Sunday, October 10, 2010

Customer accuses Lucius Hammer Issue One of being Racist? Hunh?


After participating at the wonderful Cincinnati Comic Expo on September 19. I received a slightly disturbing facebook message from a dissatisfied customer. Now my mother had told me a long time ago, "No matter how charming you are, there's always going to be someone who doesn't like you. Or agree with you...and that's just the way of the world." And I accept that fact. The pop terminology in the past 10 to 15 years used to describe this type of social precept is "Haterism". You know...he or she is a "hater" because they don't subscribe to my particular point of view, don't hate the player hate the game, don't hate congratulate is my favorite. But in this particular circumstance, I don't think that this person, who we will refer to as "dissatisfied customer",is being "hateful". I believe they were truly shocked and disoriented by the message embedded in my comic book. It provoked them to think about things that they don't normally have to think about. The following transcript is a blow by blow duplicate of our cyber discussion regarding Lucius Hammer Issue One...

Dissatisfied Customer:
I was at the cincy expo and purchased the Lucius Hammer. First off I have to say that there are ALOT of Black Superheroes maybe you just never took the time to actually read or follow any through the years. Second,the black superheroes I've grown to love and follow have never been racist or a subject to division among other heroes because of race. I find this story to be insulting to say the least in the few of many people. We are slowly overcoming the division of race and all people are truely becoming equal. The government releasing a white superhero to stop a black group of superheroes forming? Seriously?! Do you know who the president is now? Luke Cage, Falcon,Black Panther, Storm,Spawn,Blade,John Stewart,War Machine, War Machine becoming Iron Man!! Those are characters just off the top of my head! Its sad to see someone so in the dark. If this is the fan base you want..so be it. However if you base you character toward fans that see a division of people then I'm afraid your character will never take off. Thanks.


Brian Williams...writer of Lucius Hammer:
First of all...thank you for purchasing my book. Despite how you may feel about the nature of my writing or the attitudes of my characters...you are missing the point. Yes...black superheroes exist but none of them are extremely relevant other than the fact that they are black and that particular company can say "Hey...we have a black character." With regard to the comments about the American Way and his agenda to foil the efforts of a black superhero...are you seriously suggesting these scenarios never happened in history?...particularly during the civil rights movement with people like Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, or the Black Panther? I am trying to chronicle an invisible period of time that does not exist in printed comics because the writers and artists that dominated the early eras of comics were white and not necessarily interested in promoting positive images of African Americans, this is unfortunate but a fact. Luke Cage was little more than a street wise tough who spoke in broken English and was an ex-con. I enjoyed his adventures but as a young black man growing up, I came to resent the fact that most of the black heroes I saw in comics were petty con men or less educated than the white characters (The Falcon was originally a street hustler named Snap Wilson) Black Panther is a king and Storm is now his queen but they are both Africans which if you really stop to think about it...there is a whole different dynamic experience going on when you compare Africans to African Americans and it's called slavery. Blade and Spawn are both monsters and John Stewart and War Machine are both flunkies for a main white hero. You probably don't see these things clearly because chances are you are Caucasian and these differences are not things that directly affect you. I am very sorry this has caused you to feel slighted. My wife is white and sometimes she has related to me that I am a bit heavy handed when it comes to writing about race relations, but if I am to truly write about a character that existed in a time of racial strife like Lucius Hammer did...then that strife and those tribulations have to be depicted. Of course you have never seen these things written about before in comics because most of the writers once again are white and the companies are owned by whites. But I am a black man choosing to write about the reality of a black man trying to be a superhero in a country that has gone through different periods of hostility towards blacks and other minority groups. I would like to personally refund you your money if that's okay with you...but I would at least like you to read issue two of Lucius Hammer before you pass complete judgment. I promise you that what I'm doing is top notch and sometimes it is hard to look back at history and accept what has truly transpired but...look at how Muhammad Ali was treated by the white press...look up COINTELPRO...look at some interviews with Malcolm X on Youtube. I am simply imagining what if there were African Paranormals existing during that time. It's no different than the XMEN...but in this case all the mutants are black. Give me your address and I will send you the five dollars back. I sincerely apologize if you were offended. But you are absolutely the first customer to say something.


Dissatisfied Customer:
I would like to thank you for responding and have come to the conclusion that we will agree to disagree. I could go back and forth saying how most heroes were "monsters" or freaks in some sort. You have your own opinion and I have mine. I purchased the comic on level of chance. I love to read new ideas and visions, some I have to discard such as this one. Since you are married to a white woman you should know that these days we are not divided and are humans, not races. We all bleed red and when the day comes that I see someone bleed another color I still will not judge them for their differences.
Thanks Again

Brian Williams, writer of Lucius Hammer:
I will not judge either but I won't lie or forget things that have happened. You can't just ignore history because it's painful. And you cant just decide to disagree with things that you don't like to admit or wish never happened. Another thing and I will let this go...just because the present man in the oval office is one of color doesn't mean we all can kick back and say "kumbayah". Unfortunately the world is divided and there are many other prejudices other than white/black...but through this adversity and struggle we can work together as human beings to build a better world for future generations. In future issues of my book this ethic will shine through. Thank you for at least voicing your concerns and I will remember them while writing future episodes of Lucius Hammer.

That was the extent of this conversation. I am not sure how old this person is or what their experience base is but they seem fairly naive. This person also seems like a great deal of normal comic book consumers out there that are under the false perception that there are numerous black characters that exist and they are treated with the same reverence and given the same opportunities to thrive as the Caucasian characters. The fact is, black comic book characters are few and far between. And the ones that do exist don't reflect the African American experience. This is a fact. I am grateful for the black heroes that have been created over the years...Blade is cool (he's a vampire but that's cool) I dig Black Panther (Although technically he's not African American), I also have a giant soft spot in my heart for Luke Cage (But anybody who knows his history understands that he is the Sambo of Black Superheroes). Something has to be done about this. I am going to do my best to change the identity of Black Superheroes...and I will not escape the criticism of folks like this dissatisfied customer who wants things to be kept on the low. This person didn't even realize the whole time they were talking about how things have changed and are getting better for race relations in the world...how they were still reluctant for comics to change. If only people would sometimes look at themselves in the mirror and be real. Lucius Hammer Issue One is a serious look at Black Superheroes and their American Genesis. If you understand our country's struggle with race, then you will understand there's no way I can tell a competent tale about these heroes of color without acknowledging their struggles.

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4 Comments:

Blogger InVision Comics said...

Very well stated. Very well said. Many people's points of views are built upon their own experiences, and if they conclude the entire pie by one piece of it (their piece, or rather, their experiences), they risk the great chance of being incorrect. The unsatisfied customer was obviously raised in an environment that was very controlled, and in that only allowed certain truths and depictions to be seen. Are race relations improving? I opt to say yes, but that is a clear indication that they were not as good as they are now. With that being said, we cannot deny the fact that racism was worse than it is now ... both openly and covertly. I say covertly because the unsatisfied customer's upbringing allowed him/her to see certain truths and not all truth ... and those are the types of people who need to be correctly nurtured because they have been kept from actual reality. We are here to nurture. To restore. We are preforming surgery with our stories, restoring sight so that we all can see as we were created to. This makes us doctors. And doctors willingly place themselves around the broken, noticing their symptoms in order to know what to administer. We can offer that healing 'thing' to the unsatisfied customer, but he/she had to choose to receive it. Let's hope he/she does receive healing.

October 10, 2010 at 2:57 PM  
Blogger mirgill1 said...

Hey there Brian!!! How have you been? Dude, let me tell you, not just because I met you, but I see exactly where you are going with your universe intertwining with reality. This is a great potential vision that has been intelligently put to in your book. With the relations between black heroes in the story and the US government MOST DEFINITELY ties into COINTELPRO. Yes, Marvel Comics did dance to the idea at the time with the inspiration of the events of Dr. King and Malcolm X and the Black Panther Movement, and THAT'S WHAT MADE THE X-MEN REVOLUTIONARY!!! But your vision ties in very well within that time. Remember someone did that for the Black Captain America, someone had balls to put that out there in relations to the Tuskegee Airmen situation. Trust me, you are REALLY on to something.

October 10, 2010 at 4:42 PM  
Blogger mirgill1 said...

As far as the dissatisfied customer is concerned, I look at it like this. "In this world, there are people who can understand a message or idea in 2 seconds, and there are those that can take 2 decades to get it." Trust me, what he wrote shows that, because obviously he ties your story to the current events when the story traces back to the 50's and 60's. Also, the list of black super heroes named he gave, that's great, but that's just scraps of heroes of color with stereotypes to add to that, that we as blacks have to be forced to like because "mainstream" put it out there. I found his/her comment rather comical, not just for a typical defense in naming black heroes to count with two hands, but to put in the president as a means to stop looking in that perspective simply shows a sense of being naive in thinking that racism issues that exists for so long can come to an abrupt end in this day and age. To look at an idea, he/she has to look in all spectrums of the idea, not just one side.

October 10, 2010 at 4:56 PM  
Blogger stacey said...

glad you went there and talked about Cointerpro....folks are uncomfortable w us have a voice against their very comfortable society AT OUR EXPENSE....haven't read issue 2 yet but, love the idea....it's American history, which is nasty and dirty. Keep bringing that commentary, trust me, one day, your works will be studied and appreciated at insightful looks into American society. As for losing an audience, we as Black creators don't chase the money, if so, We'd do stereotype, every book'd be hip hop, sports, entertainment, or gang violence. Every Black man'd be single and every Black woman'd be w a white man. Stand on your soapbox bro,..you audience is less by one but strengthened by many. BTW,..many white collectors love the Blackness we bring w our work,..they wanna shout in rebellion against the society we live in too.

October 18, 2010 at 9:11 AM  

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