My fellow creators and peers, especially those of color, working and hustling hard to present our stories to the world... can we please stop the beef?
Since writing and interviewing and meeting various creators over the years, from even way before doing The Griotvine and writing Is'nana, I've gained knowledge of quite some stories about other creators and tension between many of them. Some have hit the internet and fans are aware of some, a lot aren't online to the public eye but are known among a select few people in the field. This article isn't about revealing any of them or pointing fingers, but this is a piece asking of something from my fellow comic creators, ESPECIALLY my peers of color.
The Brother © Jay Kelley, Olmec © Jay Kelley & Henry Wilson, Myth Smith & Olmech © Gerald D. Boney. Art by Henry Wilson
Now the past month have presented us a country divided, separating us as a nation as we debated about who will run our country. The election saw Trump as the victor, winning the Presidency, polarizing the nation even further. Growing up, I have never been one for politics, but this year I found myself getting more and more into arguments online concerning the then upcoming election and even more so following the results of the election. I lost faith in some friends, and my relationship with them... is in pending mode.
In the end, whatever side you're on, you cannot be oblivious to the fact that people are hurting due to this election and people are scared. This election has made MORE racism come out of the shadows while hate crimes have risen. White supremacy is getting more and more news coverage since the election while people of color and of the LGBTQ are being attacked and becoming victims of vandalism and discrimination. I've read moments online of personal friends, online friends, and people I don't interact with aside from a post on my social media timeline talk of situations of discrimination and attacks they or close friends have dealt with, all in the name of this election. People are scared.
This is where I start to cut into the meat of this article here...
Once again, I am asking my fellow creators, especially those of color, working and hustling hard to present our stories to the world... can we please stop the beef? Can we come together to overcome past grievances? Come together to inspire and motivate? Come together to show togetherness in a community?
Jiya of Galtow ©Robert Garrett, Laserface © Jerome Benton, Sauda of Brotherhood of the Fringe © N Steven Harris. Art by N Steven Harris
More than ever, people are losing their faith and it pains me to see readers on my page, people of color and of the LGBTQ, posting what's going on with them personally in the world. The very least we as creators, writers and artists, publishers... the very least we can do is drop the vitriol against each other and use our swords to help said readers with our talents and skills instead of being at each others' throats. Now, I'm not naive. Every workplace, every field has people with all types of different personalities. People will always butt heads. We are all from different backgrounds and upbringing. Hell, not even a year into releasing Is'nana, I found myself at odds with another creator of color and our own sort of beef because of different ideals and beliefs. But what pains me to watch is when I see other creators of color going at it online, in public for many people to see. We, as geeks of color, already have a hard time in an art medium that frowns on us because we want better representation. We are also looked down on for creating work that appeals to readers who feel unwanted and marginalized and we as creators of color have SOOO much against us. Our work and stories are seen as inferior despite many amazing quality works, acclaim and awards we receive, even when we are writing for Marvel and DC. So why, when some of us are in the public eye, why give even more reason to have folks look down on us? You would think I, as a comic journalist, would love this drama and write about what I've heard the past few years, but instead I've grown disappointed, especially when a lot of creators, those peers, have become my friends and even worse when it's people I'm friends with that have tension and beef with each other.
Wildfire© Quinn McGowan, Hotshot © Michael Watson. Art by Quinn McGowan
Earlier this year I wrote about this current year being the era of the Black Indie Comic Renaissance. I truly do feel we are still in that era, even when next year comes - next month in fact - with a new President that many feel will affect our product and stories. While I'm hearing from peers of that this electoral decision may affect their work, I say more than ever we need to persevere and use our talents to inspire and give people hope. We were given this gift; we've trained ourselves to have this gift, no matter what you believe. But we have a gift and now it's time to prove our worth. Artists who have yet to officially publish their work but dream to: this is also your time. Most of us got into comics and characters that fight for a better world... so let's try to have a better world starting with our own circle and then go beyond.
Maybe I'm asking too much, and yes, while it is going to be damn near impossible to not get into conflict with other people, some conflict having gone back YEARS before I even started writing my columns... I just ask to let's use this time to sit back and take in what's going on... Is the beefing with each other really worth it in the long run? With so much already stacked up against us, we're in this together...
Maybe I am asking too much... but I refuse to believe we can't be better in this desperate time of chaos.
Stealth © William Satterwhite, Dreadlock © Andre Batts. Art by Jamar Logan