Wednesday, October 05, 2016

5 Ways To Keep Luke Cage Relevant

5 Ways To Keep 
Luke Cage Relevant

The new hit show Luke Cage literally broke Netflix last week and some are wondering if it's a fluke or will it remain relevant.
As a youth advocate and preschool teacher from Generation X, I was born between 1961-1979, there are many things I learn from and teach our Millennials [Generation Y], Generation Z and Generation Alpha I primarily interact with everyday. Born between the years 1980-1995, 1996-2010 and 2011-2025, these are the generations who represent the Ambassadors of our future and what they know and understand will be the infrastructure and decorum of that future. It's important to mention this because we often overlook the fact that they will one day be in charge of social security, senior citizen housing and any legislation that will directly effect us as their elders. It's not only important to consider what they think but be involved in their growth and development.
Anyway, prior to this Marvel Television web series release I've kept up with the comic book narrative of Luke Cage with hopes of seeing "Power Man" on the big screen. The day came, the internet went batshit crazy and review after review heralded this superhuman Harlemite with unbreakable skin as the crime fighting [Black] God the Five Percenters have identified themselves as since 1964. Among its detractors were some white folks crying about the Harlem backdrop not being a gentrified North Manhattan and Wendy Williams posted a picture of Mike Colter [Luke Cage] with his white wife during an interview to discredit his Marvel Universe archetype, in real life. While people have been debating the social impact and relevance of this web series, many have failed to ask our Millennials and Generation Z what they think. I have been. I've also been checking out their commentary and reviews of Luke Cage and what I've found is they generally don't care or know enough of the social/cultural context to actually appreciate it. To many of them it's more of a novelty, not a statement of sociopolitical consciousness. For example, unless children born between 1980 and 2010 have Generation X or Baby Boomer parents and grandparents schooling them about the past, they'll have no idea what "70s Blaxploitation" is -which Luke Cage has been touted as. Of course there are exceptions, but even the best of Millennials and Generation Z who claim Hip Hop have no clue where episode names like "Who's Gonna Take The Weight?", "Manifest" or "DWYCK" came from. In mass, those who seem to appreciate this web series the most are my generation, Generation X, and some of the Baby Boomers.

The beauty in this is I've found myself challenged to introduce our youth to a deeper perspective and appreciation for where they are and what they have in Luke Cage, especially in a time where we are seeing un-human black men with breakable skin being murdered by police every day. From this introspection and experience I came up with 5 ways we can help build upon this narrative so our youth can get the most out of this web series and what's happening around it. These are 5 things I encourage you to consider if you're invested in doing the same:
1.) Watch the web series, encourage our youth to watch it and watch it with them if you can. Invest in the web series when it's available and keep it in your digital library. 

2.) Have open discussions that include Luke Cage within the Marvel Universe conversation alongside other super heroes/sheroes. Contrast and compare his ability to others. This morning in my preschool class I began teaching one of my 4 year old boys about Luke Cage, AKA "Power Man", by showing him who he was on my computer. When comparing him to Superman he said he needs a cape to which I simply responded, "He doesn't even need one, he looks and dresses just like you."
3.) Research social/cultural themes that are expressed or implied within the web series. For example, every episode is named after a Gang Starr song and this is an excellent opportunity to share their contribution to Hip Hop.

4.) Support positive products/services that reinforce these themes within the web series.
5.) If you celebrate Halloween, encourage the youth to dress like one of the web series characters and/or dress like one of these characters yourself along with them. How cool would it be as a Father to be Luke Cage? If you celebrate Christmas, support products, especially from black owned businesses, that reinforce the themes within the web series.

The ultimate goal here is to own, control and build upon this narrative. In regards to identity, it's important to orientate ourselves with language, symbols and archetypes of empowerment, especially in a society that promotes white nationalism, supremacy and iconography. It's also important to seek out and support black comic book writers, graphic designers and etc. Unlike our past generations, today our Millennials [Generation Y], Generation Z and Generation Alpha have the benefit of knowing and identifying with a Storm, Black Panther, The Falcon, Deadshot and now Luke Cage. We must take advantage of these opportunities. More importantly, we must create our own. Lastly, we need more positive images in real life, real men and women of power who are fighting crime and setting a righteous standard so that our families don't have to live in fear. This doesn't require us to gain superpowers in a sabotaged cellular regeneration experiment. It requires care and commitment to our people.

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