Statistics shows consumers are on the verge of a culture shift but internally, comic book publishers haven’t changed much.
Much of Generation X and a good amount Millennials grew up ingesting media predominantly starring Caucasians in lead roles. Be it action film stars, affable cartoon characters, or ass-kicking video game avatars, those in the forefront of the content we saw daily were White.
It stands to reason: between the CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia, White people remain the majority in the US at 63–80% of the population. Latinos are second at 16%, Blacks 12–13%, etc. These numbers mean that the majority of media consumers and producers are still White.
“Progress had led to superhero lineups with at least one Black person on a team, but these characters were clear afterthoughts overshadowed by White characters, making them of little consequence. It wouldn’t be until the 1990’s that I’d see two Blacks filled a team roster at the same time.”
Despite the Civil Rights Act of 1968, opportunities to work in media did not appear overnight for Black people. This time of unrest in the country put Black civil rights on the forefront on cultural conscious, the creation of Black characters was still in the hands of White media.
The times inspired the creation characters such as Black Panther (1966, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby), Falcon (1969, Stan Lee and Gene Colan), Luke Cage (1972, Archie Goodwin and John Romita Sr.), and Green Lantern; John Stewart (1972, Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams).
It wouldn’t be until nearly a decade after the Civil Rights Act passed that a Black person would have a role in creating a Black superhero. Black Lightning (1977) was salvaged from the offensive concept of Black Bomber, a White man who turned into a Black superhero under stress.