'Black Superhero Week' continues with screening of 'Black Masculinities in Comics'

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Not enough superheroes are black and the ones that are black are often depicted problematically. That was the topic of discussion tonight in Iowa City.

The Afro-American Cultural Center says black males are often stereotyped, even when they're supposed to be the "good guys."
They screened a documentary "Black Masculinities in Comic Books" that is meant to shed light on prevalent issues it says are still a problem today.

"All these stereotypes that are attributed to black males in society made their ways to various forms of popular culture and comics were no different," said UI Professor Deborah Whaley.

But Whaley says some superheroes, like Black Panther, are now paving the way for people to "rethink blackness."

"We have this character who is this African male, who is a superhero and not just known for his powers but also known for his intellectual capabilities as well," said Whaley.

"I was a fan of Spiderman growing up but I always wanted to have something that was representative of me. At the time, it was Blade but I've always been a Black Panther fan," said Afro-American Cultural Center Coordinator Jamal Nelson. "Right now, being able to go in Friday and say I finally get to see this thing is dope! I'm excited."

Nelson says he's excited the next generation.

"The young ones who may not have had that representation growing up they can finally look to Black Panther and say "That's me. That's somebody that looks like me," said Nelson.

The Cultural Center is dedicating part of this week to this kind of education.

Black Superhero Week continues tomorrow night at 6:30 with "Black Women in Comics."

Black Panther comes out nationwide this Friday.