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On Luke Cage’s Strength and White Fragility

But, fear not, white people, while you’ve been angrily tweeting and writing long-winded posts, you’ve missed your shout out in Luke Cage.

Creighton Leigh

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Celebrity Sightings In New York City – September 22, 2015

I remember how hype I was when Gabrielle Union guest starred on an episode of Friends. I had watched the lackluster sitcom for seasons and until her appearance, I couldn’t recall any other black guest stars. And after Union’s appearance, there was only one other black guest star, Aisha Tyler, whose character disappeared after a short story arc. A show set in New York, one of the most diverse cities in the world, somehow lacked a diverse cast.  Union and Tyler’s characters never became permanent fixtures.


Friends went back to being all white, all the time. The same could be said for SeinfeldSex and The CityMad About You… you get the point. Most series, especially those set in historically diverse cities, such as New York, have mostly white casts. There are a few exceptions that we get to enjoy in syndication such as MartinFamily Matters and Living Single. Black people crave diverse television, and Luke Cage delivered. Since its much-anticipated release, Luke Cage has trended on social media.

It was recently reported that its release caused an interruption in Netflix’s service. So, it’s quite clear that this unapologetically black as fuck show is connecting with viewers around the world.  Well—not all viewers.

 

White people, who clearly struggle to understand the meaning of the word racism, have been angrily tweeting their discontent. They believe it’s racist to exclude white people from a story, even when blackness is central to the storyline. Luke Cage has mostly black characters and is set in Harlem, a historically black neighborhood rich with black culture. Many racists are wondering why they can’t connect with Luke Cage, but fail to understand how most of us can’t connect with shows with all white casts and characters. White people cry foul whenever they’re not centered, and each time it happens, it amazes me that such a fragile people have maintained supremacy for so long.

We can’t have shit. I’m sick of white tears. I’m sick of white fragility. Luke Cage, even with its imperfect, borderline respectable storyline, is the blackest shit I’ve seen in some time and I’m here for it, especially if it drives racists to distraction. White people will continue to try to make fetch happen with their cries of reverse racism. And their constant need to be victims will always be a ploy to make black people feel guilty about enjoying long over due representation. White people don’t know how to cope when whiteness isn’t centered.

But, fear not, white people, while you’ve been angrily tweeting and writing long-winded posts, you’ve missed your shout out in Luke Cage. So, to soothe your fragile souls, I am willing to put in the emotional labor to tell you exactly what you’ve missed– free of chargeThis series definitely centers peak whiteness. Just not white people. The impact of centuries of white supremacy is a common theme throughout the series. Oppression, rage, incarceration, disenfranchisement, gentrification, colorism, state sanctioned police violence and poverty are all things we can credit to white people, whiteness and white supremacy.  Hopelessness, fear and our gut instinct to rely on community heroes because a system not built for us continues to fail us, are things we can assuredly credit to whiteness. Ghosts of white supremacy’s past and present will always haunt Luke Cage just as it haunts other stories that center blackness.

Black people don’t want to see Connor, Brad and Tanner in the credits or on screen. Whiteness is a pervasive disease. And although white people refuse to accept responsibility, we have not been able to escape it, even when we tell our stories. Your legacy, much to my chagrin, is all up in and through Luke Cage. We’re done with white centered Hollywood. So, pardon me while I collect, bathe and exfoliate in those deliciously salty tears. We don’t care what white people think of this series. It ain’t for you. There’s a Gilmore Girls reunion on deck and Stars Hollow is as white as white can be. Enjoy.

Creighton Leigh is curious amalgam of failure, fear, hope, dreams and perseverance. She's a wife, mother and writer who loves olives and cheese. She's an avid collector of salty tears. In her spare time she enjoys dismantling the cis heteronormative patriarchy. She's Senior Editor for SimoneDigital.com

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