#DiversifyAgentCarter Reminds Us That “Because History” Isn’t a Reason to Whitewash a Show
People of color have always been around, yo. We're not new.
— Red Wedge Magazine (@RedWedgeMag) May 8, 2015
We were thrilled when we heard that ABC’s Agent Carter had been renewed for a second season! But even the best shows aren’t immune to criticism, and there is one area in which Agent Carter could use some improvement. There are zero characters of color on that show. Actually, there’s a strong case to be made for Howard Stark being a coded Jewish character, and if that’s actually being done on purpose…OK, there’s one minority character. Yay? But the point is, the show is very, very white. And so, thanks to the efforts of Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia), #DiversifyAgentCarter was born.
#DiversifyAgentCarter is a call to ABC and Marvel, not for anything special, but simply to reflect the world as it really was, and people are doing so by posting photos of people of color from the 1930s and 40s from all walks of life and in various forms of employment.
— Saladin Ahmed (@saladinahmed) May 9, 2015
You see, Agent Carter fans don’t only want Peggy back. They see this as an opportunity. The show has always been about a member of an oppressed group asserting herself, and in the time during which the show is set, there were plenty of people doing that. There were people of color in all sorts of workplaces doing all sorts of things. Was there racism? Of course! But hell, there’s racism now. That doesn’t mean that people of color don’t exist. They exist now, and they existed then.
People of color didn’t just sprout fully formed in the past few years – they’ve lived, and worked, and fought, and died throughout history, and they deserve respectful representation as much as POCs today deserve representation in TV programming set in modern times. Check out some highlights from the #DiversifyAgentCarter conversation! There are people like the folks above who’ve been posting photos of real people of color serving during WWII, or living and working in NYC. Lots of people posted old photos of family members:
Then, there are people making the point that this is simply a call for historical accuracy:
Look at census data and govt hiring data for NYC in ’40s-’50s. Ahistorical whiteness means if they #DiversifyAgentCarter it’s REALISM.
— Kristen Mc Hugh (@kristenmchugh22) May 8, 2015
#DiversifyAgentCarter Roosevelt’s executive order 8802 integrated federal jobs in June 1941. No more “historical accuracy” excuses.
— Wacky Historian (@wackyhistorian) May 8, 2015
Others see it as a matter of respect for the people who came before us:
— Jess Nevins (@jessnevins) May 8, 2015
Lastly, there are those who just desperately want to see themselves on television. Who are both women and of color and want to see all of their nuance reflected in the shows they watch:
— Flaming Pint Trota (@GeekMelange) May 8, 2015
By the way, this is my great aunt Ana Jusino. She (like me, duh!) is Puerto Rican, currently in her 90s, and back in the day, she served in the US Air Force:
Titi Ana, as I’ve always called her, served in World War II, the Korean War, and in Vietnam. She was also awarded the Silver Star, The Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart and retired with the rank of Sgt. Major. She and Peggy Carter could’ve totally hung out and been friends. You know, if Peggy were real.
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