My name isn’t Jabari. It’s Parker. And Ahbleza. And Lorenza. And Sonny. And Andrae. And Hashim. These are some of my closest friends, and in many ways, we are all one in the same.
I don’t mean that in a loving “we’re all united” way, I mean that I’ve been called all of their names and they mine on more than one occasion. Why? Because we look alike. Yep. My friend who is three shades lighter than me and has braids that reach his shoulders looks just like me. My brother who weighs 100 pounds fewer than me and who couldn’t grow a beard to save his life, is my identical twin! I’ve had so many non-black friends, teachers, and colleagues call me the other black guy’s name that I’ve lost count. Instead of getting angry, I most feign utter disgust and ask whoever has made the mistake if all black people look alike. The guilt and shame on their faces makes up for any hurt feelings. But in all seriousness, do we all look alike? If not, then someone needs to inform about 90% of all comic book artists.
A black superhero seems to have only a few default looks:
The Sam Jackson: Bald with a Goatee
Perfected by Marvel’s Luke Cage, the Sam Jackson is the style for the brotha that don’t take no m*****f*****g mess! This look shouts street cred, and gives the wearer a sense of ruggedness.
The Paul Robeson: Mid/Close Cut
Otherwise known as the regular, the Paul Robeson is the look for a more educated black man. Regal and distinguished, this is the style for the book-learnin’ brotha. Hey, if it’s good enough for the King of Wakanda, and the Third Smartest Man in the World, then it’s good enough for you!
The Locks give any black superhero the third, and longer, option. This look says “I’m young, I’m hip and, just like my white counterpart, I can put my hair in a ponytail.”
Almost every black superhero has gone through one of these phases; some have even gone through all three. I’m not asking for black superheroes to be given blonde hair or anything, I’m just asking for a greater degree of variety. Can we at least get a Jerry Curl?