Inspired to Inspire

As the new year approaches self-reflection is natural and setting goals is an almost mandatory practice. It’s usually the first thing people ask after wishing you a ‘Happy New Year’. Some view a new year’s resolution with a certain derisive scepticism but I find it a popular yet important tradition to continue to strive to be better and improve every year. Despite the fact that New Year’s Resolutions may not always make it through the year, and that we inevitably begin to doubt ourselves or take on the doubts of others, we can find strength and inspiration if we just remember the past.
Some really remarkable things happened in 2018 affecting the african diaspora but let’s start off by addressing possibly the highest profile source of representation inspiring the african diaspora globally.

blackpantherwomen-600x338

Black Panther was awe-inspiring, beautifully written, intentionally intersectional, an almost all-black cast, a visionary black director and A MOVEMENT. The film did not only inspire and affect the film industry but addressed xenophobic, anti-black and sexist sentiments that became more prominent due to the socio-political climate in 2018. The cast on their promotional run went on to initiate important conversations about representation, the effects of colonialism, xenophobia and pan-africanism.
In sports, LaBron James opened the I Promise School, his vision is to house 240 underprivileged kids in his hometown Akron, Ohio. When he was growing up James missed 83 days of school in fourth grade because his family did not have a car several families offered their support and the following year he started playing basketball. He wants to create a family environment and hopes the school will help kids who are falling behind in education and struggling at home.

10055320-3x2-700x467

There were some amazing pro-black literary advancements in 2018 such as: Becoming by Michelle Obama, Brit-ish by Afua Hirsh and Rise Up: The #Merky Story so far by Stormzy. As a collective, all three books are inspirational and clear evidence that it is possible to follow your passion and succeed.
Becoming was a necessary read and a prime example of just how far education can take us. Michelle Obama’s beautiful and frank account of all the sacrifices it takes to succeed and all the setbacks and pitfalls that as a woman, especially a black woman you will have to, unfortunately, be willing to face in order to push through.

1430212511212_cached-768x480.jpg

Brit-ish was an illuminating read and Afua Hirsch didn’t pull any punches or shy away from the questions that many find difficult and sometimes even awkward to address though necessary if we ever want to achieve a truly equal society. Brit-ish teaches us that when it comes to race, ignoring the truths that are sometimes glaringly obvious won’t solve it.
Rise Up, by Michael Ebenazer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr (or as we all know him ‘Stormzy’) as the title suggest the book was an account of his rise to fame, his story and his message is so important for our generation to know and understand. Stormzy has been very vocal when it comes to the misrepresentation of black youths in London, his opinions about the government and his dedication to levelling the playing field. He has not only launched a Cambridge scholarship for black students, but also a new publishing programme: #Merky Books an imprint of Penguin publishers. His commitment to helping others in the black community is a perfect representation of a good role model.
So as we continue in the New Year, it’s important to remember that we are capable of so much and that we have achieved so many things and will can overcome whatever is placed in our way. This year, you can be your own source of inspiration and when you need it; look to others for it. I implore you to remember this inspiration, the way it made you feel, what it made you believe in, how it led you to act and what it changed about you. In 2018 I will always remember how I felt, the things started to believe in and how that led to set-up a platform for gamers of colour and spread awareness about the lack of diversity in the gaming industry. I set up Melanin Gamers in late October to champion this cause and bring together a community which I hope to grow into a wider community.

The inadequacy of change.

There is a recurring problem that ‘fans’ create by failing to grasp the very simple notion:

If an actor from any race/creed or colour is able to embody the traits and characteristics of a character in a book or a comic, then that actor should, in fact, be able to play that character even if the original character is not from the same race/creed or colour.

Yet it seems that ‘fans’ particularly those of nerd culture have been levelling hateful speech and racist slurs all in the guise of apparently staying true to the original version of the text.

Starfire

Starfire / Anna Diop

African-American actress Anna Diop who is playing Starfire in the up-and-coming live action Teen Titans had to disable her comments on social media after ‘fans’ launched a racist and derogative tirade on her appearance. To clarify she is portraying an orange-skinned radioactive alien who can shoot energy from her hands, any actress playing her surely would have faced backlash for not looking like Starfire unless of course DC had the budget to first discover alien life then hire a real-life alien for the role. Alas, this isn’t why the ‘fans’ are angry as with the hate Kelly Marie Tran received, racism and more often than not sexism reared its ugly head again.

Kelly Marie Tran

Kelly Marie Tran

These vile attacks by these bigots can only be stopped by an increase in diversity. Some could say that these ‘fans’ can’t be blamed for reacting in anger and confusion over the inclusion of people of colour playing roles predominantly portrayed by white actors. They are not accustomed to seeing a person of colour playing a superhero, they are confused and surprised that people of colour can be nerds.

Change will always breed discontent especially from small-minded people who have always enjoyed seeing themselves reflected in the heroes they love. Nevertheless, the change that is taking place which has these ‘fans’ in uproar with the inclusion of not only actors of colour portraying superheroes but those from the LGBT community is inadequate, we need to see more representation, more writers, actors and illustrators who are people of colour and or from the LGBT community so that we can show these ‘fans’ that we are not here to destroy their childhood dreams we are merely here to add more.

 

New Post on my website! Marvel and DC representing

http://www.creativelyanzy.com

It seems that DC and Marvel are making moves to a future that includes more inclusion:

Marvel’s Shuri from Black Panther is getting her own comic book series!

Shuri who is the sister of the current King of Wakanda: T’Challa, is a nerdy tech genius who is also of African descent from the mythical country of Wakanda. As a black nerd, she represents a lot of blerds (black nerds) who don’t usually feature in mainstream media.

The new series which we are all eagerly awaiting will be written by Nigerian-American comic-writer Nnedi Okorafor. Official synopsis according to Marvel’s press release: Shuri will be thrown into a more demanding role when King T’Challa is lost in space!

Here is to hoping that this new comic leads the way to more changes in both the comic book word and literature in general.

Wakanda Forever!

Shuri

Over at DC, they are flying the LGBT flag high with the inclusion of Catherine Kane aka Batwoman a proud and out Lesbian.

To clarify Batwoman will be getting her own show on CW!

This is a crucial and key change in the direction that we’d like to see all platforms taking; having an openly lesbian superhero as the lead in her own show. Fingers crossed when this does well it will open the floodgates to other changes which will lead to more inclusion.

With the addition of Batwoman this expands the DCU on the small screen, where we already have Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, did someone say crossover?

Batwoman