Who can tell me what's odd about this cover I posted yesterday...
The answer is that it features a black woman kissing a white man. Why is that odd, you ask? Because it's the ONLY one.
Seriously, the only one.
Yesterday I was actively looking for comic covers that featured any sort of romantic relationship between a black woman and a white man, and this was the only one I could find. Star Trek was the first TV show to feature an interracial kiss, but there was not even a hint of that in any of the comics. The Star Wars franchise features a fairly racial diverse cast, but nowhere do they cross that line into interracial romances.
How about any of the Tarzan titles? The whole point was he was this white guy in Africa! Nada. Conan? Nothing there either.
Fantastic Four, the first title to introduce a black superhero? The first mainstream comic to even mention the idea of homosexuality? Nothing.
How about the amazing slew of underground comix? Stuff from Robert Crumb maybe? Vaughn Bode? Gilbert Shelton? Kim Deitch? The folks who ripped down the walls of comic book conventionality, ran over them with a steamroller, burned them to ash, and then buried them? Well, I'll admit that I don't have access to each and every underground comic ever made, but I sure as hell can't find any instances of any interracial couplings touted on a cover.
Well, what about New Avengers? Jessica Jones is indeed Caucasian and Luke Cage is indeed African-American, and I applaud Brian Michael Bendis for establishing that relationship. But that's an African-American male with a Caucasian female. And that, as I understand it, is more socially acceptable and a completely different animal.
As I understand things from a lady-friend who happens to be black (read as: well-informed first-hand on this subject), there's something of a hierarchy of social strata with regards to interracial dating. It's more acceptable, for example, for a white man to date a Hispanic woman than it is for a Hispanic man to date a white woman. Without getting into an extended description of all the permutations, I'll sum up by saying that, effectively, black women are at the bottom of the totem pole. White men have a tendency to pass them over because they're considered too far beneath his station, while black and Hispanic men strive to further their own selves by partnering upwards with Caucasian women. That essentially leaves black (and Hispanic) women with a smaller pool of potential partners, further shrunk by the fact that black men are about 25% more likely to wind up in the prison system than their white counterparts.
Obviously, I don't condone that thinking. Before having some of these discussions with my lady-friend, I had no real clue that such issues still existed. Call me naive, but I've always held to the notion that color, race or creed are simply non-issues. Trite as it may sound, it's what's inside that counts. "Peoples is peoples."
That said, there have been some white man/black woman relationships portrayed in comics. Coincidentally, I just finished reading Heart of Empire: The Legacy of Luther Arkwright which features just such a relationship developing between Hiram and Angela as a sub-plot. Shard and Wild Child were an item for a while in various marvel books. More famous is the romantic interludes of Iron Fist and Misty Knight. And more recently, Yorick and Agent 355 developed a romantic relationship in Y: The Last Man. These types of character relationships are rare, indeed, but not unheard of. And I suspect that it's actually not far removed from the per capita number of real interracial relationships like that.
BUT it's still only been depicted on a comic cover just the once. Hardly seems appropriate for what should be a more progressive medium.
"A-ha! Sean, you're forgetting about Storm and Forge!"
Well, I have to admit that I did forget about them at first. But you'll remember that Forge is a Native American, not a Caucasian. On that social strata I mentioned earlier, that falls into a different category. (And, I might add, the relationship they began in Uncanny X-Men #186 doesn't even get suggested on a cover until #289, a dozen years later!)
Back to my point, though... out of over 150,000 individual issues over the course of the better part of a century, there's exactly one cover that features a black woman kissing a white man? I know that comics historically aren't particularly progressive compared to other media, but are they really that far behind on this specific issue? Somebody, please tell me that I'm just totally not seeing earlier and/or more examples!