Anti-Racism Matters in Graphic Medicine, Too


Comics by African American Creators

There have been a lot of posts coming out with anti-racism reading lists, even some for comics and graphic novels. With the push this week to support #BlackPublishingPower and #BlackoutBestsellerList, I’d been thinking it would be good to have something for Graphic Medicine folk along the same lines.

Then this morning, I saw the Nib’s newest, In/Vulnerable: Zenobia – Largo, MD. This is one part in an amazing series the Nib is doing in partnership with Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting on how inequities and disparities are impacting health outcomes and experiences in the COVID-19 pandemic. Sure sounds like graphic medicine to me, doesn’t it? I hope they publish this in book form so I can get a copy for our library.

I read Zenobia’s story about her daughter with cerebral palsy, who worked in a grocery store. A grocery store that didn’t provide PPE for their staff. And her daughter died of COVID-19. My son grew up with what was called special needs, also, and, like Zenobia’s daughter, Leilani, he works in a grocery store. Not a big one like Giant Food, but a small coop in an upscale community. It’s really different. Staff have and use PPE, my son is sanitizing carts and baskets and places people touch things. Reading In/Vulnerable this morning was one of those moments. It just hit me, and I started crying, and had trouble stopping. I probably could use a mental health day, I guess, and you know what? That’s an option for me. That’s available to me. And somehow that doesn’t make this any better. My son wanted me to go watch cat videos, and I said, no, let me try to do something that might help instead. Even if it isn’t enough, ever, and can’t possibly be.

I’ve done posts before on social justice in comics, so you can start here: 45 Graphic Memoirs and Graphic Novels on Social Justice Themes. Right now, I’m still working from home (more privilege), and most of the books I have that would count for this are in the office, which hopefully explains the photo at the opening of this post. Because I blur social justice issues and the boundaries of graphic medicine, this might be a little loosely defined, but here are some titles I’d like to share with you at this time, in this context.


A COMIC ANTHOLOGY

Book: APB: Artists against Police Brutality, A Comic Book Anthology

I’ve been collecting comic anthologies for a research project, and let me tell you, this one is not well enough known. Go. Buy it. Read it.


BEN PASSMORE

Book: Your Black Friend, and Other Strangers

About prejudice, stigma, stereotyping, privilege, and sort of a core in the anti-racism comics canon.

Book 2: Sports is Hell

Believe it or not, this one is actually about rioting. Fancy that.


EZRA CLAYTAN DANIELS

Book: Upgrade Soul

An exploration of identity, mortality, and disability through a science fiction lens.

Book 2: Are You at Risk for Empathy Myopia?

Free online, but for sale if you want a print copy.


JOEL CHRISTIAN GILL

Book: Fights: One Boy’s Triumph Over Violence

A graphic memoir examining violence in the life of African American youth.


RUPERT KINNARD

Book: B.B. and the Diva

A brave outrageous early work of fiction LGBT superheroes, of a sort.


LEROY MOORE

Book: Krip Hop Nation

Exploring and honoring the power of spoken language arts and music through a lens of disability activism.


SAMI BRICE

Book: Waiting

A rather peculiar exploration of the concept of waiting in our lives.


TEE FRANKLIN

Book: Bingo Love

What does it mean to love someone when society says you aren’t allowed to be with them? What does it mean to love someone when you are finally allowed to be with them? What does it mean to love someone through aging, loss, and beyond?


TONY MEDINA

Book: I Am Alfonso Jones

Powerful. I can’t try to explain it without choking up. Go read the publisher’s description.


WHIT TAYLOR

Book: Madtown High

I’d recommend her book Ghost, except it isn’t available. This is another good one, graphic memoir exploring teen life.

See also:
New Podcast: Reconciling the Public and Private in Health Comics with Whit Taylor


OTHER BOOKS IN THE PHOTO

These might not count as graphic medicine, but they are by Black creators.

Bayou, by Jeremy Love (a daughter vows to save her father from being lynched)

Captain America: Truth by Robert Morales and Kyle Baker.


MORE

FYI, the Graphic Medicine Confab series starts TONIGHT (yay, Kriota!), and the presenter for the June 30th session is Joel Christian Gill, mentioned above. And there is a Comics as Resistance with Bianca Xunise event happening on Friday (which I know about thanks to Whit Taylor retweeting Radiator Comics).

15 Black Comics Artists Whose Work You Need to Read

Black Lives Matter Comics Reading Lists: BCALA and the ALA Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table: Black Lives Matter Reading List

Kugali Comics (Africa/Kenya)

We Need Diverse Comics

Comic Creators of Color

Black Lives Matter Comics: The systemic racism of policing in comics

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