We’re sure that some of you are wondering, what exactly is “The Black Hero Challenge”. First of all, no we aren’t asking you to go out on the street and fight crime like the brother up in Seattle(shout out to Phoenix Jones).The Black Hero Challenge is a task charged to attending members of a 2011 New Years’ gathering, and is turning into quite an arduous project for some of the attendees. The “Challenge”, issued by Cailloux Williams, author of the Fantasy-Adventure series Ancients & Immortals, was: 1. To name a Black superhero, created by a black artist/author. 2. To name describe said black superhero to the group, without making references to a popular or similar white superhero.
Needless to say, none of the attendees could accomplish the task, and although Cailloux did offer to extend the challenge until the end of the month, his point was quite impactful. “All too often, Black heroes/heroines, created by Black artists, are merely a colored knock off of a white character by design, or later become one by default. If you take the time and energy to create a unique character, the last thing you should EVER do, is use parallels to a popular or pre-existing character, even if the intent is simply to make the character more easily understood or received. The same popular reference that you use, to aid in the character’s reception, will devour and replace said new character in the mind of the person receiving the reference. In essence, what you are doing is giving the viewer/receiver, the perfect reason to disregard your character.”
We agree with Cailloux, and issue the challenge to you, the Imajen public. Name a Black hero or heroine, created by a Black artist(or writer), and then describe him/her without using any references to popular white characters. It is a great exercise, and an excellent perspective-shifting activity.
The New Years’ conversation did not end with this topic. Our next articles will address some of the other initersting perspectives, including the “great opportunity on the horizon” for black heroes. Stay tuned, here and otherwise…2011 is going to be a very interesting and impactful year.