Thursday, January 11, 2018

Black by Kwanza Osajyefo

First, thank you to Net Galley and Diamond Publishing for offering this title for a short time so that I could read it. This series is on several best of lists for graphic novels 2017, including Forbes Magazine as an honorable mention. I also read that the authors have a movie deal.

The premise for this book started with Kwanza Osajyefo's simple wondering:
What if only Black people had superpowers?
That is exactly what this series is about. It is about a bunch of boys that are stopped by police. They all get shot but one of them does not die. He is brought into a secret society where he learns that he has quarks that give him superpowers. Not only that, but only Black people, throughout history have these superpower.

I'm in! It is such a refreshing new take. Granted I am not the typical audience for these graphic novels. I am a Pacific Islander. I am a female, old, highly educated, mother, grandmother of boys. I am not the typical consumer.

Still, I spent my career as an English teacher refusing to teach out of textbooks. I begrudgingly taught the dead white male curriculum to non-white students only after bringing in females, minorities, Hawaiians, brown, yellow, red, black writers as a baseline for discussion.  As a middle school teacher, I made it my mission to find books that my boys would enjoy. This is it.

These superheroes cannot walk away and be anonymously rich and handsome Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Oliver Queen. These superheroes continue to live lives of violent desperation. They continue to be seen as thugs, hoodlums, criminals. Now we are finally meshing entertainment with social justice and social commentary still packaged in a readable format. This is what I have been looking for.

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