Thinking about my early days with comics, I realized they were the gateway to my interest in publishing, my first real awareness of people and a process behind the scenes that connected me to the stories and characters I enjoyed so much. I read "regular" books just as voraciously as comics, but Marvel and DC were meaningful brands while book publishers weren't. I had no idea (and didn't particularly care) who published Encyclopedia Brown or Stephen King until my first job in a bookstore (at 19 years old), and even then they were just vague corporate logos with no personal relevance.
If you're white and work in publishing, the path to creating a more diverse industry that represents the real world is actually a lot clearer than it is for those who are underrepresented. You're the default; you have access and influence and the ability to drive change from the inside. And thankfully, I know many who are doing exactly that and I appreciate their efforts. But what about the rest of us? How can we help drive change in this industry we care so much about, despite it so often not caring all that much about us?
Between The World and Me, is one of the most important books to be published this decade, surely, possibly even this young century. In context of the long list of tragic events of the past few years (from Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland, to Ferguson, Baltimore, and Charleston), it is timely, but that's the easy part. It's the combination of Coates' framing (a letter to his son) and his raw, unapologetic tone (no white gaze-y appeasement here) that makes it stand out as a singular work that has drawn deserved comparisons to James Baldwin.
Having our own kids growing up around a relatively diverse group of kids was an important factor for us when we left the Bronx nearly four years ago, and while we technically found what we were looking for, what we didn't account for was the overwhelmingly white staff that would be teaching them.
In light of Marvel and DC's continued inability to introduce new superheroes with diverse backgrounds, a full generation after everyone wanted to "be like Mike" and Will Smith became a bankable leading man, what does the furor over Morales say about the state of comics and their place within pop culture?