It seems we can't go a week without talking about race in America. The issue has been ongoing for several decades with no end in sight thanks to police violence, racial discrimination, and a lack of justice. Just this last week Alfred Olango was shot by police in El Cajon. He was unarmed.
It could be easy for a young black person to lose hope, to believe their skin color is a condemnation of their worth. It's been a trying time to be hopeful, as movements like #BlackLivesMatter are misinterpreted or misrepresented but there are still reasons to be hopeful.
Today, Marvel (you may have heard of them) launched a new series on Netflix called Luke Cage. It stars Mike Colter as a former convict with superhuman strength and unbreakable skin who now fights crime. This is huge. The image of a bulletproof black man is one that America needs now more than ever.
You may recognize Cage from Marvel's previous Netflix outing, Jessica Jones, where he played the romantic interest. That show was itself featured a powerful female lead who also happened to be a rape survivor. Pushing diversity is nothing new for Marvel and Netflix.
Racial violence in America is reaching critical mass. Black children are growing up in a world where they can be shot for holding a BB gun. Luke Cage is more than an image of hope, he's one of defiance. He serves as inspiration for anyone who is afraid to walk the streets.
Luke Cage works on the streets. He's fighting against threats that exist in the real world: gangbangers, criminals, and drug dealers. Making them square up against a bulletproof black man is a symbolic evolution of the superhero formula. When you have a bulletproof protagonist violence becomes empowering. It becomes more than a storytelling device. It becomes a defiant cry against the current depiction of black men in the media.
While comics certainly isn't perfect this is a character who's been around since 1972 as a symbol of black pride. He's been in an interracial relationship, been a member of the Avengers, and continues with his own ongoing comic series today.