And where are the black superheroes?

The discussions about representation culture of black people, particularly with reference to visual media, generally revolves around the focus on its negative character. Such a story representation It would amount to a very effective illustration of racism in action, from oppression, through exoticization and marginalization, to invisibility.

Communication psychologists and academics have long asserted that there is a relationship between the socialization of children and adolescents with media exposure, particularly television, and child and youth development (Brown and Witherspoon 2002; Hall and Smith 2012; Tynes and Ward 2009).

Researchers have argued that repeated exposure to television shows featuring characters blacks stereotypes leads to negative perceptions of black people by others (Berry 2000; Brown and Witherspoon 2002; Gorham 1999), and that these race-based archetypes (Adams and Stevenson 2012) can have a negative impact on psychosocial development of children and young people blacks also (Berry 2000; Gorham 1999; Martin 2008).


Socialization in the media is a critical factor that impacts how young people acquire static or stereotyped representations of themselves and others. The process is defined as exposure to mass communication messages such as television, radio, internet and newspapers; messages that teach people socially accepted behaviors. These outputs have a direct influence on cognitive ability and behavioral functioning and an indirect mediating or facilitating influence on learning (Adams and Stevenson 2012).

The representation it doesn’t have to be revolutionary to be important or necessary. Things can be as simple as they are. For many, representation means that we would not have grown up hating the color of our skin or had problems with our sexuality. Just because it doesn’t solve all problems doesn’t mean it doesn’t solve some.

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A great example of the role of representation in the media they are the superheroes. Racial diversity in American comics has been steadily increasing since its beginnings in the 1930s (Brown, 2001; Wright, 2001). However, the superheroes blacks they still tend to be tokenized, often given names like “Black Panther” and “Black Lightning” (Singer, 2002).

Comic book writer Dwayne McDuffie comments on race in comics: “If you do [un] black character or a female character or an Asian character, so they’re not just that character. They represent that race or that gender, and they can’t be interesting because everything they do has to represent a whole block of people” (McDuffie, 2009). Beyond character tokenization blacks, characters of color are grossly underrepresented in comics (Brown, 2001; Cunningham, 2010).

When we talk about children and representation, your understanding is more important than ours. How they are affected by it is more important than how it affects us, because they are the target of new forms of consumption.

The fact that we live in a world system plagued by racist and supremacist aesthetics is undeniable. Its effects on our relationship with ourselves are also undeniable. We can say that participating in acts of representation it is a form of assimilation, but the reality is that anything we do while living in the system can be co-opted by it, without exception. We can agree that there is no way to destroy the system while using its tools, and that includes the ways we criticize it, and following that logic, even criticism can function as assimilation.

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An important topic of this ongoing conversation is the tokenization of bodies blacks in the search for “diversity”. Children deserve more than that. We deserve more than that. We deserve to be seen as main characters, beautiful and flawed, as human beings, because that medium is a translation, the images that the world wants to communicate. And if we see that the children blacks they’re portrayed as happy and accepted in a movie, there’s a good chance that a black kid somewhere will sail through the world with a healthier image of himself, and that’s what I want for all kids.

Lee: “My body is literature. There are stories within all its layers”

In conclusion, we can agree that the policies of representation are the result of capitalism and racism, and also accept that we need a representation healthy and that being represented in the media is important, it affects us psychologically and socially.

Jennifer Rubio, better known as Ciguapa, is a Dominican educator and writer. She spreads about anti-racism and feminism through social networks and has worked as a music teacher in Dominican Republic. Regional director for North America and the Caribbean for Afro-females.

Twitter: @soyciguapa

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