Could Marvel Learn From Disney on Race?

11 May

Racialicious has an interesting article this week on a recent DC Comics coloring “mistake” and its implications.

On Monday I posted how DC Comics had published a corrected version of the Flash family from Flashpoint #1. This portrait included the granddaughter of Barry Allen properly portrayed as a black woman. In the pages that were included in DC’s Green Lantern Free Comic Book Day issue, she has been colored and presented as a mysterious white member of the Flash family.

How did this happen? I have no idea. I asked DC if they wanted to comment on it yesterday, but my email has not been responded to. Neither have I seen any explanation. And even if they did respond, I am sure that they would say it was a “mistake.”

But a mistake that changes one of the few women of color in the Flash family, one of the few women of color in the Legion, one of the few women of color in comics is more than a mistake. It’s a painful reminder that in comics, white is the default. White is the majority. White is the easy choice because you have, according to Marvel’s Tom Brevoort, only a 1% chance of being wrong.

The article is well-worth reading, especially if you haven’t (yet?) given much thought to race in American mainstream comics. And of course, you can’t talk about American mainstream comics without Marvel coming up in conversation.

How painful is it to hear a representative of Marvel, a Disney company – a company who does “corporately mandate” diversity – dismiss diversity so casually? As if it was an effort that wasn’t important? As if it were something that in the scheme of things didn’t really count? That the idea of being inclusive is less important than allowing writers to do what they want.

It seems to me that, while Disney’s record on cultural inclusion is far from perfect, as the parent company of Marvel they may have a few lessons to pass down here. In Lemonade Mouth, for example, issues of race were (oversimplified, but) seamlessly incorporated into the narrative.

Readers, please check out the Racialicious article and then tell me: Do you see Disney doing anything right that Marvel is currently getting wrong?

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