One cannot discuss black excellence (specifically in speculative fiction) without discussing one of the most gifted and progressive storytellers, ever to walk this earth, the late Dwayne McDuffie.
As expected, many discussed the amazing work he and his team did with making Milestone Comics a success, others mentioned his phenomenal work with fellow phenom Bruce Timm creating over a decade of superb animated series and films.
Of course people pointed out that McDuffie paved the way for black storytellers in a way too vanilla-centric medium that is the comic book industry.
While this is all true. It is not the whole story. To not tell the whole story diminishes the work and the accomplishments of this great man.
This bothers me because when it comes to PoCs who campaign for equal rights, we often get shortchanged. At most, we’re credited for “helping end racism.” We’re rarely (if ever) credited for getting intersectionality. For instance, the late Coretta Scott King is rarely credited for being an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights. Her husband Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. tackled racism and classism, and unlike most whites didn’t try to conflate that latter to negate the former.
Dr. Huey Newton, the founder of the Black Panthers, wrote a letter encouraging us all to not only embrace feminism and our LGBTQ siblings but to do some serious internal soul-searching and tackle our internalized misogyny and homophobia. Intersectionality is something Truth literally spoke on. Truth by way of Sojourner when she asked, Ain’t I A Woman? You see most PoCs aren’t fighting to reattain privilege and get a seat at the oppressor’s table like we see too often with privileged white fauxial justice fauxgressives. We are actually fighting for equality, not out of self interest but because it is the right thing to do.
Long before social justice became the hobby of spoiled entitled white people on Tumblr, McDuffie — and for that matter Timm — and the rest of the Milestone crew were in the trenches, fighting for diversity for everyone.
Yes Milestone introduced the world to some amazing black superheroes but Milestone also introduced the world to some other amazing superheroes of color such as Blitzen and Iron Butterfly. Not only that but McDuffie gave the world gay and trans protagonists such as Gear and Marissa Rahm, respectively.
Milestone brilliantly flipped the superhero sidekick paradigm in allowing a young woman to inspire one of the world’s greatest superheroes. For you see there would have been no Icon, if it hadn’t been for Rocket.
This incredible, beautiful, brilliant brother did all of this because he believed that everyone deserved a hero or heroine.
And to think this gifted soul got fired from DC, who later in turn hired and embraced Orson Scott Card with open arms, it’s almost too much to stomach.
Nevertheless, many of us continue to fight on in his honor.
In any event, McDuffie’s legacy can never be denied, any of it. And for all of the work he’s done, all I can simply say is “Thank you” and “God bless” and “rest in power.”