Indiana Law Journal

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Publication Citation

92 Indiana Law Journal Supplement 1 (2017)


The authors explore The X-Men comic as a metaphor for both racial discrimination in the United States and strategies for addressing such discrimination. In consideration of the recent rise in the shooting of people of color, particular African American men and women, at the hands of law enforcement officers, an increasingly vocal and aggrieved segment of the white populace in the form of the “alt right,” and a presidential candidate that both implicitly and explicitly deploys “law and order” and racist appeals for particular social and political changes, we appear to once again stand at an important crossroads in American history. In consideration of the social upheavals of the 1960s, these choices are, however, not new and have been well-detailed in graphic novels and comic books, such as The X-Men. These popular representations gesture toward an important question: Which approach (peace or violence) is best, particularly in light of the current struggle for racial equality in the United States? In Part I, the authors provide a basic analysis of how The X-Men deliver a metaphor for race, bias, and discrimination. In Part II, the authors parse the ideology and methods of Magneto, chief antagonist in the X-Men, as a metaphor for Malcolm X and the Black Power/Black Nationalist approach. In Part III, the authors parse the ideology and methods of Professor Xavier, chief protagonist in the X-Men, as a metaphor for Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement approach. The authors conclude by speculating as to which approach would be best for African American advancement today.