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Black Superheroes: Black Superwomen of History and Today

by Reagan Williams

(Source: Pexels)

Throughout the course of time, Black women consistently use their “Black Girl Magic” as their armor and superpower. Generally speaking, Black women carry the essence of a “superwoman” which is evident through their numerous and pioneering achievements in history and contemporary society.

From fantasy, history, and reality, Black female superheroes continue to exist. They range from the first female Captain Marvel, Monica Rambeau, Storm of the X-Men comic and Bumblebee, DC Comics first Black female superhero. Female Black superheroes did not appear in comic books until the1970s when Blaxploitation films were at its height. Minorities were underrepresented and started to phrase out from their counterparts as their sidekicks gained importance in mainstream media and independent comics.

At one point in time, Black women superheroes powers represented the animal kingdom, or in storylines of hidden truths like the dark-skinned twin sister of Wonder Woman, Nubia, who graduated from college like Thunder or has representation as a power player like criminal attorney, Crimson Avenger. These female Black superheroes share parallel circumstances, walks of life and represent archetypes of notable Black female heroes who we ] recognize from our history’s reality as trailblazers e.g., U. S. Congresswoman, Shirley Chisholm or tennis player, Serena Williams. Then, there are the lesser known Black women who are impacting our present day, like Luvvie Ajayi, author, speaker and digital strategist.

What qualities must a superwoman possess to change the course of history? Alicia Keys sings Superwoman, about putting “on her vest with a “S” on her chest despite the state of humanity.

For instance, Black women are superheroes that have been pivotal in the creation and development of our reality in this universe of abolitionists, civil rights activists, journalists and entrepreneurs. We know these Black women superheroes as Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Ida B. Wells, Madame C.J. Walker, and many others. They’re associated with some of the same powers and traits of Black female superheroes in comics for being educated, fighting for humanity, freedom and justice for the rights of Black people.

There is a 1988 R&B song, I’m Not Your Superwoman sung by Karen White that talks about a woman who consistently cooks breakfast and dinner for her partner while rushing home to do things for him; yet she emphasizes that she is “only human” with expectations on how she should be treated. How do Black women counter social constructs that are presented in daily life to act as superheroes to combat racism or sexism? Some of these images of Black womanhood in contemporary literature are demonstrated in the works of authors, Toni Morrison in Sula or Alice Walker in The Color Purple. The literary works of both authors are compared and contrasted with the association of the Black Feminist Movement to the Womanist Movement, pioneered by Walker’s two ideologies melded with one another in terms of meaning, definition, womanhood and Black women’s struggle for inclusivity and equality in society.

No matter what movement you are part of or support and what you are trying to achieve, remember the Black female superheroes of history and today-- Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi known for starting the Black Lives Matter Movement to founder Tarana Burke of the Me Too Movement.

Lastly, don’t forget your own “superhero power.”

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