Many people are complaining about Marvel/Netflix’s Luke Cage. People have said “Oh, it’s too black.” or “It’s racist.” and my favorite “Why are they allowing a thug to be a hero?”. Lets set the record straight, if you do not agree with what is portrayed on the screen, don’t watch. But, for us that watch and realize and relate, we can understand.
Living a life as a black person isn’t easy, I speak from my own experience. It does not matter if you are “Not black enough” or living in the poverty striken areas of town. It is not easy for anyone. Luke Cage is a portrayal of a man trying to live a life of simple honesty despite his past. He doesn’t want to be involved with any of the rough business of town until the people he cares about are gunned down in a gang related shooting. They killed they only man who was trying to always move forward with the progression of his neighborhood and the people who inhabit the tough streets of Harlem. In his absence Cage becomes the one to carry the torch. With his bullet proof skin,super strength and path of street justice he seeks to take down the forces of Cornell “Cotton Mouth” Stokes and his gang while turning Harlem into a better place. So how is that racist or thug like?
Cage represents fearlessness in a time of fear in black society. If you are well off or poor it does not matter. The social tensions of today feel like any one of us as black people, especially male, could easily be killed at any moment and news media has caught many a shooting/execution in its light. Luke Cage is a symbol of overcoming that common everyday fear. Cage being bullet proof is a literal metaphor of a man overcoming a society corralled by fear and by walking a path of justice and overcoming that fear he becomes a symbol of hope and strength as well. He becomes a man who can ,through his physically fighting against wickedness, provide a means of change necessary to inspire a people to overcome and do better.
On the opposite side of the coin Cornell “Cotton Mouth” Stokes is a symbol of force. Not just force in a sense of power, but powerlessness. He never was able to choose his path. Cornell is a representation of an age old, soul-sick struggle to overcome stereotypes of a people who want to be more all while being forced to play his role. In black society, it’s hard trying to overcome and flourish into something better especially when people expect you to just get paid instead of owning the business. Cotton Mouth is a talented youth who could have become a great musical prodigy but instead he was forced to become the head of his care takers gang operations. He always carried that regret and anger. The same anger that a black man feels when he is told that he is not enough or is forced to do something else because society deems him not “worthy”.
These are just some of the things that I can see in this series. But the thing that really sticks out to me in the end is the fact that Cage goes back to jail. A proof that even though a man is innocent and does right he can still be judged wrong. Cage is not the only black man to be sent to jail for trying to follow ideals as far as trying to make a change. Martin Luther King was a man who was sent to jail multiple times and still he remains a symbol of progression and civil equality. When Cage was sent to jail, he vowed to review his case and prove his innocence. A mind-set that many wrongly accused have but can’t follow-up with easily. Cage once again becomes a symbol of hope for those who were sent to jail under false cause, proving that even in times of surrender and hopelessness, one must still move forward.
There are many other elements of Luke Cage that make this show relatable to black culture and society. But if you are too close minded to see that or are so confused about the show that you can’t relate, you won’t. Luke Cage isn’t meant to be a happy super hero romp through the crime filled streets of Harlem. Luke Cage is a gritty, hard realistic drama that does not shy away from the truth. Again, if you cannot relate you can always go watch Dare Devil and have a coke and a smile…
The rush is loud, so ride the lightning.
-War Child Offline