Black Americans Wearing African Clothing Is NOT Cultural Appropriation

Originally posted on Our Legaci:

Maya Angelou and Malcolm X Maya Angelou and Malcolm X in Ghana

The internet has unfortunately become a cesspool for the most simplistic arguments to be sensationalized. The latest finger pointing bandwagon phrase to hit the net is “cultural appropriation.” It’s being slaughtered, with a slew of would be  writers refusing to actually research the meaning of the term before tossing it around carelessly. So is the case with a recent article declaring, that Black Americans were culturally appropriating African cultures by wearing African clothing. It goes without saying, that this bold assertion is as deprived of history, logic and critical analysis as “reverse racism.”

Part I: Let’s begin with the definition of appropriation.

Cultural appropriation is when a dominant culture takes, claims and establishes itself the creator of the cultural heritage and artifacts of a minority and or marginalized culture thereby erasing the history of the marginalized culture.

In Neo-Slave Narratives: Studies of a Social Logic…

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Dammit, just watch Steven Universe Already!

Steven Universe:

Still the best show you aren’t watching. Presented in HD, a new longer Steven Universe open. Something that reveals a bit about the characters, their reasons for doing what they do and in glorious high-definition sound. We even get a glimpse of a new threat from the Homeworld Gems.

Could it be Yellow Diamond? Brrr…

If you watch this show and this new intro doesn’t make you weep, TURN IN YOUR UNIVERSE CARD. Never let us see you again. For the rest of you rabid fans, you didn’t make it to San Diego Comic Con 2015, enjoy!

We love you, Rebecca Sugar (and her amazing team)!

My son asked if The Flash moves so fast, how can he see things. How can I easily explain this?

Answer by Thaddeus Howze:

Because Light is Faster than the Flash!

You can assure your son, Barry Allen as the Fastest Man Alive, is rarely in danger of running faster than he can see because light is almost always faster. In our universe, light is faster than everything!

The Speed Force

The standard answer to most things about the Flash is his relationship to the Speed Force, an enigmatic superset of cosmic energy in the DC Universe, which allows the Flash to perform abilities beyond the laws of physics.

  • The Speed Force is a concept presented in various comic books published by DC Comics, primarily in relation to the various speedsters in the DC Universe.
  • The Speed Force was the extra-dimensional energy that once powered all of the Flash's superhuman abilities. It is not like any other fundamental force.
  • Its origin is likely the same as most superhuman abilities found in the DC Universe, a byproduct of the mysterious omni-energy known as The Source and The Godwave.
  • The ability to access the Speed Force has been limited to only a few individuals in the DC Universe and when DC characters travel to the Marvel Universe, they are unable to access the Speed Force.

The faster the Flash moves the more likely the Speed Force is allowing him to manipulate the laws of physics such as inertia, momentum and force. However, if the Flash should start to approach the speed of light, he would have problems if he was not assisted by the Speed Force. The speed of light is the fastest speed in the Universe, that we know of at 186,282 miles per second or 300,000 kilometers per second.

  • When the Flash is patrolling Central City, he is rarely moving anywhere near his top speed. Most times, he is traveling well below the speed of light, probably no faster than a really nice race car, about two hundred miles an hour. This speed is fast enough he can get anywhere in just a few minutes. He doesn't have to stop for lights, or traffic because he is small enough to fit almost anywhere.
  • A quick way to think about how fast he is moving… 60 miles per hour means he is moving about a mile a minute. A trip to someplace 10 miles a way at a leisurely pace of 60 miles per hour means it takes about ten minutes.
  • If we think of the Flash moving about four times that speed, he could cover that same ten miles in a little over two minutes. More than fast enough to move around a fairly large city with no real traffic restrictions. This is also slow enough so he can get instructions from his friends at Star Labs over his radio. Even if something were twenty miles away, at a safe cruising speed of 240 mph, he is never more than five minutes from anything.
  • In an emergency, if the Flash really wanted to turn on the speed, he might increase his speed to just over the speed of sound at about 760 miles per hour (Mach 1). At this speed though, his ability to change direction is a bit harder so he uses speeds like this when he has lots of straight or gently curving road.
  • While this may seem very fast, race car drivers and pilots control their vehicles, at these speeds, with their well-trained human reflexes.

The Speed Force at work

The source of all human speedsters superhuman abilities is their connection to the Speed Force. Believed to be a subset of the Source, a cosmic repository of energies which power all superhuman ability, this power is uniquely reserved for and accessibly by Human speedsters and anyone utilizing technology which can also access this energy field.

And yes, there is a question of how people like Superman and Wonder Woman have super-speed but don't use the Speed Force. It appears they are able to, as a subset of their own abilities, use greater than human speeds but without the protection and limiters the Speed Force allows. This means when they use their powers, if they aren't careful, they can cause more harm than they might want.

When the Flash is running, the Speed Force surrounds and envelops him in a protective aura.

  • He can extend that aura to people he is carrying, so they are also safe from flying debris, wind burn, friction and other associated speed related issues. All of these energies are bled into the Speed Force and have no effect on the Flash or his surroundings, unless he wants them to. He can withdraw speed from other things or people and add that speed to his own.

Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash, steals speed from Superman, slowing him down and boosting himself ahead of the Man of Steel.

  • Most importantly, the Speed Force is augmenting the Flash's brain and his perception, speeding up his thinking process, helping him to organize and coordinate his movements, extending his awareness of his body so he doesn't touch anyone at the speeds he is moving. It would be disastrous.
  • Once the Flash starts moving at speeds faster than sound, the Speed Force goes into overdrive. Once the Flash is opening up his speed, he is faster than a bullet. To outrun a bullet he needs to be able to reach speeds of up to 1,700 miles per hour!
  • His reflex time is so good and he is so fast, he can, using the Speed Force, remove the momentum and energy from a bullet and pluck it out of the air, like a raindrop. Only the Speed Force would allow him to steal the momentum and energy and add it to his own.

  • When the Flash has to kick it up a notch, he might need to move at 4,000 to 8,000 miles per hour, and he still won't have any trouble seeing things. He reserves speeds like these for long distance country running because it is harder to navigate tight streets, particularly at these speeds.
  • When he starts moving this fast, nothing around him will appear to be moving in relationship to him. He is so fast, the normal world may as well be standing still. At these speeds, he is moving as fast as one of our nation's fastest fighter jet (Mach 5 to Mach 10).
  • Walking people and moving cars will appear to be almost motionless to him. And he is moving so fast, he will be invisible to them.

Here's where the Speed Force's effects become clearly evident to the external viewer.

  • Once the Flash reaches the speed of sound (about 700 mph at sea level) he should be capable of generating a sonic boom and a pressure wake capable of knocking people off their feet as he passes. But he doesn't.
  • Bugs striking him at this speed should have the ability to feel like bullets and anything hitting him from the road like gravel would have the damage dealing capacity of small grenades. But they don't.
  • Gravity no longer pulls him down from the sides of buildings and he is able to skip across the surface of the bodies of water, treating it just like a normal surface for him to run on.
  • At these speeds, his reflexes are so fast that high speed projectiles such as bullets are moving slow enough for him to actually track their movement and avoid them completely. But he won't do that, for fear they might hit innocent bystanders. He just grabs them out of the air and drops them on the sidewalk.

The Speed Force channels all of the effects of his motion, save the ones he wants to manipulate into the energy which powers the Flash. He is able to channel the energy of his movement through though the air and thus causes no disturbance he doesn't want to.

 One of the benefits of his powers, however, will allow him to maintain the ability to think, move and react at those speeds. Even though he is as fast as a fighter jet in the middle of town, the Speed Force helps him compensate and think fast enough to maneuver.

So when is vision a problem for the Flash?

The Flash ran from Central City to Singapore and back in just over three seconds. This means he covered 9,300 miles there and back moving at an estimated 6,000 miles per second!

  • Remember when we said the speed of light was 186,282 miles per second, earlier, the Flash was barely moving in comparison. We measured in miles per hour. Now he is moving in miles per SECOND.
  • He could be said to be moving relativistically: moving fast enough to be measured as a percentage of the speed of light. This means when he ran to Singapore and back, he was traveling at 3/100ths of the speed of light.
  • At this speed, he may begin having difficulties seeing things that are not directly in front of him, because he is now moving fast enough he is distorting light as it approaches him. But this speed isn't really enough to worry about.
  • It's when he reaches extremely close to the speed of light, where he may only be able to see things directly in front of him because he is now faster than the light of things alongside of him.

This is the most extreme representation of the Speed Force, it gives a speedster who can sustain such speeds, the capacity to move, understand, think, act and react at those speeds. Such speeds are very difficult to control and it is unlikely most speedsters can maintain them for long.

Name a time the Flash's vision is affected by his speed?

In a battle against other speedsters, the Flash's powers are pushed, often to their limits.

  • A speedster calling himself ZüM, along with a group of other superheroes (the Hyperclan) wanted to replace the Justice League, and fought the league members. Secretly, they were White Martians, each with powers capable of making them nearly as strong as Superman. Each, however, seemed to specialize in their use of their powers and ZüM, specialized in Speed.
  • The speedster, ZüM and Wally West (the Flash of the era) had an epic battle which showed the Flash was capable of manipulating his own energy using the Speed Force and transferring that energy to an opponent.

  • The Flash mentions when he is traveling at relativistic speeds his vision is compressed so he can only see things directly in front of him. This also means only someone who can react to relativistic effects (like dodging a beam of light) can see or react to him. Zum learned this the hard way.
  • The technique he used to defeat ZüM was dubbed the "Infinite Mass Punch." The mass he channels from approaching the speed of light* would make his fist incredibly massive and capable of transferring enough energy to rival a small nuclear explosion, if the Flash wanted it to. All of this sidestepping of the laws of physics are courtesy of the Speed Force.
  • *Physics Fact: objects made of matter cannot reach the speed of light because the laws of relativity indicate, they would gain infinite mass and would require infinite energy to move them. Thus no object made of matter can reach the speed of light. (Which has weird implications for the Flash, but that's a Flash Fact for another day.)

In summary:

It's safe to say, when the Flash is doing his job from day to day, he doesn't have to worry about not being able to see things around him.

  • The Speed Force protects him from dangerous environmental conditions brought on from his use of super-speed.
  • It increases his awareness, reflexes and reaction time to compensate for his increased superhuman speed. His brain activity must be improved billions of times in order to keep up with his superhuman activities.
  • His awareness has some limitations, since the faster he moves, the less he is able to take in, particularly if he reaches speeds that are a percentage of the speed of light. The closer he gets to the speed of light, the less he should theoretically be able to see.
  • The Flash rarely gets to speeds where he worries about relativistic effects like compressed photons and the like, so there is nothing to worry about as the Flash fights the forces of evil.


The Flash does have feats where he is faster than light. In many cases, much faster than light.

Over the decades, the Flash has been shown to be faster than a beam of light which means he must somehow act as a form of energy capable of moving faster than light. (In comics, its possible, in reality, it isn't. At least not yet.)

  • In this interstellar race, Wally is running many times faster than light. He is moving so fast, he is able to see the boundary to the Speed Force (the pretty rainbow colored wall). This barrier is where all speedsters who can access the Speed Force can end up if they travel too fast…(whatever too fast means for a particular speedster, it varies for each one). Objects which travel into the Speed Force enter a kind of nirvana or heaven and are reluctant to return to the world.

A last minute save by Krackl keeps Wally West from falling into the Speed Force.

  • In those comics where the Flash moves faster than light, we are forced to accept that somehow, the Speed Force compensates the Flash for the information he should no longer be able to see visibly and allows him to continue operating at peak efficiency.
  • There are too many feats to mention where this happens, so we, as readers, are forced to accept that the Flash and his abilities are the stuff of comics and pseudo-science, powered strictly by imagination.

There's nothing wrong with using your imagination. The great scientist and thinker Albert Einstein once said:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Just because the Flash is imaginary, doesn't mean you can't learn a Flash Fact or two related to speed, motion, momentum, relativity, gravity, mass and the other laws and effects of physics the Flash gets to thumb his nose at.

Lucky guy, eh? Now who's running to Italy to get me a pizza?

My son asked if The Flash moves so fast, how can he see things. How can I easily explain this?

To those who have been reading Marvel and DC comics for the past 30 years, how has the quality of the stories (plot and writing) changed?

Answer by Thaddeus Howze:

Robert Frost's answer sums up a part of my personal perspective but I wanted to go just a bit further. I was hoping someone else would chime in because I feel so old talking about the reduction in overall quality of comics.

But the reduction in quality is not in their production values. Comics are more beautiful than they have ever been. Printed on better paper, colorful in a way the old comic creators would have given a limb to be able to create, they are a visual extravaganza, whose decades of technique can be (not always) shown by the proper artist/writing/editing team of creating works whose like has rarely been seen.

More modern works by George Perez, Geoff Johns, Mark Millar and many other legendary names have been responsible for some of the best and brightest events in recent comics. And yes, I know there are many others.


What had changed for me in the comic industry was the change in the perspective of the heroes and the story themes.

They have become dark anti-heroic versions of themselves. They lack hope, most no longer believe in a brighter future and if there were characters among them that did, (Charles Xavier, for example) they seem to meet an untimely end… (Yes, Xavier has died before…so he may not stay dead.)

The stories in modern comics are patently less cheerful, less hopeful and more about a creeping despair, not a climb toward the top of a mountain of challenges, but more of an inexorable movement toward an unchangeable world whose inertia has become unable to stop its slide toward defeat.

Extreme fans whose perspectives are being catered to have reduced the overall quality of the work for the rest of us. Such catering/pandering seem to effect even the slightest changes to long standing characters such as Wonder Woman who after forty years, still can't get a full pair of pants or a jacket, without incurring fanboy outrage.


The most pressing changes I notice in the comic industry include:

  • Superheroes don't fight villains exclusively. As a matter of fact it is increasingly difficult to determine where the line between hero and villain is drawn.
  • Is Doctor Doom a heroic villain? Is (was) Wolverine a murderous hero? How about the Punisher? He's killing mobsters who have no problem murdering the average citizen for wealth and power. Is the Punisher the solution or part of the problem. How about Spawn? He fights evil in some of its purest forms, using powers derived from Evil. He uses the same methods his foes use including torture and torment. Ghost Rider does as well. This widening of the grey moral boundary is one of the most exciting thing (to a lot of readers) to happen in comics. I still question if it is good, right or necessary.
  • When I grew up reading comics, it wasn't unusual for the occasional superheroic dust-up when two heroes who hadn't met before or when a costume change might cause a mistaken identity and the two would battle before realizing they were on the same side. Then they would bring the pain to the bad guys, who were clearly defined.

One of my favorite comics of the 80s. Marvel Two-in-One was always a bit of a clash of heroic styles and the occasional hero slugfest before getting down to the business of fighting villainy.

  • Now? Superheroes spend as much time fighting each other as they did villains. What happened to the brotherhood of earlier eras? What happened to the greater good? Why have all of the stories become about hero on hero conflict?
  • I blame Secret Wars, the Beyonder and all of their spinoffs for this trend. Today we have Civil War and a bunch of other superhero conflicts where the ability to tell whose side you should be one is met with a colossal "meh". It would appear the Secret Wars will be making a reappearance in the next couple of years as well. <Sigh.>
  • The superheroes don't break up secret cabals, they now become them. DC had an entire storyline where the Justice League mindwipes its members because of a disagreement about how to handle a rapist. Marvel has a group of supposed super-intelligent heroes who plot how to "protect" the world from threats only they can perceive. They even call themselves "The Illuminati."

Marvel's Illuminati – a secret cabal of good guys? When did good guys form cabals anyway?

  • There are times when superheroes of one universe might be considered supervillains in another. The Authority, an otherworld version of the Justice League, for a time were some of the most feared metahumans on their world and likely several nearby realities as well.

The Authority: as scary a version of the Justice League you ever want to see.

  • Supervillains have now become better heroes than the heroes themselves. Witness both the popularity and effectiveness of the Marvel series: Thunderbolts.

This transformation in the status quo has left me breathless and hopeless for writing where the characters return to their more heroic lifestyles.

But with all of that visual splendor I mentioned earlier, there are ugly politics of race and gender hiring. The Big Two of Marvel and DC have both come under fire in recent years for their lack of diversity in either of their bullpens as far as regular writers, artists or editors are concerned.

The last thirty years has shown how little diversity there is in the hiring of creative talent and how little the medium's color palette has changed over the decades. While our world has grown more complex and racially integrated such change has not managed to creep into the comics themselves. Marvel's recent efforts to bring in some diversity had resulted in the gender-bending of Thor and the recent forced retirement of Steve Rogers and replacement of Sam Wilson in the titular role of Captain America.

The new, more diverse Avengers…

Comic characters created long ago are generating top dollars at the box office. This has renewed creator's rights lawsuits against comics companies for a slice of the ever-growing pie created by movies and those characters. With money being potentially made not through the comic medium but through television, movies, merchandising and advertising, the comic has now become little more than a gateway industry whose primary mission is to set up other media engines for potential financial growth.

Comics, their characters, their themes, their once revolutionary perspectives have fallen by the wayside, secondary to the the overall need to make money for the corporate bottom line.

There are so many things that undermine what was once a simple pleasure created by individuals who wanted to tell heroic and mythic stories. Even the underlying spirit of the characters has been irrevocably changed:

Compare the perspective on my favorite hero, Superman:

  • Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings at a single bound!
  • Voices: "Look up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman!"
  • Announcer: "Yes, it's Superman, strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman, who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands; and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, fights a never ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way."

To his more modern counterpart in the Man of Steel:

  • Faster than a cruise missile, more powerful than an exploding nuclear weapon, able to span the globe in mere seconds!
  • Screams of terror from the ground: Look up in the sky! It's an alien death machine! It's destroying our city! Is he going to save us? It's Superman!
  • Announcer: Yes, it's Superman, refugee from another planet whose inhabitants were too arrogant or lazy, we are never sure which, to determine what was wrong with whatever mishap caused their planet to explode. (Planets don't explode unless you are really doing something terribly irresponsible.)
  • Building a rocket small enough for one, his parents sent a child whose superhuman potential could have rendered the Earth, desolate if he landed in the hands of the wrong people, Kal-El would grow up ostracized and alone before he decided he should help people.

Kal-El, hobo of Steel

  • Discovering renegade Kryptonians want to destroy the Earth, Kal-El chooses to protect Humanity, resulting in the deaths of only millions who will likely revile him and other aliens in general setting up a movie franchise where one of the world's most recognizable icons becomes a character no one wants to admit they actually know personally.
  • Superman, angst-filled hero from another planet who has yet to inspire this latest generation to anything other than wholesale destruction of entire cities, the defeat of another Kryptonian threat with the murder (okay, necessary execution /manslaughter) of an enemy more powerful than himself.
  • Yes, Superman, furthering the fear the common man has of an alien who looks like them, can fly faster than jets, can destroy entire cities in about twenty minutes and completely unable to be held accountable for his actions, by anyone."

​Yes, this pretty much undermines my viewpoint of these iconic characters for me and makes me long for those ridiculous stories like A Tale of Two Supermen.


My biggest feeling about the comic industry is that it reflects the darkness of the real world, reinforced with the horrors capable of being generated by virtue of being a world of imagination.

Where in the real world we contend with terrorists, environmental catastrophe, and the threat of social collapse as our economies become more intertwined.

In the Marvel Universe, we see this reflected in the collapse of the multiversal membranes and other Earths trying to occupy the space of our Earth, with our finest heroes having to defeat and potentially slay versions of themselves trying to protect THEIR Earth.

No matter how you slice this, someone has to lose and this undermines what comics have always meant to me. The underlying theme in comics, which I managed to bring into my own life was this:

Do your best to find a win-win for everyone. Real heroes don't accept the win-lose scenario. We fight for the best possible scenario for everyone involved. When you are forced to make that choice, the hero sacrifices himself before allowing those without the power, the capacity and the responsibility to make that choice in his place.

Today's comics promote the idea there can be no true winners. Only those who lose a little less than those who lose everything.

I thought the idea of promoting mythic heroes was to talk about how they overcame the odds already stacked against them by being clever, strong, wise, unorthodox or thorough just plain cussedness. Determined to find a solution, not only of convenience but one promoting a future worth having, not just the future we have to settle for.

Sadly, I don't see those heroes anymore. I guess they weren't lucrative enough for corporate America. Marvel has taken a page from the DC playbook and begun destroying pieces of its Multiverse, because nothing makes money like destroying the Universe.

For DC it was Crisis on Infinite Earths, for Marvel, the Incursions taking place in New Avengers. Whatever it is, the story will make money but won't demonstrate the heroism we have come to associate with these heroes when I was growing up.

I see this as the twilight of the comic hero, a being who promoted a perspective there isn't room in the future. One where you could resist the inexorable descent into mediocrity, strive for greatness and recognize it wasn't in the achieving of that greatness that mattered but in the striving.

To those who have been reading Marvel and DC comics for the past 30 years, how has the quality of the stories (plot and writing) changed?

Why did DC and Marvel change the ethnicity of its characters, Green Lantern and Johnny Storm?

To Reflect the Real World

Soho, New York City – 2015 – Just remember this picture, we’ll get back to it in a moment or two.

I normally stay out of this particular conversation because it makes people uncomfortable. Mostly me. But today I am going to go with the idea this is a troll seeking to provoke controversy and I am going to lay the smackdown on this idea once and for all, political correctness, be damned.

Once upon a time:

There was a nation known for its less than ideal treatment of what it deemed minority members of their population. These populations hadn’t done anything wrong other than exist. There were many social issues around these populations, particularly how they came to be in this nation.

There was much inherent and underlying cultural shame in their being brought to this nation, why they were brought here, the wars fought over their being here and ultimately their release from four hundred years of chattel slavery at the hands of one of American history’s bloodiest wars.

As much as we like to pretend this distasteful part of American history didn’t happen, and revisionists work daily to change its inherent meaning, causation and outcomes, the truth stands. The Civil War was fought over the maintenance of slaves and the Slave State.

What made it worse was once those minorities were released from bondage, they weren’t allowed to have a piece of the pie. They weren’t eagerly embraced by those who wronged them for centuries. They were falsely imprisoned, ostracized, marginalized, segregated and even attacked for decades after their so-called freedom had been obtained. This was not a good time for anyone who wasn’t deemed “White” in America.

What does this have to do with comics?

At the same time this was going on:

Birmingham, 1963: A 17 year old is attacked by police dogs during a Civil Rights peaceful protest.

This was going on:

The mighty Avengers were foiling the threat of Loki.

Now ask yourself: this new mythology of superheroes, heroic legends fighting newly created monsters of science and old mythology wasn’t spawned in a vacuum. These new heroes, related distantly to their 1940 predecessors, were created by White men who had the opportunity and lack of socialized constraints to write these creations who would become legendary in American culture.

These legends weren’t spawned in a place where people were not affected by the social and cultural mores of the world around them. In fact, they were a reflection of that world, as those writers and artists saw it and encouraged to make it so.

  • Thus, do you believe it could be possible that the world that would attack Black people on the street with dogs would empower the same marginalized people with worlds of fantasy and power when the culture they lived in wanted nothing to do with them?
  • That they would have been given an opportunity to show up empowered, able to challenge the status quo, alter the perspectives of White America and be seen as equal both in the real world and this mythic one?

Not a  a chance in hell.

Enter: The Blue Marvel

The very nature of the hypocrisy is such that a character created by Modern Marvel uses this very theme as part of his origin story!

In 1962, Adam Brashear received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President John F. Kennedy on the day the President asked him to retire, since it had been discovered by the public that he is an African-American. As the Blue Marvel, Brashear wore a full-face helmet, but when it was damaged in a battle, his identity was revealed. There was massive controversy as the era of 1962 was too racist to accept a black superhero. Although Kennedy personally approved of Brashear’s actions, the President reluctantly decided to ask Brashear to step down, and the Blue Marvel conceded.

So we are clear on the subject: This hero did not exist in 1962! He was NOT part of Marvel’s lineup of heroes and did not predate the first appearance of Marvel’s first African superhero, the Black Panther (appearing in Fantastic Four #52, July 1966), nor the first African American superhero, the high-flying Falcon (appearing in Captain America #117, Sept. 1969).

This retcon was created to explain why this particular powerful metahuman was not fighting crime at the same time the Fantastic Four was supposedly experiencing their origin story in midtown Manhattan.

Marvel used the specter of racism to explain retroactively why there weren’t more heroes of color in their lineup of mythological beings who could have been any color but were almost exclusively White.

This is not an apology, mind you. But it’s as close as Marvel will ever get.

Black superheroes in the Marvel Universe were already rare. Powerful ones, beings capable of competing with the likes of Thor, Iron Man and the Hulk, were non-existent until the creation of Storm, the mutant weather-manipulator who appeared in Giant X-men #1 in 1975. And she would not grow truly formidable for another fifteen years, give or take.

What does this have to do with race-bending and gender-bending in comics and media today?

What this has to do with and why so many fans rage against the change is simple and has to do with the very first picture in this article. The world we live in does not resemble the ideal world of White America, where everyone is White, minorities are not seen, and the hegemony of White power is omnipresent in this nation.

Instead it looks far more like Soho in that first picture.

Diverse, mixed, people of all sorts of colors, cultures, social groups and religions populate the nation’s largest cities. While the economic power of Whites has continued to grow, their numbers are slowly being eroded and this ultimately means their social cache, their influence, their dominance over all forms of media will also be reduced. But it may take some time.

As media continues to develop, however, the people who are paying to see movies being made already know what many media companies are unwilling to accept.

If all of your heroes stay White, you will lose your audience.
Maybe not today, but as you transition toward the future, this will become an unacceptable circumstance.

Here’s where the problem lies.

The fans will say:

  • But those heroes were always White.
  • Why is it a problem now?
  • We should stay true to the canon.
  • We should just make new heroes for those minorities to aspire to instead of changing the established ones.

My response is simple:

  • Get over yourself and check your privilege at the door.
  • We don’t live in the racially-segmented, culturally-insensitive, radically-offensive time of your fathers and grandfathers.
  • While it may have been considered acceptable to pretend Black people couldn’t be anything other than slaves, servants or entertainers in 1940s, 1950s or 1960s, it is now considered the very soul of racism to continue to promote those ideas today.
  • If these entertainments were created in 1960s I would expect to see an all-white superhero team because Blacks and other minorities were simply excluded from any form of media that didn’t portray them in a negative light.
  • This is the year of our Lord, 2015. We are supposed to be better than this. What we say we are supposed to want, equality and an egalitarian society should be reflected in our workplaces, our streets and in our media. It should be reflected in the hopes and aspirations of all of our citizens not just our White ones.
  • All of our children should have the opportunity to see themselves represented mythically, as idealized constructs, the same way White men have been allowed to do since such media came into existence.

And don’t get it twisted. I recognize the world we live in is still very racially divided. There is still murder and mayhem based on color, religion, culture all over the globe and it is unfortunately not likely to change to the more idealized perspective to which I am espousing. I get that.

But if you tell me it is okay to say, there should never be any representation of people of marginalized groups: women, LGBT, Black, Asian, just to start, and every movie, every television show, every newscast should feature exclusively White men in positions of power and authority…

You have a problem. And you should get some help. Look back at that picture of Soho.

This is the future. This is the world we will slowly come to have everywhere. Different regions will have different mixtures but we are mixing. We are recombining to form new relationships with each other.

And as such, we are asking…no we are demanding our media, our entertainment, to reflect a viewpoint that is not only White or male (of which comic companies are all to unwilling to change) but that it be about something other than White male stereotypes of superiority.

Two of Marvel’s hottest properties are the new Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan and Jane Foster as Thor.

The character Cyborg, has experienced a renaissance under the hands of a writer of color, David Walker.

On television, Iris West has become a woman of color.

In the movies, the Fantastic Four has been presented with Johnny Storm as a Black man.

Heimdall, the guardian of the Bifrost has been portrayed by the legendary Idris Elba.

These relatively minor roles have caused the comic and movie fanbase to boycott the publications, stay home from the movies, and rail online as if Ragnarök itself were around the corner. They scream as loud as their tortured voiceboxes will allow: How could this happen? Why would you do this?

The question should be: Why has it taken so long for anyone to notice the lack? It’s right in front of you.

It will be nearly twenty of Marvel’s newest movies before a woman or a Black lead character will be featured. Really?

Has it taken this long to recognize there is a problem? Or is it just White privilege which prevents anyone from seeing the problem. Because to them, there isn’t one.

This is how its always been.

That, my friends, IS the problem.

  • And if you are one of those people railing against change,
  • railing against a diverse representation of people of color appearing in roles they have previously not been seen in,
  • if you are indeed saying only Whites can be superheroic,
  • you are the problem with our world today.

Perhaps you should stop going outside. Stop going to the movies. Stop doing anything which puts you in contact with anyone else. Because the ideal world represented in the racially-insensitive, but oh so popular series, Mad Men, is gone.

This is the future. And the present. Let’s just go ahead and accept things the way they are.

Just like Black people and other minorities had to accept things the way they were.

As for Green Lantern being a White guy…

He started off a white guy named Hal Jordan, test pilot.

If you are young enough, you may have never heard about Hal until recently because this Black Green Lantern, John Stewart, was all the rage in the animated series, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. For nearly a decade and ninety episodes, give or take, he was the only Green Lantern some had ever known.

In recent years, and in the terribly irresponsible Green Lantern (2011), Hal Jordan was returned to prominence, likely for the same reason most White heroes who get replaced for a time do, because the rabid, foaming at the mouth, comic-buying fan base said: We want him back.

Was this because John Stewart wasn’t good enough? Certainly didn’t seem to be a problem for nearly a decade or more. In fact, John Stewart as Green Lantern, was a necessary change for DC to have any diversity in their major lineup of heroes at all.

The same case could be made for the change in Johnny Storm, portrayed by Michael B. Jordan in the recent Fantastic Four movie.

Storm being a step-brother to Susan Richards, doesn’t inherently change the quartet’s dynamic. A change that is not a change, isn’t a change. He’s still the same character, with the same powers, with a slightly altered origin story. Is this a reason to lose one’s mind?

Only if you think you are losing something else instead.

Perhaps the misguided belief that only Whites should have power. Because if you look at the history of metahumans in comics and note that no one has a problem with a White guy having incredible, unbelievable power. There doesn’t seem to be any lack of them.

But the history of comics shows that few, if any such characters of equal power or capacity were ever regularly depicted as heroes of color representing any social group outside of Whites. And when they do have power equal to Whites, it doesn’t last long.

Monica Rambeau was such a character. When she first hit the scene in the Avengers, she was the second person to ever carry the name Captain Marvel (1982).

  • When she first hit the scene, her powers were so great, she was considered to be one of the most powerful Avengers to EVER exist. But it didn’t take long for Marvel to change that.
  • Yes, I said Marvel. It was the decision of writers, editors and publishers who made the changes to the character. It was a conscious choice.
  • Not only was she stripped of the powers that made her the equal of ANY Avenger including Thor, but she was stripped of her codename as well and she became Photon.
  • Far less powerful and less interesting, she was eventually benched and disappeared from view until her recent reappearance in Mighty Avengers and returned to her previous power level by no less than the same Black hero who supposedly hid away for 53 years, Blue Marvel…

Now, she is as powerful as she was before. At least until those aforementioned ‘side effects’ kick in…

You have to remember, all of the decisions made about these characters depends on:

  • Whether they get good writers or not
  • Whether a writer who may be sensitive to the social lifestyle of the character (i.e. women writers, or writers of color) ever has a chance to write the book, and indeed this is invariably NOT the case.
  • Whether the effort to ensure the successful deployment of said characters is made

All of these things are decided by the producers and publishers of said characters. You can be assured every issue of Thor was not a good one. There are plenty of times his book did not sell well, for extended periods. And there are times when his book might even go off the shelves, briefly.

The difference is: Marvel didn’t give up on trying to find an audience for him. They were certain they could sell his book. So they kept trying.

This is why Thor is still on the shelves sixty years later and Luke Cage is not.

Is Thor inherently more interesting? No. But significantly more effort is made to keep him on the shelves.

By any means necessary. (I’m sorry, Malcolm X, but it’s appropriate in this instance.)

The reason we don’t see new heroes of color is because no one is making the effort to create them. No one has decided there needs to be one or two or eight. They currently don’t see any value in diversity.

Or maybe because the creators of comics enjoy the same level of privilege their comic counterparts get and just don’t want it to change.

What about a Latino Superhero?*

What about it? There haven’t been many of them. Goodness knows there should have been more by now. In old school comics, there may have been one or two, but I have to think hard to remember: Superfriends had one, but he appeared in less than ten episodes, and I was never truly clear about what his powers were. These characters got so little screen time between the four of them, any mainstream Superfriend could equal their total time in a single episode.

Apache Chief would later go on to an episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law and get more screen time there than he did during his entire time with the Superfriends.

A few other Latinos of note among DC. Fire, appearing in Superfriends #25 and reappearing in the Global Guardians and Justice League. A second stringer for most of her career.

Then I remember Vibe (far right), a break-dancing member of Justice League Detroit during the comic’s less popular eras.

The legacy heroes replacing both the Question (Renee Montoya) and Wildcat (Yolanda Montez) of DC Comics. Both Latina women and both characters languished in obscurity for the most part.

Are there any famous Latino superheroes?

There may be others, but the most famous one I know is most likely NOT KNOWN as a Mexican-American. His name is Kyle Rayner. You may know him as the legacy hero, Green Lantern.

Kyle Rayner was a struggling-but-gifted freelance graphic artist who was raised in North Hollywood and currently lived and worked in Los Angeles. Kyle was raised by his mother as an only child; his father abandoned his mother when she was pregnant. It was later revealed that his father was a Mexican-American CIA agent named Gabriel Vasquez and that Aaron Rayner was merely an alias.

Kyle Rayner would become Green Lantern after Hal Jordan destroys the Green Lantern Corps during one of his many periods of remorse over one such thing or another. At this time, the Guardian, Ganthet, makes Kyle the custodian of the Last Green Lantern and Ring in the universe. Kyle eventually masters the ring and begins rebuilding the Corps.

Kyle Rayner would go on to be considered one of the most powerful Green Lanterns of Sector 2814, possibly one of the most powerful Green Lanterns ever. He would be instrumental in saving the Green Lantern Corps, he would master every color of the Emotional Spectrum, save the Guardians of Oa and nearly all of space-time itself. I am willing to bet, most people don’t know he is considered Mexican-American.

And here in lies the lesson:

  • A hero goes only as far as his writers and editors are willing to take him. The idea that heroes of color sell less well, are less viable, and inherently less interesting is BS.
  • Considering the War of Light series for Green Lantern is a high point in the series entire career, and it stars Kyle Rayner.
  • Before Kyle’s example, there were few minority characters given the opportunity to shine at the level he has. He has proven instrumental and as capable as any White hero before him.
  • Even heroes such as the Green Lantern, John Stewart, were depicted unevenly and were more often failures than successes. The destruction of the planet Xanshi is laid at John Stewart’s feet. Millions died due to his hubris. And he is never allowed to forget it:


The dominant subculture in control of the media knows one thing, if it isn’t aware of anything else:

  • Images are powerful.
  • Media is powerful.
  • It shapes minds.
  • It alters consciousness.
  • It inspires.
  • It changes the dreams of everyone who interacts with it.

If media and advertising didn’t work to do these things, would we spend hundreds of billions of dollars every year worldwide, to keep making it? Absolutely not.

In media, the rule is: Perception is Reality.

Think of comics and movie depictions of superheroes as advertising for the imagination.

When you hear the litany of society saying Blacks or minorities don’t aspire to anything, I have to wonder:

  • If they saw more of themselves reflected in their media,
  • If they saw themselves as able to transform the world,
  • If they saw themselves as instrumental in the shaping of today’s world,
  • If they saw themselves being portrayed in media in a positive light instead of always in orange jumpsuits and handcuffs,
  • if they saw themselves the same way White children get to see themselves portrayed in media, maybe it could make a difference for them.

Maybe it could teach them and inspire them the same way Action #1 inspired a generation or two including mine.

This clamor for representation is not about “political correctness”. It is about the understanding that media can shape consciousness. If you alter media to falsely represent society, then you are responsible for intentionally undermining any group you falsely represent there.

People are tired of that. Fanboys notwithstanding, People have had enough of misrepresentation. Do better or lose future audiences. People aren’t sitting on their hands anymore. Change is coming.

*That asterisk you saw earlier

I may have been remiss in not discussing the major cultural shift when the comic company Milestone Media hit the scene in 1993. It was one of the first major production companies featuring diverse lineups of multiple minorities as lead characters.

  • Milestone Media is a company best known for creating Milestone Comics and securing an unheard of publishing and distribution deal with DC Comics and the Static Shock cartoon series.
  • It was founded in 1993 by a coalition of African-American artists and writers (namely Dwayne McDuffie, Denys Cowan, Michael Davis and Derek T. Dingle) who believed that minorities were severely underrepresented in American comics. Milestone Media was their attempt to correct this imbalance.
  • Christopher Priest participated in the early planning stages of Milestone Media, and was originally slated to become the editor-in-chief of the new company, but bowed out for personal reasons before any of Milestone’s titles were published.
  • By early 1995, Davis had left Milestone as well, to become President of the new Motown Machine Works imprint, published by Image Comics. Cowan soon joined him to serve as Editor in Chief.
  • The shockwaves in the comic industry lead by these prominent African American writers has never been equaled and even when Milestone and its characters were absorbed by DC Comics, it was never forgotten.
  • New rumblings about the resurgence of Milestone Media appear to be in the works but it is an entirely different discussion worthy of time and attention outside the scope of this article. SDCC: Milestone Media Returns to DC Comics as “Earth-M” – Comic Book Resources

Kwezi – a comic from South African writer Loyiso Mkize.

Too late. Change is here.

Originally posted on Quora: Why did DC and Marvel change the ethnicity of its characters (Green Lantern and Johnny Storm)? 

A Prison Nurse’s look at Sandra Bland’s Death

Sandra Bland
by Paul Spector RN, EMT-P, CPT. U.S. ARMY Ret.

I worked as an RN in a California State Prison where staged “suicides” occurred regularly. I fought for my patients, know how the cover-up works and have some insights. In 2012, I was hit by a truck, so this paper is done with a lot of help, individuals risking jobs and lives.

Behind badges and Rank, Sociopaths lurk in American prisons. Cameras are their enemy.
With scant information, some of our conclusions will be proven wrong. As more is known, we feel there will be more lies, inconsistencies and abuse uncovered. With more data will come more clarity, but the Code of Silence must be penetrated.

Prison deaths from mistreatment are mislabeled “suicide”, allowing continued abuse and avoiding lawsuits. I’ve spent 8 years trying to stop the practice that killed Sandra Bland.

Sandra’s capture, abuse and lynching is a hate crime. Usually the facts are buried with the bodies, thousands of bodies, but this is Sandra Bland, Star of Sandy Speaks.

In prison, infliction of mental and physical agony on helpless captives provides sexual pleasure to sick individuals. No penetration is needed, violent predators value power and control more. Sandra’s treatment, particularly isolation, are techniques found in CIA prisons and Guantanamo Bay. They are unbearable and leave no marks. The UN calls it torture.

A big sociopathic thrill is causing the victim so much pain they kill themselves. At my prison, CMC, a sociopath’s playground, practiced professionals using drug overdoses combined with agony in a setting of strict isolation and neglect were used to induced “suicide”. Often the target is provided with a sharp object or a plastic bag. It’s still not suicide. Sometimes though, it’s a murder made to look like suicide.

From the beginning, your driving is fine. Officer Encinia, spots you and does a U turn. Driving his cruiser aggressively, you pull over, unaware he is a predator. His act is for the camera, smoothly creating and escalating a confrontation to disguise your kidnapping as an arrest. He plans to assault you, this is about power and control, not your driving or your cigarette.

Using threats and a weapon Sandra is forced from her car. Everything that follows is for the entertainment of her abductors and has nothing to do with lawful detention whatsoever. After stealing your phone and removing you from camera range the coward attacks. Wearing a sheet, he might be OK with video but he needed the uniform to trick Sandra into surrendering.

The attack is vicious. Serious pain from metal cuffs and a wrist twist forces her to pull away, a practiced technique, part of a take-down. Following you to the ground, straddling you with knee on your spine and neck is the stuff of bondage and humiliation pornography, as is his screaming at you to stop fighting as he inflicts the worst pain of your life.

This sick scenario is experienced primarily by sexual assault victims. I’ve treated these injuries in ER’s, they are consistent with gang rape. Like Sandra, not all such victims survive. Totally inappropriate here of course. Even without penetration, this is a savage, ultimately fatal, sexual assault.

He enslaves your body but not your spirit. That’s why he pounded your head into the ground. When terror and agony couldn’t break you, he went after your mind. A smart, strong Black Woman had no place in his world so he tried to kill you. He was afraid you would Speak.

Others joined in assaulting you off-camera, trusting the “code of silence” to protect them. You now need an ambulance. As an ER nurse and a paramedic, I’m angry your request is denied. Confused and injured, your booking photo reflects trauma, both physical and psychological.

Isolation is used in N. Korea to break POW’s. Victims like Michelle Knight say it’s worse than the beatings, rapes, and starvation. It causes brain damage. Forcing Sandra to endure this additional torture was as cruel and unusual a punishment as can be imagined. It was, in fact, a death sentence, no trial needed.

My patients were regularly poisoned with Gabapentin and other drugs. Your THC ingestion in jail is poisoning too, even if you took it willingly. Cavity searched, you take nothing in and eat what they give you or be force fed. Pot didn’t contribute to your death but may have made you easier to kill and pin your death on drugs. Blaming pot for your death indicates desperation.

The plastic bag, one of the few items in your cell, is too convenient and is not supposed to be there. Deadly as a gun or knife, don’t be fooled or misled, it’s not incompetence, not a mistake, it’s a weapon. It’s there for a reason. Everyone working in prison knows this. Suicided for a traffic ticket! This SCREAMS setup.

3 days and your wounds are still filled with dirt, infected. No TD shot? Pain or fever meds? Antibiotics? Neosporin? Ice? X-rays for your wrist’s, arm, shoulder, ribs and neck? A band-aid? Lab work? A CT after the bad man, happy you had epilepsy, pounded your head into the ground? Ariel Castro took better care of his victims, as, sadly, did most slave owners.

The intake forms with questions on depression, suicide. Who filled them out? It should have been done with medical staff, but they would have treated your wounds, seen you were too traumatized to sign, corrected discrepancies, set up 15 minute checks, a suicide watch and seizure precautions at the very least. Ignoring dozens of cuts? There is no possible excuse, this paperwork reflects not just incompetence but intentional deceit.

In death, your body appears to be dehydrated, probably from neglect, fever, and internal injuries. Video shows guards drinking bottled spring water in front of you! At CMC disabling the sink to force victims to use the toilet for drinking induced dehydration. Using physical and psychological abuse, they sickened and tortured you beyond human understanding.

Fellow prisoners were prevented from cleaning your wounds or God forbid, comforting you. Exchanging your pretty dress for ugly “pepto pink”, Officer Encinia gave your broken body to his co-workers, lying in his report. He doesn’t want you to Speak. Not ever.

An unbroken chain of cruelty striped you, a Champion of Freedom, of all Freedom. From smoking a cigarette to breathing air, no life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness for you. To these uncaring monsters it’s a fun sport, a prison lynching they fully expect to get away with.

Nothing to do with a traffic ticket or cowardly Officer Encinas’s “injuries”, these are the actions of sociopaths and racists. Armed, violent predators using badges as a weapon. Events during and after your killing are the result of planning. It is even possible you were targeted before the phony traffic stop as Officers can track plates.

Locking you in a room with a dead phone and a garbage bag was intentional. Effective in separating you from your loved ones and rescue. The nonworking phone also justifies taking you to other locations, supposedly out of “kindness” but it’s a ruse. If you were removed from camera view, I suspect the worst.

At CMC this would mean humiliation and “phone book” therapy – beatings with objects that leave no mark. Waterboarding and other airway obstruction techniques, like suffocation with a plastic bag are popular and also leave no marks. The rule is keep silent or it will happen again.

In California, Doctors incorrectly certifying “suicides” are paid by the State, Texas seems no different. The organization responsible for the racist Sheriff, Officer Encinia and the incredibly negligent prison staff is given every opportunity to do a through, professional job of tampering with the evidence.

The fact your body did not show signs of a violent struggle is meaningless. Drugged or unconscious, restrained or not, the captive is 100% helpless. Use of a plastic bag to make murder look like suicide is a known prison technique. As a suicide method it’s hard to do with 2 good arms, beyond her now limited physical abilities, not part of Sandra’s knowledge base.

No defensive wounds will be found if the killers are prison workers. A big part of the game is “proving” they are smarter than the law by getting away with it. The FBI teaches them evidence procedure. Gloves on, killing with a plastic bag is easy, no prints, no struggling, no evidence.

Filled with purpose Sandra, release at hand, about to start your dream job, be reunited with your loved ones, your mission and your camera phone, you had zero motive for suicide. For you, it’s party time. Your abusers have the problem. They can’t let you Speak, a potent motive for murder.

Your faith in God, your life’s mission to make Black Lives Matter, made you, like Joan of Arc, unbreakable, a Warrior of epic proportions. With over 30 years experience, including in a Forensic State Mental Hospital, I assure you this is not and, for numerous reasons, could not, be suicide. Her death is a setup, staged. Sandra was kidnapped, violently assaulted and killed. She did not take her own life with a planted garbage bag!

Prisons excel in cover-ups. False reports and coordinated lies now discredit Law Enforcement Nationwide. Black Lives continue to slip away as Grand Jury’s look away. Supported by tax dollars, teams of lawyers and military hardware, the carnage will not be stopped by bad publicity or wishful thinking – not in Waller County, Texas, State Prisons or anywhere else

Henry Highland Garnet: An Address to the Slaves of the United States of America

Photo: Henry Highland Garnet, circa 1881.
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Henry Highland Garnet (b. December 23, 1815 – d. February 13, 1882) was often categorized as a radical abolitionist minister because he discussed civil disobedience, including armed resistance. Born into the United States’ slavery system in 1815 Maryland, at the estate of Colonel William Spencer, by age 9, Garnet would escape with his father, a captured Mandingo chief. His father led the family through the Underground Railroad system from Maryland to Delaware, Pennsylvania and, finally, New York. This would mark just the beginning of Garnet’s many challenges to live free among the racially volatile Europeans of the Americas who were bent on maintaining Africans as a slave class.


This Address, by Henry Highland Garnet, was made before the National Convention of Colored Citizens on August 16, 1843 in Buffalo, New York

Brethren and Fellow-Citizens: Your brethren of the North, East, and West have been accustomed to meet together in National Conventions, to sympathize with each other, and to weep over your unhappy condition. In these meetings we have addressed all classes of the free, but we have never, until this time, sent a word of consolation and advice to you. We have been contented in sitting still and mourning over your sorrows, earnestly hoping that before this day your sacred liberties would have been restored. But, we have hoped in vain. Years have rolled on, and tens of thousands have been borne on streams of blood and tears, to the shores of eternity. While you have been oppressed, we have also been partakers with you; nor can we be free while you are enslaved. We, therefore, write to you as being bound with you.

Many of you are bound to us, not only by the ties of a common humanity, but we are connected by the more tender relations of parents, wives, husbands, children, brothers, and sisters, and friends. As such we most affectionately address you.

Slavery has fixed a deep gulf between you and us, and while it shuts out from you the relief and consolation which your friends would willingly render, it afflicts and persecutes you with a fierce- ness which we might not expect to see in the fiends of hell. But still the Almighty Father of mercies has left to us a glimmering ray of hope, which shines out like a lone star in a cloudy sky. Mankind are becoming wiser, and better—the oppressor’s power is fading, and you, every day, are becoming better informed, and more numerous. Your grievances, brethren, are many. We shall not attempt, in this short address, to present to the world all the dark catalogue of this nation’s sins, which have been committed upon an innocent people. Nor is it indeed necessary, for you feel them from day to day, and all the civilized world look upon them with amazement.

Two hundred and twenty-seven years ago, the first of our injured race were brought to the shores of America. They came not with glad spirits to select their homes in the New World. They came not with their own consent, to find an unmolested enjoyment of the blessings of this fruitful soil. The first dealings they had with men calling themselves Christians, exhibited to them the worst features of corrupt, and sordid hearts: and convinced them that no cruelty is too great, no villainy and no robbery too abhorrent for even enlightened men to perform, when influenced by avarice and lust. Neither did they come flying upon the wings of Liberty, to a land of freedom. But they came with broken hearts, from their beloved native land, and were doomed to unrequited toil and deep degradation. Nor did the evil of their bondage end at their emancipation by death. Succeeding generations inherited their chains, and millions have come from eternity into time, and have returned again to the world of spirits, cursed and ruined by American slavery.

The propagators of the system, or their immediate ancestors, very soon discovered its growing evil, and its tremendous wickedness, and secret promises were made to destroy it. The gross inconsistency of a people holding slaves, who had themselves “ferried o’er the wave” for freedom’s sake, was too apparent to be entirely over-looked. The voice of Freedom cried, “Emancipate your slaves.” Humanity supplicated with tears for the deliverance of the children of Africa. Wisdom urged her solemn plea. The bleeding captive pleaded his innocence, and pointed to Christianity who stood weeping at the cross. Jehovah frowned upon the nefarious institution, and thunderbolts, red with vengeance, struggled to leap forth to blast the guilty wretches who maintained it. But all was vain. Slavery had stretched its dark wings of death over the land, the Church stood silently by—the priests prophesied falsely, and the people loved to have it so. Its throne is established, and now it reigns triumphant.

Nearly three millions of your fellow-citizens are prohibited by law and public opinion (which in this country is stronger than law) from reading the Book of Life. Your intellect has been destroyed as much as possible, and every ray of light they have attempted to shut out from your minds. The oppressors themselves have become involved in the ruin. They have become weak, sensual, and rapacious—they have cursed you—they have cursed themselves—they have cursed the earth which they have trod.

The colonies threw the blame upon England. They said that the mother country entailed the evil upon them, and that they would rid themselves of it if they could. The world thought they were sincere, and the philanthropic pitied them. But time soon tested their sincerity. In a few years the colonists grew strong, and severed themselves from the British Government. Their independence was declared, and they took their station among the sovereign powers of the earth. The declaration was a glorious document. Sages admired it, and the patriotic of every nation reverenced the God-like sentiments which it contained. When the power of Government returned to their hands, did they emancipate the slaves? No; they rather added new links to our chains. Were they ignorant of the principles of Liberty? Certainly they were not. The sentiments of their revolutionary orators fell in burning eloquence upon their hearts, and with one voice they cried, Liberty or death. Oh what a sentence was that! It ran from soul to soul like electric fire, and nerved the arm of thousands to fight in the holy cause of Freedom. Among the diversity of opinions that are entertained in regard to physical resistance, there are but a few found to gainsay that stern declaration. We are among those who do not.

Slavery! How much misery is comprehended in that single word. What mind is there that does not shrink from its direful effects? Unless the image of God be obliterated from the soul, all men cherish the love of Liberty. The nice discerning political economist does not regard the sacred right more than the untutored African who roams in the wilds of Congo. Nor has the one more right to the full enjoyment of his freedom than the other. In every man’s mind the good seeds of liberty are planted, and he who brings his fellow down so low, as to make him contented with a condition of slavery, commits the highest crime against God and man. Brethren, your oppressors aim to do this. They endeavor to make you as much like brutes as possible. When they have blinded the eyes of your mind when they have embittered the sweet waters of life—when they have shut out the light which shines from the word of God—then, and not till then, has American slavery done its perfect work.

To such degradation it is sinful in the Extreme for you to make voluntary submission. The divine commandments you are in duty bound to reverence and obey. If you do not obey them, you will surely meet with the displeasure of the Almighty. He requires you to love him supremely, and your neighbor as yourself—to keep the Sabbath day holy—to search the Scriptures—and bring up your children with respect for his laws, and to worship no other God but him. But slavery sets all these at nought, and hurls defiance in the face of Jehovah. The forlorn condition in which you are placed, does not destroy your moral obligation to God. You are not certain of heaven, because you suffer yourselves to remain in a state of slavery, where you cannot obey the commandments of the Sovereign of the universe. If the ignorance of slavery is a passport to heaven, then it is a blessing, and no curse, and you should rather desire its perpetuity than its abolition. God will not receive slavery, nor ignorance, nor any other state of mind, for love and obedience to him. Your condition does not absolve you from your moral obligation. The diabolical injustice by which your liberties are cloven down,neither God; nor angels, or just men, command you to suffer for a single moment. Therefore it is your solemn and imperative duty to use every means, both moral; intellectual and physical that promises success. If a band of heathen men should attempt to enslave a race of Christians, and to place their children under the influence of some false religion, surely, Heaven would frown upon the men who would not resist such aggression, even to death. If, on the other hand, a band of Christians should attempt to enslave a race of heathen men, and to entail slavery upon them, and to keep them in heathenism in the midst of Christianity, the God of heaven would smile upon every effort which the injured might make to dis-enthrall themselves.

Brethren, it is as wrong for your lordly oppressors to keep you in slavery, as it was for the man thief to steal our ancestors from the coast of Africa. You should therefore now use the same manner of resistance, as would have been just in our ancestors, when the bloody footprints of the first remorseless soul-thief was placed upon the shores of our fatherland. The humblest peasant is as free in the sight of God as the proudest monarch that ever swayed a sceptre. Liberty is a spirit sent out from God, and like its great Author, is no respecter of persons.

Brethren, the time has come when you must act for yourselves. It is an old and true saying that, “if hereditary bondmen would be free, they must themselves strike the blow.” You can plead your own cause, and do the work of emancipation better than any others. The nations of the old world are moving in the great cause of universal freedom, and some of them at least will, ere long, do you justice. The combined powers of Europe have placed their broad seal of disapprobation upon the African slave-trade. But in the slave-holding parts of the United States, the trade is as brisk as ever. They buy and sell you as though you were brute beasts. The North has done much—her opinion of slavery in the abstract is known. But in regard to the South, we adopt the opinion of the New York Evangelist —“We have advanced so far, that the cause apparently waits for a more effectual door to be thrown open than has been yet.” We are about to point you to that more effectual door. Look around you, and behold the bosoms of your loving wives heaving with untold agonies! Hear the cries of your poor children! Remember the stripes your fathers bore. Think of the torture and disgrace of your noble mothers. Think of your wretched sisters, loving virtue and purity, as they are driven into concubinage and are exposed to the unbridled lusts of incarnate devils. Think of the undying glory that hangs around the ancient name of Africa—and forget not that you are native-born American citizens, and as such, you are justly entitled to all the rights that are granted to the freest. Think how many tears you have poured out. upon the soil which you have cultivated with unrequited toil and enriched with your blood; and then go to your lordly enslavers and tell them plainly, that you are determined to be free. Appeal to their sense of justice, and tell them that they have no more right to oppress you, than you have to enslave them. Entreat them to remove the grievous burdens which they have imposed upon you, and to remunerate you for your labor. Promise them renewed diligence in the cultivation of the soil, if they will render to you an equivalent for your services. Point them to the increase of happiness and prosperity in the British West Indies since the Act of Emancipation.

Tell them in language which they cannot misunderstand, of the exceeding sinfulness of slavery, and of a future judgment, and of the righteous retributions of an indignant God. Inform them that all you desire is freedom, and that nothing else will suffice. Do this, and for ever after cease to toil for the heartless tyrants, who give you no other reward but stripes and abuse. If they then commence the work of death, they, and not you, will be responsible for the consequences. You had far better all die—die immediately, than live slaves, and entail your wretchedness upon your posterity. If you would be free in this generation, here is your only hope. However much you and all of us may desire it, there is not much hope of redemption without the shedding of blood. If you must bleed, let it all come at once—ratherdie freemen, than live to be the slaves. It is impossible, like the children of Israel, to make a grand exodus from the land of bondage. The Pharaohs are on both sides of the blood-red waters! You cannot move en masse, to the dominions of the British Queen—nor can you pass through Florida and overrun Texas, and at last find peace in Mexico. The propagators of American slavery are spending their blood and treasure, that they may plant the black flag in the heart of Mexico and riot in the halls of the Montezumas. In the language of the Rev. Robert Hall, when addressing the volunteers of Bristol, who were rushing forth to repel the invasion of Napoleon, who threatened to lay waste the fair homes of England, “Religion is too much interested in your behalf, not to shed over you her most gracious influences.”

You will not be compelled to spend much time in order to become inured to hardships. From the first moment that you breathed the air of heaven, you have been accustomed to nothing else but hardships. The heroes of the American Revolution were never put upon harder fare than a peck of corn and a few herrings per week. You have not become enervated by the luxuries of life. Your sternest energies have been beaten out upon. the anvil of severe trial, Slavery has done this, to make you subservient to its own purposes; but it has done more than this, it has prepared you for any emergency. If you receive good treatment, it is what you could hardly expect; if you meet with pain, sorrow, and even death, these are the common lot of the slaves. Fellow-men! patient sufferers! behold your dearest rights crushed to the earth! See your sons murdered, and your wives, mothers and sisters doomed to prostitution. In the name of the merciful God, and by all that life is worth, let it no longer be a debatable question, whether it is better to choose Liberty or death. In 1822, Denmark Vesey, of South Carolina, formed a plan for the liberation of his fellow-men. In the whole history of human efforts to overthrow slavery, a more complicated and tremendous plan was never formed. He was betrayed by the treachery of his own people, and died a martyr to freedom. Many a brave hero fell, but history, faithful to her high trust, will transcribe his name on the same monument with Moses, Hampden, Tell, Bruce and Wallace, Toussaint L’Ouverture, Lafayette and Washington. That tremendous movement shook the whole empire of slavery. The guilty soul-thieves were overwhelmed with fear. It is a matter of fact, that at that time, and in consequence of the threatened revolution, the slave States talked strongly of emancipation. But they blew but one blast of the trumpet of freedom, and then laid it aside. As these men became quiet, the slaveholders ceased to talk about emancipation: and now behold your condition today! Angels sigh over it, and humanity has long since exhausted her tears in weeping on your account! The patriotic Nathaniel Turner followed Denmark Vesey. He was goaded to desperation by wrong and injustice. By despotism, his name has been recorded on the list of infamy; and future generations will remember him among the noble and brave. Next arose the immortal Joseph Cinque, the hero of the Amistad. He was a native African, and by the help of God he emancipated a whole ship-load of his fellow-men on the high seas. And he now sings of liberty on the sunny hills of Africa and beneath his native palm-trees, where he hears the lion roar and feels himself as free as that king of the forest.

Next arose Madison Washington, that bright star of freedom, and took his station in the constellation of true heroism. He was a slave on board the brig Creole, of Richmond, bound to New Orleans, that great slave mart, with a hundred and four others. Nineteen struck for liberty or death. But one life was taken, and the whole were emancipated, and the vessel was carried into Nassau, New Providence. Noble men! Those who have fallen in freedom’s conflict, their memories will be cherished by the true-hearted and the God-fearing in all future generations; those who are living, their names are surrounded by a halo of glory. Brethren, arise, arise! Strike for your lives and liberties. Now is the day and the hour. Let every slave throughout the land do this, and the days of slavery are numbered. You cannot be more oppressed than you have been—you cannot suffer greater cruelties than you have already. Rather die freemen than live to be slaves. Remember that you are four millions! It is in your power so to torment the God-cursed slaveholders, that they will be glad to let you go free. If the scale was turned, and black men were the masters and white men the slaves, every destructive agent and element would be employed to lay the oppressor low. Danger and death would hang over their heads day and night. Yes, the tyrants would meet with plagues more terrible than those of Pharaoh. But you are a patient people. You act as though you were made for the special use of these devils. You act as though your daughters were born to pamper the lusts of your masters and overseers. And worse than all, you tamely submit while your lords tear your wives from your embraces and defile them before your eyes. In the name of God, we ask, are you men? Where is the blood of your fathers? Has it all run out of your veins? Awake, awake, millions of voices are calling you! Your dead fathers speak to you from their graves. Heaven, as with a voice of thunder, calls on you to arise from the dust. Let your motto be resistance! resistance! resistance! No oppressed people have ever secured their liberty without resistance. What kind of resistance you had better make, you must decide by the circumstances that surround you, and according to the suggestion of expediency. Brethren, adieu! Trust in the living God. Labor for the peace of the human race, and remember that you are four millions.
Published in Henry Highland Garnet, Walker’s Appeal, with a Brief Sketch of His Life. See also Garnet’s Address to the Slaves of the United States of America. New-York, Printed by J. H. Tobitt, 1848, pages 89–97.