When Dora Milaje Been Squad: On Black Women Superheroes
I asked my 3 children if they could each name a Black female superhero. They responded;
Curious as to my youngest son’s answer, I probed him further.
“Why is Rosa Parks a superhero?”
“Because she helped her people.”
More often than not, conversations with my children leave me feeling slightly puzzled. In that moment, I was simply humbled. I had prepared myself to write about usual Black women superheroes like Storm, Angel Salvadore and Monica Rambeau. I was prepared to offer my critique on society’s continued oppression of Black women even within the fictional world of comics. Instead, my youngest son managed to point out that in my quest to find the “perfect” fictional Black girl superhero, I had overlooked the many real life examples God has blessed me with. So instead of writing about the fictional Marvel and DC characters, I decided to write about the Black female superheroes in my life.
Mildred Taylor (author, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry)
Code name: Captivate
Super powers: Through her writing, Captivate is able to transport young girls from their dysfunctional lives into Cassie’s (main character) world. She alone is responsible for creating and fostering my love of books, a skill that would later be pivotal when I dropped out of school at the age of 14 and subsequently returned to school without any formal high school education, eventually earning a B.A in philosophy with honors.
Code name: Pillar (of Strength)
Super powers: To stand when all about her crumbles. My mother taught me that sometimes you can’t make lemonade from life’s lemons– in which case, you have to use a little “African Ingenuity,” grab a few more ingredients and whip up a lemon ice box pie.
Code name: Lady Corinth
Super powers: To love unconditionally. My aunt never stopped caring and thankfully she was still there when I realized I was worth caring about. Willing to extend herself for the purpose of helping others grow, she is proof that altruism really does exist.
Code name: Butterfly
Super powers: My baby sister/cousin is surely becoming aware of her power. Smart and beautiful, the world can only benefit from her presence. It is a joy to watch as she emerges from her cocoon.
Dr. Nancy Tolson
Code name: Legacy
Super powers: The ability to instill confidence and self worth in all of the young women blessed enough to cross her path. I can only imagine her first thought when meeting me- I wore a “Jackie O” sundress and high heels, my hair perfectly straightened, french manicured fingernails with a matching pedicure. Legacy wore a Kente print skirt, dreadlocks, cowboy boots and behind her was a Bob Marley poster– she decided to love me anyway.
Code name: Protégé
Super powers: While she too has yet to come into the fullness of her powers, my daughter often exemplifies maturation beyond my comprehension. Raised by a mother who was still a child herself, Protégé knows that her path rarely overlaps with that of conformity.
To these Superheroes in my life, a simple thank you doesn’t suffice. I can only pray that some day, I am to someone else what you all are to me.