There was a time when good black characters in Marvel Comics were hard to find. It wasn't that there weren't black characters, but that they were only a select few that were worth keeping up with. T'Challa and Storm not only started out as interesting characters, but have continued to grow as time has gone by.
#Marvel is a world of fantasy, but there are still aspects of characters that kids can and should look up to as role models. Steve Rogers, for example, wasn't a patriot for just Americans, but for everyone who has been the little guy and has been bullied. But Steve Rogers didn't look like me. So, where are the regular, everyday characters that I could admire?
Fortunately, #LukeCage has recently entered the Marvel scene in a big way.
It may be too late for me, but Luke Cage is a character that black kids like me could look at and talk about in a positive light. There are three major things I think we can learn from Luke Cage that can help not only kids, but maybe even adults in in life.
3. Community First: Luke Cage's Moral Compass
Luke Cage's focus has always been community first. The streets that he grew up on had to remain a safe place for people to not only live in, but raise a family. So, Luke would always come back to Harlem and remind people that he would always be back to keep his home devoid of drugs and senseless gang violence. Every so often, a knucklehead would come around with super powers (like Tombstone) and try to set up shop, but Luke would go out and shut that down immediately.
Luke was doing things that a lot of us growing up in bad neighborhoods want to do. Stand up to the drug dealers, crooked cops, and thugs and say, "This is my home and you can't do that here." Even though we don't have bulletproof skin and super strength, just surviving and never giving into negativity is a win. Showing the new generation that there is an alternative route can really make a difference, and those that do so are the true heroes in our communities.
2. Luke Cage And Danny Rand: A Perfect Example Of Friendship Where Race Doesn't Matter
Luke's best friend is Danny Rand, the Iron Fist — a guy whose upbringing and personality are the exact opposite of Luke Cage. On paper, these two would never be paired together. Danny was born wealthy but spent most of his life being raised in a mystical land learning Kung-Fu. Luke grew up poor and learned how to fight on the streets. Danny is a bit of a goofball and can be very naive, while Luke tends to be a little more adult about things. Despite their differences, the two are more like brothers than friends. So much so that Luke and Jessica named their daughter Danielle after Danny.
Why is their friendship something to look up to?
As far as we feel like we have come, we as a people have a long way to go. Racism is still alive and (unfortunately) prevalent all over the world. But, like Luke and Danny, race shouldn't matter when it comes to friendship. We miss opportunities when won't hang out with someone because of their race. Where would we be in this country if we didn't break bread with each other? Imagine the vast amounts of foods, inventions and wonders of the world we'd never see if we didn't go out and meet new people who are unlike ourselves. Luke and Danny are a perfect example of friendship and what we should all strive to be. Open to new things.
1. Cage's Social Values: Family And Togetherness Is Key
Luke and Jessica Jones came together by a series of unfortunate events. Regardless of how they came together, they are a loving duo and remain one of my favorite comic book couples. They argue, they disagree, but they always find a way to get back together in the end. Jessica has made Luke face some tough decisions about what was right for him and his family, and Luke has done the same with Jessica. Jessica stayed by Luke when he brought back Heroes for Hire, and Luke left the Avengers when he realized that not even the world was worth losing his family over. They understand that nothing is more important than family. It may take time, but they always get it back together.
In the black community we have a stereotype that families don't stand together and, unfortunately, there is a little bit of truth to that. There are a lot of children that are raised in single-parent homes. In general, marriages don't last because people are not willing to put in the work to make the relationship work. The funny thing is, after you put in the work to make the relationship work, the rewards are endless. There are going to be some times when things don't seem like they are going to get better, but love is always worth fighting for.
Who is your Marvel role model and why? Let me know in the comments below.