“But what about black-on-black crime?”
The question has taken on an insidious quality these last few years, often an intellectually dishonest response to criticisms of police brutality. Google searches for black-on-black crime stats even spike whenever people are tweeting about the latest miscarriage of justice! The first set images make it pretty clear that Luke Cage will deal with police violence in some capacity, though it won’t be the series’ only focus when it comes to issues facing black America. The “black-on-black crime” question will be very much on its mind, and seemingly for the right reasons.
We already know Cage is going to find himself at the mercy of corrupt law enforcement, but some of the show’s early episodes will also pit him against intra-community violence. If the show goes smoothly, which I’ve been led to believe it will, Luke Cage is going to take a fairly well-rounded look at some of these problems, and will even bring up their systemic roots along the way. We’re going to get to see this sort of crime occurring in poorer neighborhoods, some of them in Bronx, so whether or not there’s a thorough top-down examination from episode to episode, these issues aren’t going to be tossed in at random in order to have the appearance of a balance. In short, none of it sounds like it exists to appease non-black political critics.
Interestingly, the show is also going to talk about differing views on the ‘n word’ within the black community. Its use is sometimes brought up by white folks who think it ought to be stricken from language altogether (“If I can’t use it, why can they?”), and while it’s most certainly not for non-black people to debate on, it’s another complicated intra-community issue that’ll come up, at least indirectly, with the specific point of attack being reclamation of the word versus the violence and anger behind it. Not only that, it’ll even address the kind of racism that occurs within the black community, so it’s safe to say that there’s a lot going on!
Maybe all the Devil’s advocates will get to see what it looks like when people actually address these things instead of bringing them up to deflect from police brutality. Being impervious to violence allows a character like Luke Cage to be at the very center of it from all sides, and it sounds like Marvel is going to try and populate this world with people and stories that reflect the kind of realities we don’t often get to see in the mainstream. I guess that’s one good side effect of letting people tell their own stories.