what I can tell, the Black Panther is an adult. Tony Stark? Nope. Steve Rogers? In a particular way, maybe. Captain America is uncomplicated, even if he’s put into complicated situations. Thor? No. Just… no.

These are interesting themes to me. I like exploring them. For that purpose, the main character happens to be black. That said, I know there is more to this story and character to black people and black culture – that is what I’m not in any way comfortable talking about. There’s a history I don’t know enough about (eg Black Panther is named after the organization) and it’s just not appropriate.

That said, it turns out that I’m terrible at reading serialized stories. I can’t remember what’s happened from one issue to the next; I’m considering just buying the full set in book form once the run is finished.

Joining the bandwagon?

Between the World and Me

What’s it about?
Between the World and Me is about Ta-Nehisi Coates experience as a black man in America. It’s about stereotypes and early death and constant suspicion and intellect and how to raise a black son in that kind of environment.

Why should you read it?
Because you’re a person? Seriously, there is so much in here, and it’s such a short little book. It won the National Book Award. He got a MacArthur genius grant. He managed to get people to talk reasonably about reparations for slavery.

Coates is so clear about what it is like to always have to fight off suspicion, to have so many negative assumptions made about you because of the color of your skin. His description of Howard University being a rich place full of black people of all kinds – not stereotypes but people. And a place where he didn’t feel “other”. I have a better understanding of racism now.

Between the World and Me will be assigned to your children, either to teach them about race and racism or to talk about American culture in the early 21st century. It’s worth your time now.