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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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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I Want My School To Be As Diverse As Their Advertisements Claim They Are

Several campuses pride themselves on a wide range of individuals who attend their institutions, but what is the reality versus the things we see?

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When deciding on a college I wanted to know what I was going to be getting myself into for 4 years. I watched so many videos of Boise State Universities campus to find out what I had to look forward to. I was from a smaller town in Southern California so I was very used to the amount of diversity in my school and basically whole life at that point. I am a White Mexican-American female and while growing up in my city, I was a part of the minority of white individuals. I always wanted a campus who would represent me, or I could see myself at. I looked at so many ads before I did a campus tour and looked at stacks of brochures scattered across my room with my sister. I saw people who looked like the friends I had throughout my life, my family, and most importantly myself.

I took two tours of the campus and noticed that there was a lack of the people I saw on the brochures on the actual campus and city. I walked around only really seeing individuals who were white. I drove the 14 hours back home and continued to think about how I didn't see the diversity that was advertised in everything I saw from the university. It wasn't until the big move-in day that I realized the lack of diversity I was experiencing in the staff and the individuals I shared classrooms with. When you check the university's website you can see the numbers and the lack of diversity.

  • American Indian/Alaska Native — <1% (118)
  • Asian — 2% (595)
  • Black/African American — 2% (425)
  • Hispanic/Latino — 13% (3,243)
  • Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander — <1% (121)
  • Not Reported — 4% (914)
  • Two or More Races — 4% (1.079)
  • White — 73% (18,612)
  • Nonresident (International) — 2% (433)

The numbers I was seeing wasn't matching the things I was seeing around, and it wasn't until I conducted my own research and interviews with my peers that I noticed that I wasn't the only individual that was craving more diversity on campus. Other students wanted to more people who were like them around campus. Boise State University is not the only campus that will push diversity when its really to only meet their quota. Students who transferred from Arizona State University also mentioned to me that they face similar issues and feelings around diversity from their campus. I want to bring the topic of diversity to many of the student organizations on campus to help our voice be heard for a want for a more diverse campus.

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