Kevin O’Keeffe relays the big news out of the comic book world:
Continuing the trend of diversifying their lineup of heroes, Marvel announced on last [week's] episode of The Colbert Report that the next Captain America will be Sam Wilson – currently known as The Falcon. … It’s the second big change for Marvel’s Avengers this week. On Tuesday, the women of The View announced that the next Thor would be a woman. Like with Thor, the new Captain America isn’t an off-shoot series – this is the primary Captain America, and the first black Captain America to officially hold the title.
Freddie sighs at those he believes are confusing symbolic firsts for real progress:
The glee with which these changes have been met, contrasted with the bleak state of structural change and economic justice, will tell you pretty much all you need to know about a certain strain of contemporary American liberalism. We’re mere weeks away from a Supreme Court decision where an alliance of religious crazies and corporatists was able to remove a legal provision requiring employers to pay for emergency contraception, but don’t worry, ladies! You too can now be portrayed as a heavily-sanitized version of a minor god from a long-dead pantheon. Black Americans continue to lag national averages in a vast number of metrics that depict quality of life, and in some of them have actually lost ground, but never fear. The guy portrayed punching people while wearing red white and blue spandex will now be black.
Lighten up, Freddie. Progress comes in all forms, big and small. And it’s often the small cultural changes, added together, that have the most lasting impact. Ta-Nehisi put it best, in a post written four years ago, reacting to the news that Captain America was headed to the big screen:
One thing that makes me sad–I wish they’d been ballsy and made Captain America black. … The subtle power of a black Captain America–in the age of a black president–really could be awesome.
So far, the Hollywood version of Captain America hasn’t made the same move as Marvel, but here’s hoping. Meanwhile, Danny Fingeroth explains the business logic behind these sort of decisions: