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Gene Luen Yang’s Epic Speech on Dwayne McDuffie, Black Panther, and Diversity in Comics

Required reading.

This Saturday, Boxers and Saints author Gene Luen Yang gave a speech on diversity at the National Book Festival Gala that honestly and intelligently addressed the comic community’s failures towards minorities. It’s a must-read (or listen). If, like me, you’re more of a visual learner, here are just some of the author’s thoughts on representation in the Internet age:

We in the book community are in the middle of a sustained conversation about diversity. We talk about our need for diverse books with diverse characters written by diverse writers. I wholeheartedly agree.

But I have noticed an undercurrent of fear in many of our discussions. We’re afraid of writing characters different from ourselves because we’re afraid of getting it wrong. We’re afraid of what the Internet might say.

This fear can be a good thing if it drives us to do our homework, to be meticulous in our cultural research. But this fear crosses the line when we become so intimidated that we quietly make choices against stepping out of our own identities

And let’s say you do your best. You put in all the effort you can. But then when your book comes out, the Internet gets angry. You slowly realize that, for once, the Internet might be right. You made a cultural misstep. If this happens, take comfort in the fact that even flawed characters can inspire. Apologize if necessary, resolve to do better, and move on.

Of course, those “missteps” could become less frequent if more minorities are actually given the opportunities they deserve as creators in the comic community. You can read the transcript of the entire speech here. It’s important.

(via DC Women Kicking Ass)

Previously in representation in comics

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