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Tuesday, March 29, 2022 

Art show in Riverside spotlights Black heroes, and teacher creates comic highlighting Black inventors

The Press-Enterprise talks about an art exhibition in Riverside, CA that's showcasing Black comics heroes, and the interviewees, creators themselves, had the following to say regarding Jack Kirby:
Stacey Robinson and John Jennings connected over a shared love of comic books and hip-hop when they chatted at a conference in Atlanta more than a decade ago.

Robinson, who is an assistant professor of graphic design and illustration at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Jennings, who is a professor of media and cultural studies at UC Riverside, talked about Jack Kirby, an influential comic book artist, writer and editor who created many iconic characters such as The Fantastic Four, Black Panther, Hulk and the X-Men — and how his contributions weren’t sufficiently credited in Marvel’s stream of cinematic blockbusters.

“They’re treating Jack Kirby like he’s Black,”
said Robinson. “They ought to call him Black Kirby.”

That exchange of ideas spawned the name for Jennings and Robinson to pair up as art collective Black Kirby, which draws inspiration from Kirby, viewing him through the lens of a Black politicized comic book artist.
Well in a manner of speaking, there are Jews who've been short-changed by the establishment along with African-Americans over past decades, so if Kirby never got clear credit in the movies based on the comics he co-created with Stan Lee, it's no surprise, though I should note there's several more late creators who never got clear credit in the movie adaptations, if at all. These could include Bill Finger (Batman, Golden Age Green Lantern), Gardner Fox (Golden Age Flash and Hawkman), Robert Kanigher (Black Canary and Silver Age Flash), John Broome (Silver Age Green Lantern). But why must these modern artists base their directions on political leanings? Surely that doesn't diminish whatever entertainment value they could build their productions on in the long run? They continue:
Black Kirby creates visual art that focuses on themes of Afrofuturism, social justice, representation and magical realism and is on display in two exhibitions at the Sweeney Art Gallery at UCR Arts in Riverside: “Black Kirby X: Ten Years of Remix and Revolution” and “Ebon: Fear of a Black Planet,” whose title pays tribute to Public Enemy’s album “Fear of a Black Planet.” Both shows run through June 19.

“We started to make these really explicit connections between Black Power, Black liberation and Afrofuturism,” Jennings said.
Oh good grief. If they're going to drag all that junk about social justice into the mess, that's where it all becomes so sad. Even the part about representation is laughable, after all the hard work Kirby and Stan Lee did to introduce various Black cast members in their times. And Black liberation? What if that translates as "liberation theology"? Even the talk of "power" sounds fishy, if it's anything similar to part about theologies, which are very leftist in structure. Anybody who's going to build upon that kind of destructive, divisive ideology isn't making a good contribution to the marketplace, and it's shameful if such people claim to be fans of King Kirby.
Robinson said a simplified definition of Afrofuturism is Black people in the future defining what that future is, allowing Black people to have an agency in shaping their futures, which historically hasn’t been the case in science fiction.

Jennings said science fiction in its early days didn’t show many people of color or women unless they were being saved.

“This science fiction is a political erasure of Black experiences,” Jennings said. “We are trying to reclaim that and think very positively of what’s coming next.”
Okay, do just that, but don't build on destructive narratives like political agendas. It should be noted "women's lib" in the 1960s wasn't very helpful either, as it seemed to be about shunning marriage with men. So to imply racial ostracization is acceptable is no improvement. And truly, what proof is there that all science fiction that didn't spotlight Black Africans prominently was inherently based on political biases? Or, how do they know it wasn't based on leftist biases, and why won't they question whether there's any meat to such a query? It's a shame there's only so many liberals today as much as yesterday who won't ask about the possibilities.

On the other hand, Fox-9 KMSP published a report on a Black teacher in St. Paul, Minnesota who's created a comic focusing on Black science inventors, and this is far from politicized, which makes it far better news:
An elementary school staffer by day, in her free time a St. Paul woman is creating comic books. These aren't your typical comics. The superheroes are Black inventors who have made an impact on American history.

Mercedes Yarbrough is an intervention specialist at Jie Ming Mandarin Immersion Academy in St. Paul. In a room full of third graders, she is ahead of the class. [...]

Yarbrough created a comic book titled, "Black to the Future." It's a new twist on a classic film.

"So the cover has Black inventors, so this is Alexander Miles he innovated the elevator. Dr. Patricia Bath, she’s the one who created laser cataract surgery," says Yarbrough. The superheroes in this comic are Black inventors who have left a mark on American history. A mother of four, Yarbrough says it's all about making learning fun and empowering students of color.

"Why do you want to be in school learning about your people being oppressed? It's 2022 yeah, that’s history, but we also invented and helped build this country and created things that are used every day," says Yarbrough.
This is inspirational, far more than the first news report. History matters in all its forms, but it shouldn't be taught solely for the political goal of victimology, and acting as though oppression can't end or shouldn't be defeated. Identity politics has become a serious problem in this modern age, and needs to be stopped. This kind of education is what we really need everywhere, and if it were more emphasized in the wider media, we wouldn't be in the dire state we are now. So the teacher spotlighted here is the one who really deserves credit for focusing on the positives in life. If more comics like this could be produced, we'd all be in much better shape.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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