Black superheroes in toy stores have been on the endangered species list for as long as I can remember.
Look, there’s a Falcon! Wait, is that a Karl Mordo on the clearance rack?
Trying to find likenesses of high-powered brothas is like trying to find rare Pokemon.
I know personally because I am, quite literally, that big kid in the toy store. I see aisles upon aisles of Captain America, Superman, Transformers and every other toy under the sun.
Every other toy under the sun — EXCEPT heroes that look like me.
And this is why the revolution will be live.
I didn’t understand what or who my father brought home over 20 years ago in a colorful box marked “Sun-Man.” All I knew was that he wasn’t a Ninja Turtle — my toy of choice in those days.
“Who is Sun-Man, anyway?”
Sun-Man was created by a toy manufacturer known as Olmec Toys. Olmec was founded in 1985 by Yla Eason, and at the time was the largest minority-owned toy company in the United States. By 1995, the product line extended to toys of color for boys and girls. With its “ethnically correct” mantra, Olmec was committed to making sure dolls and action figures had appropriate skin tones and facial features to accurate represent the toy’s ethnicity.
It took me a lot of years to understand what my dad tried to do in that moment, but my parents have always been ahead of their time. They didn’t force-feed us “Blackness,” per se. Dad would give my brother and I dope suggestions like BlacFax (think “Trivial Pursuit” for Black folk). Mom would drop off books like “Justin and the Best Biscuits in the World.” My parents helped us to become “woke” even before the term became popular.
A lot of us are already excited for Black Panther because of two incredible movie trailers. In addition to the trailers, I am excited for Black Panther because of REPRESENTATION.
I can already see it by virtue of Halloween costumes. Little black boys can dress up as a superhero that looks like them! As a big kid at heart who still peruses the toy aisle, I think about all of the little revolutions that are going to happen when Black kids see T’Challa on the toy aisle. It makes my heart glad to think about young girls who can pick up a likeness of Shuri or the Dora Milaje.
Why do we need Marvel’s Black Panther? Because cultural revolution can lead to social revolution. Why do we need Marvel’s Black Panther? Because the imaginary heroes of today can inspire the real heroes of tomorrow.
Why do we need Marvel’s Black Panther? Because the revolution is going to be LIVE!