Luke Cage: Flipping The Script On Racial Politics

Luke Cage: Flipping The Script On Racial Politics

Positive representations can be a powerful thing.
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Last night I finished the last episode of "Luke Cage" on Netflix, and I must say, it was a fantastic show. I loved the theme song, the intro, the characters, and particularly the role selection. The power dynamic between the characters was very interesting, but for this article I will be focusing on the representations of race, gender, and power.

Upon my first impression of the show, I was very intrigued with the representations of race. The entire first part is about Carl Lucas coming to be in the Seagate prison, where he is reborn into Luke Cage. In stark contrast to the daily realities of millions of incarcerated black persons in America, Luke Cage comes out as a new man who is basically like the Harlem Superman. In light of all of the recent police shootings, this show is quite an act of social commentary by Marvel. Every major character in Luke Cage is a person of color, and those who are in power in the police force are women of color. This is in stark contrast with the majority of television shows, which show predominantly white narratives.

Allusions to social justice movements like Black Lives Matter become apparent in "Luke Cage" through the use of constitutive rhetoric, which describes the capacity for symbols to create a collective identity for the audience, especially by means of symbols, literature, and narratives. In the case of "Luke Cage", the symbols are woven throughout the narrative structure. Like I said before, our hero starts in a prison where he is reborn into a superhero. This is a significant shift in the way in which people describe prisons. "Luke Cage" functionally flips the script on traditional narratives of the plight of black men in America, because prison gave him new life. Other symbols that are frequently used are things like hoodies and police violence. As Renaldo Matadeen points out, “The writers didn’t mince their words when it came to the issue of racism. Black Lives Matter was at the forefront throughout, especially with the less-than-subtle, yellow-tinged hoodie Cage wore, which became a symbol of resisting systematic oppression when the cops were unjustly hunting him; a clear tribute to Trayvon Martin.”

The hoodie has been recognized as a symbol in specific communities as a specific identity but, more importantly, it has become associated with resisting systematic oppression. This symbol is exemplified by the violence that Luke Cage endures throughout the show, most notably when he is shot by the police in multiple episodes. After each incident, Cage goes about his business without so much as a scratch on his body. All that is left of the violence that clings to Cage are the holes in his hoody. As the storyline progresses, you will start to notice (in one of the episodes) that the people on the street are wearing hoodies with “bullet holes” in them. This symbol is significant because Cage became a weapon against unfair distributions of power. The people on the street no longer had to fear being shot by the police, because the police had to answer to Luke Cage.

Finally, I appreciate the fact that Netflix represented a diverse group of people in a unique way. The show does not show the black community as a monolith, but rather as a very expansive culture with differing views. More specifically, "Luke Cage" represents women of color very positively. As D. Watkins puts it,

“The writers did an amazing job of highlighting all these realities, with black women taking on a diverse assortment of leading roles and being just as if not more important than Cage at times. The strength, power and brilliance of black women are too often ignored and I’m glad those layers are highlighted in this show. Simone Missick plays Detective Misty Knight as the best cop in Harlem, the only officer capable of finding truth; she’s confident, ethical and intelligent. Alfre Woodard plays Mariah Dillard with those same strong leadership qualities, but as a gangster politician on a path to domination.”

These sorts of power dynamics are not typically represented by mainstream television, but now that Marvel is opening up new avenues it will be interesting to see where this will lead. For now, I am going to go back and watch "Luke Cage" for a second time.

Cover Image Credit: Current Hollywood

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Things To Know Before Dating A Firefighter

You'll learn how to tell the difference between different kinds of sirens.
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There are just certain things you are going to want to know before dating a fireman. In my experience, I had to learn along the way. But at the end of all the calls, constantly smelling his gear in the car and sometimes even cancelled plans, I sure do love my firefighter!

SEE ALSO: 10 Reasons To Date A Country Boy

You were promised a list, so here it is:

1. If they are even within 20 minutes of the station, they will always leave you to go on a call.

No matter the circumstances, if you have a fireman on your hands, he will jet to the car and be on his way.

SEE ALSO: What It's Like To Date A Police Officer

2. Meeting nights are not something you try and fight with them about. They are going to leave and you do not have to like it because it wasn't up to you anyway.

I have learned that these nights are not optional. Yes, other people miss them, but not my firefighter.

3. No matter where you are or what you're doing the minute they hear a firetrucks horn, they're looking for it and hoping they're not missing anything good.

You will learn the lingo. Structures, fully involved (the good stuff) smoke alarms, cat in a tree (ehh I mean they are fireman...soooo still good stuff).

4. They know the exact difference between an ambulance, cop, and, of course, a fire truck siren.

Which means that you will have to learn, too.

5. You’ll have to accept that when he has to do hall rental cleanup, you're going with to help.

You fold the chairs and he stacks them. And Im talking at like 12 a.m.,1 a.m.

6. When you come around the firehouse, there will be jokes made and they'll mess with him about you or even you about him.

Honestly it's a giant bromance going on and they prey on this kinda stuff.

7. At first, you won't really have a name to the fire guys. Until you're around long enough.

You'll just be Boyfriend's name's girlfriend.

8. The fire pager goes where he goes.

Next to the bed, in the car, next to your bed, your living room, EVERYWHERE. And even if it's not the real pager, it's the dog app that I can never remember the name of so dog app it is. (Say that really fast to get the full effect).

9. They will probably wear their station shirt/apparel at least 4-5 days a week.

AT LEAST.

10. If you've got a good one, you're always put first. The list will always go "You, the firehouse, me, everyone else."

But secretly they always want to put the firehouse first.

11. You will learn and know more stations, trucks, members, and chiefs than you will ever want to admit.

Unbelievably true.

12. When you're driving and you see a fire station, you'll have to look at it.

If its an amazing building, you'll have to remember the name. And then you'll have to tell him about it. And then you've just proved number 11 correct. Add it to your list.

13. Never make plans while he's on a call. You can never know when he'll be back.

Even if the calls are short, they could stay at least another hour washing the trucks and being boys, of course.

14. In case you didn't understand the severity of the first one, if you are on the phone and you hear the pager go off in the background, just tell him you love him and hang up.

Because if you don't, he will. "Got a call, Love you, bye." Mid-sentence is always what you want to hear.

15. You'll never want to watch "Ladder 49" again.

You will cry like a baby and then want to make him quit.

16. Outside of the stations, fireman tend to forget that fire isn't a toy and it's pretty damn hot.

*Playing with the lighter fluid or burning things on the stove*
"No it's alright, I'm a firefighter."

17. You will start your own station shirt collection.

From NYFD memorial shirts, a station from where you're vacationing even acquired old shirts of his, you will have started your own pile of station shirts.

18. You can't get angry or upset when he is unavailable because he's going to go to the firehouse for the fifth time that week, or if there's another fire prevention thing to do.

You can't be mad because he's doing what he loves and also because a man in a uniform isn't too shabby.

There are a lot more things to know before dating a fireman, but the rest you'll just have to learn along the way.

SEE ALSO: 5 Things To Know Before Dating Someone With Anxiety

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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I Spoke With A Group Of DACA Recipients And Their Stories Moved Me To Tears

An experience that forever changed my perspective on "illegal" immigrants.

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I thought I was just filming about a club meeting for a project, but when I entered the art-filled room located in a corner of the student common area, I knew this experience would be much more than a grade for a class.

I was welcomed in by a handful of people wearing various Arizona State hoodies and T-shirts that were all around my age. They were college students, like myself, but something felt different when talking to them. They were comforting, shy at first, and more driven than the peers that I usually meet.

As I began to look around the room, I noticed a good amount of art, murals, religious pieces, and a poster that read, "WE STAND WITH DREAMERS." The club was meant for students at ASU that are either undocumented or DACA recipients.

Photo by Amanda Marvin

As a U.S. citizen college student, you typically tend to think about your GPA, money, and dating. As a DACA recipient college student, there are many more issues crowding your brain. When I sat down at a club meeting for students my age dealing with entirely different problems as me, my eyes were opened to bigger issues.

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program allows for individuals that crossed the border as children to be protected from deportation and to go to school or work. Commonly known as DREAMers, these individuals are some of the most hard-working, goal-oriented and focused people I have met, and that's solely because they have to be.

In order to apply to be a DACA recipient, it is required that the applicant is attending school with a high school diploma, or a military veteran, as well as have a clean criminal record. While being a DACA recipient does not mean that you can become a permanent citizen of the United States, it allows for opportunities that may not be offered in their home country.

It's no secret that the United States has dealt with immigration in a number of ways. From forming new policies to building a wall on our nation's border, we see efforts to keep immigrants from entering the U.S. every day. But what about the people who are affected?

As the club members and I began a painting activity regarding where we came from and how we got to where we are today, I began to feel the urge to cry.

Photo by Amanda Marvin

One girl described the small Mexican town that she grew up in and the family that still resides there. She went on to talk about how important education is to her family and so much so that it was the cause of her family's move to the United States when she was still a child. Her voice wavered when she talked about the changing immigration policies that prevent her from seeing her family in Mexico.

Another member of the club, a boy with goals of becoming a journalist, talked of his depression and obstacles regarding growing up as an undocumented student. Once he was told by his father that he was illegal, he began to set himself apart from his peers and became someone he did not think he would ever be.

All of my worries seemed small in comparison to theirs, and I felt a pang of regret for realizing I take my own citizenship for granted every single day.

Terminating the policy would lead to the displacement of about 800,000 people. We tend to forget about the human aspect of all of this change, but it's the most important part.

For more information about this club, visit https://www.facebook.com/USEEASU/

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