Theory in a Digital Age: A Project of English 483 Students, Coastal Carolina University

Luke Cage: Takes Twitter

In his talk, West said ""We know in America we can't get anything in the mainstream if we don't come to terms with white fears and white insecurities, and white anxieties, ... it's hard to tell the truth". Though the Black Lives Matter movement deals with the systematic hardships that black people face, people of all races should support the cause to create a society that can appreciate and respect each others differences rather than trying to silence each other. In the digital article, “#BlackLivesMatter Uses Social Media to Fight the Power”, Bijan Stephen talks about the ways that social media has shaped activism. Social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook have made it so activism is at the tips of our fingers. In this generation, we are confronted with the brutal and sometimes uncomfortable realities that minorities face by witnessing it on video streaming or digital narratives. Unfortunately, just because we have the ability to broadcast injustice doesn’t mean people will respond to it accordingly. Social media has also created a space for hatred, denial, and privilege to overshadow the problem of race in America. Stephen brings this up by saying, “Despite [social media’s] success in making videos of police violence go viral, social media itself has become another arena where black people are abused. Harassment, threats, and insults are basic hazards of online activism today, but they are especially pervasive for anyone speaking on the touchy subject of race in America” (Stephen). When I read this, I went back to comic books and thought about Netflix’s new Marvel inspired show, Luke Cage. As a huge comic fan, I watched the series as soon as it came out.  I think Luke Cage is an excellent television adaptation of the comic. However, when I searched #LukeCage on Twitter, I realized there was a lot of negative opinions on the show in regards to the cast. People were Tweeting complaints about the fact that the cast of Luke Cage is predominantly black. creen Shot 2016-10-24 at 10.58.05 AM.png
First of all, I thought that this was equally sad and laughable that people would comment on the fact that the cast was predominantly black because the show is set in Harlem, where the population is predominantly black. Second of all, this to me was an example of white anxiety because people are complaining that there isn’t enough diversity in a show, yet most television and movies are whitewashed.
The fact that a cast that is mainly black was met with such visible discomfort and labeled “racist” on Twitter shows that some white people have a very privileged outlook of race representation in media. I don’t recall any outrage or accusations of racism when the first Spiderman movie came out with a predominantly white cast. I also don’t remember any backlash about the black to white ratio in both of the Avengers movies. It would be easy to write off the tweets complaining about Luke Cage as a representation of individual ugliness and racism, but the amount of criticism about race shows that this is unfortunately a cultural phenomenon. White anxiety is not always conscious, so it can be hard to confront. While I was browsing Twitter I noticed another tweet that expressed white anxiety in a very honest way.  
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            The tweet above also addresses white anxiety, but it does so in a more productive way. The person tweeting is not only aware of their subconscious racism, they acknowledge and challenge it, creating a more honest talk about race and things that we experience when we are taken outside of our comfort zone. 

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