Two Black Former DC Editors Discuss The Obstacles and Discrimination They Faced In The Industry

Cicada 5

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There are differences in their stories — notably, the time periods. Williams exited his role as an assistant editor in 2000 after six years without a promotion, while Richards spent 22 years at the comics giant with just one promotion before he was fired in December 2019. But the similarities that cut across those two decades are striking and speak to how little has changed for Black editorial staffers at DC Comics and in the comics industry at large.
 
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Crystal Violet

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This does not surprise me the least. I worked as a police detective in France for years and witnessed blatant racism and misogyny. My colleagues would openly brag about how many Arabs they arrested and describe black people as "monkeys". There was video recording of a black man being raped with a baton by Paris police and when they conducted an investigation they ruled that it was an accident. My colleagues sent the video around on Whatsapp with laughing emojis. Any time a woman or minority would be promoted (very rare) everyone would complain that it was because the feminazis and PC culture. Racism is alive and well.
 

Bob_McMillan

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Well ain't that fucked. Kinda explains why most attempts at diversity in comic books are shit, because the people behind them are racist fucks and only want to cash in on that sweet progressive company image. Hope the other guy manages to get a new job.
 

Crystal Violet

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Well ain't that fucked. Kinda explains why most attempts at diversity in comic books are shit, because the people behind them are racist fucks and only want to cash in on that sweet progressive company image. Hope the other guy manages to get a new job.

But, but... Nick Fury is WHITE! You cannot just make a character whose incidental appearance as a white man is central to his character black! How would you feel if we made Black Panther white?! This is a perfectly reasonable comparison since his race and background as a leader of a fictional isolationist African state has no bearing at all on his character unlike Nick Fury!
 

Bob_McMillan

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But, but... Nick Fury is WHITE! You cannot just make a character whose incidental appearance as a white man is central to his character black! How would you feel if we made Black Panther white?! This is a perfectly reasonable comparison since his race and background as a leader of a fictional isolationist African state has no bearing at all on his character unlike Nick Fury!
I find black Nick Fury hilarious. He's Nick Fury's son with the same name, so he's Nick Jr, popular children's TV channel. He also has an eyepatch just like his daddy, on the exact same eye. AND he's the spitting image of Samuel L. Jackson, which will never not weird me out.
 
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happyninja42

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But, but... Nick Fury is WHITE! You cannot just make a character whose incidental appearance as a white man is central to his character black! How would you feel if we made Black Panther white?! This is a perfectly reasonable comparison since his race and background as a leader of a fictional isolationist African state has no bearing at all on his character unlike Nick Fury!
It does amuse me, how often the people who complain about these changes, declare it's not about race...and yet the point they are bitching about, is the race of the character.

I remember...I think it was a discussion on 1.0 of the escapist, about the trend back then for changing up the traditional lineup of classic heroes. FemThor, Korean Hulk, etc. And somebody commented about someone else being Spiderman, and that "Peter Parker" is spiderman, nobody else. And I remember commenting "ok fine, but there's nothing inherently white about Peter's character. I mean, his key traits are 1. Kid from Queens. 2. Awkward and nerdy. 3. Compelled by guilt to fight crime. That's it really. And pretty much every other aspect of him, is just Regular Human, and could be filled by anybody. Which means you could have a black Peter, and it still be fine."
 
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Thaluikhain

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It does amuse me, how often the people who complain about these changes, declare it's not about race...and yet the point they are bitching about, is the race of the character.

I remember...I think it was a discussion on 1.0 of the escapist, about the trend back then for changing up the traditional lineup of classic heroes. FemThor, Korean Hulk, etc. And somebody commented about someone else being Spiderman, and that "Peter Parker" is spiderman, nobody else. And I remember commenting "ok fine, but there's nothing inherently white about Peter's character. I mean, his key traits are 1. Kid from Queens. 2. Awkward and nerdy. 3. Compelled by guilt to fight crime. That's it really. And pretty much every other aspect of him, is just Regular Human, and could be filled by anybody. Which means you could have a black Peter, and it still be fine."
Oh, remember when they announced Zendaya Coleman as MJ, and people kept posting comparisons pics of the two?

When looking for differences between the two, I was less struck being Zendaya being (marginally) darker skinned than MJ, and more that MJ's bodyweight seemed to be about 10% breasts.
 

Hawki

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It does amuse me, how often the people who complain about these changes, declare it's not about race...and yet the point they are bitching about, is the race of the character.
Playing devil's advocate, you can easily turn that around and say "if it's not about race, why change it?"

Anyway, TBH, for me, it's usually a case by case basis, though I'm usually on the side of "OMG, who cares?" when it comes to it. It's gender-flipping that tends to irritate me more, though there are cases where it's a non-issue.

I remember...I think it was a discussion on 1.0 of the escapist, about the trend back then for changing up the traditional lineup of classic heroes. FemThor, Korean Hulk, etc. And somebody commented about someone else being Spiderman, and that "Peter Parker" is spiderman, nobody else. And I remember commenting "ok fine, but there's nothing inherently white about Peter's character. I mean, his key traits are 1. Kid from Queens. 2. Awkward and nerdy. 3. Compelled by guilt to fight crime. That's it really. And pretty much every other aspect of him, is just Regular Human, and could be filled by anybody. Which means you could have a black Peter, and it still be fine."
That's a reasonable point, but I have two words - Miles Morales.

If people want to play the diversity game (which is a game you can't really win, but whatever), it struck me that a better way to play it was to create new characters rather than change old characters and say "look, see how woke we are!" I mean, if we're playing the game, what's the better outcome - blackwashing Peter, or creating Miles? Speaking personally, the latter. Because while you're right in that Peter's ethnicity has never really been a factor, I prefer Miles in that he's his own character, who has in-universe rationale for existing, and is a fun, enjoyable character. Granted, my experience with him is limited to Into the Spider-Verse, but hey, you can't really go wrong with that movie.

Kamala Khan is a similar example. I don't know if the relationship between her and Captain Marvel can be said to be equivalent to Peter and Miles, but whatever, I've read some of her comics. She's fun. She's a character built from the ground up, and as far as I can tell, was received positively.

Oh, remember when they announced Zendaya Coleman as MJ, and people kept posting comparisons pics of the two?

When looking for differences between the two, I was less struck being Zendaya being (marginally) darker skinned than MJ, and more that MJ's bodyweight seemed to be about 10% breasts.
I know there were comparisons, but breast size? Really?

Anyway, TBH, MJ in the MCU is a good example of what I'm talking about. To me, she isn't Mary-Jones Watson, she's Michelle Jones. A separate character. Yes, it's a clear reference to MJ from the comics and whatnot, but even casting appearance aside, Michelle's personality is completely different. Which, to me, works. Michelle's a fun character in fun movies (well, one being a lot more fun than the other granted). So everybody wins.
 

happyninja42

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Oh, remember when they announced Zendaya Coleman as MJ, and people kept posting comparisons pics of the two?

When looking for differences between the two, I was less struck being Zendaya being (marginally) darker skinned than MJ, and more that MJ's bodyweight seemed to be about 10% breasts.
Yeah I vaguely recall that, didn't pay it much attention.

That's a reasonable point, but I have two words - Miles Morales.

If people want to play the diversity game (which is a game you can't really win, but whatever), it struck me that a better way to play it was to create new characters rather than change old characters and say "look, see how woke we are!" I mean, if we're playing the game, what's the better outcome - blackwashing Peter, or creating Miles? Speaking personally, the latter. Because while you're right in that Peter's ethnicity has never really been a factor, I prefer Miles in that he's his own character, who has in-universe rationale for existing, and is a fun, enjoyable character. Granted, my experience with him is limited to Into the Spider-Verse, but hey, you can't really go wrong with that movie.

Kamala Khan is a similar example. I don't know if the relationship between her and Captain Marvel can be said to be equivalent to Peter and Miles, but whatever, I've read some of her comics. She's fun. She's a character built from the ground up, and as far as I can tell, was received positively.
Except the issue with Miles, is that people were complaining about him being Spiderman back then too. "Peter Parker is Spiderman, and no other!" was something I saw posted a lot. In fact, the person on Escapist 1.0 that I commented about asking the question about Peter's race, is one of the people who said that. It's why I brought it up. Bottom line, some people are going to be pissy no matter how you slice it. If you make a new character, but give them the same mantle, it's "riding the coattails of better heroes". If you do something like just race swap, someone will ***** about forced diversity, and also try and claim their complaint isn't about race. I personally love Miles, and Spider-Gwen, and basically all the variants they've ever done, because I'm fairly tired of Peter after so many decades of the same stories.
 

Thaluikhain

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That's a reasonable point, but I have two words - Miles Morales.
Who?

I mean, I know who he is (because of the controversy when he appeared), but do people in general know or care, or just equate Spiderman with Peter Parker like in the eleventy billion movies about Peter Parker being Spiderman?
 

Hawki

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Who?

I mean, I know who he is (because of the controversy when he appeared), but do people in general know or care, or just equate Spiderman with Peter Parker like in the eleventy billion movies about Peter Parker being Spiderman?
I think Miles Morales is reasonably well known. I mean, if I say "Spider-Man," you're usually going to think of Peter Parker. If I say "Miles Morales," I'll probably get some blank stares, but I might also get some "oh hey, that guy from that animated movie," or "the guy who got his own Spider-Man game." Yes, one's more well known than the other, but Miles has at least made it into a broader pop culture as opposed to, I dunno, Cindy Moon.

I mean, going back a bit, you're right, there's no reason why Peter has to be any one thing. But Miles was more or less created to be a "black Spider-Man." Now, we can debate whether creating a character solely for representation is a good or bad thing, but, well, I'll put it this way. If Peter had been blackwashed, do you think that version of Peter would have made as much of an impact? I mean, that's not out of the question (see Jackson's version of Nick Fury), but on the other hand, something like Into the Spider-Verse would have to be very different (e.g. Miles couldn't replace his universe's Peter, which is part of his arc). I also know that it takes more effort to build a new character from the ground up, so at the very least, the writers deserve credit for that.
 

Trunkage

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This does not surprise me the least. I worked as a police detective in France for years and witnessed blatant racism and misogyny. My colleagues would openly brag about how many Arabs they arrested and describe black people as "monkeys". There was video recording of a black man being raped with a baton by Paris police and when they conducted an investigation they ruled that it was an accident. My colleagues sent the video around on Whatsapp with laughing emojis. Any time a woman or minority would be promoted (very rare) everyone would complain that it was because the feminazis and PC culture. Racism is alive and well.
Accidentally, knocked them to the ground. Accidentally pulled down his pants. Accidentally inserted the baton. Accidentally didn’t pull it out straight way. Accidentally recorded the incident. Accidentally sent it to friends

That’s a whole heaps of accidents happening at the same time localised in one area
 

Crystal Violet

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Accidentally, knocked them to the ground. Accidentally pulled down his pants. Accidentally inserted the baton. Accidentally didn’t pull it out straight way. Accidentally recorded the incident. Accidentally sent it to friends

That’s a whole heaps of accidents happening at the same time localised in one area
I really wish this was the only time something like this happened.
 

ObsidianJones

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That's a reasonable point, but I have two words - Miles Morales.

If people want to play the diversity game (which is a game you can't really win, but whatever), it struck me that a better way to play it was to create new characters rather than change old characters and say "look, see how woke we are!" I mean, if we're playing the game, what's the better outcome - blackwashing Peter, or creating Miles? Speaking personally, the latter. Because while you're right in that Peter's ethnicity has never really been a factor, I prefer Miles in that he's his own character, who has in-universe rationale for existing, and is a fun, enjoyable character. Granted, my experience with him is limited to Into the Spider-Verse, but hey, you can't really go wrong with that movie.

Kamala Khan is a similar example. I don't know if the relationship between her and Captain Marvel can be said to be equivalent to Peter and Miles, but whatever, I've read some of her comics. She's fun. She's a character built from the ground up, and as far as I can tell, was received positively.
Great Character. Tons of fun. Not original in anyway.

Oh, I meant the concept.

Because we have characters like Spider-ham, Ben Reilly, Doc Ock, Miguel O'Hara, MayDay Parker, Hell the Scorpion was Spider-man at one point.

The amount of different Spider-people in the world is staggering. The take on it is usually "They aren't the best, but they are comics. They are always going to try something new"

But let one iteration be non-white. And it's all anyone focuses on.

If it's not about race... I await everyone's equal take-down and time focused on all the other iterations of Spider Man who isn't the 616 Peter Parker. I see that you said that Spiderman's ethnicity has nothing to do with the character. And I agree with you on that. But you know there are a ton of people who just see Miles as PC woke where there is depth to the character we haven't seen in a while.
 
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