Superhero— a type of heroic stock character, usually possessing supernatural or superhuman powers, who is dedicated to fighting crime, protecting the public, and usually battling supervillains. -source
You know, I always wondered when I would watch a movie where a black woman was being rescued by a superhero— I’m still waiting.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am pretty clueless when it comes to the Comic Book Culture. Growing up, I was never really into the idea of some fictional character being able to come rescue me. I knew of the big guys, Batman, Spider-Man, Superman– but honestly, can’t relate. To me, these characters were just white men that looked nothing like me, so how could I possibly aspire to be like those guys? Especially being the girly-girl that I am, I wasn’t even interested in the fight scenes, or supervillains’ next plan to destroy all of humanity.
I’m more of a (Black) Barbie girl. And even then—- all I saw was a blonde, skinny, white girl who had a lot of money and a black friend. So yes, she was who I liked, but I didn’t really look up to Barbie’s black friend either because— who wants to be Barbie’s sidekick? #Nah
Then, fast forward to just a couple of years ago when I started binge watching The Boondocks on Netflix and I fell in love. My sister-friend, who is a comic book kind-of-girl, let me know that The Boondocks started out as a comic strip back in the day.
So there you have it, in 2016, I finally got my taste of the comic book world. Better late than never, right?
This post was inspired by a conversation my significant other and I were having last week about the greats. Yes, the greats– because we casually discuss innovative ways to embrace the culture on the regular. He shared something so profound with me, and it really had me thinking. We were watching video clips on Instagram about how, once upon a time, Michael Jordan (MJ) himself didn’t even make the basketball team at his high school.
He then shared, with exclamation, how MJ is a GOAT and MJ is his superhero, because he strives for greatness:
“Michael Jordan is my superhero.
My Superheroes are:
and Michael Jackson.”
Then, I sat there with a blank stare and thought, wait who are my superheroes?! I never even considered this! After some careful thought about what that really means to me, I realized, by definition I DO have superheroes, they just aren’t expressed in the form of popular cartoon characters.
They are people who have had some type of heroic influence in my own life.
“Can my grandma be one of my Superheroes?
Yup! So, my Superheroes are:
and Johnnye Belle Warren.”
When I think of the civil rights movement in America today, I think of great leaders of the past that relentlessly fought for justice and equality for black people worldwide. I think of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and how he led an entire nation to social justice and equality. But most importantly, I think of the woman who held a man like Dr. King down through it all. I think of the woman who held Dr. King at night, and made sure the children were fed and dressed nicely at all times. I think of the woman who had to speak life into her husband, at a time when it seemed as if the entire world was out to assassinate him. I think of her grace and strength and how I want to lead a life that embodies this level of beauty and femininity. She is such a grand example of womanhood; as a wife, mother, sister, daughter, civil rights activist, community leader, and dear friend. Coretta Scott King is my hero.
Johnnye Belle Warren
I’m saving the best for last. Out of all the superheroes I’ve ever known, my favorite superhero of them all is my late grandmother, Johnnye Belle Warren. I remember in the 5th grade I had to write an essay on someone who was very special to me and I dedicated the entire essay to my grandma, a.k.a. Backbone Belle. My grandma, much like many grandmothers in the African-American community, was the backbone of our family. What I admire most about my grandmother is her Godly nature and how she always kept the family close. We used to drive 12-hours every year (since I can remember) to the annual family reunion in North Carolina, and it was a time to fellowship with distant family and loved ones. She is my superhero because she never turned her back on her family, and even raised me as her own child, along with my 2 older sisters. My grandmother was called home in 2015 and I think of her daily. But, I know her spirit of resilience, strength, and love for family lives through me today. My grandma saved my life, literally. I don’t know where I would be today if she hadn’t been kind enough to take me in as her own. My grandparents played an integral role in my outlook on life, and for them, I am grateful. My grandma is my superhero.
In the spirit of Wakanda and the debut of the highly anticipated Black Panther film, I am so glad to shed light on my own personal superheroes.
They may not wear capes or have sidekicks, but they sure do have magical superpowers!
These are my superheroes, who are yours?
Belle in the City