February 20, 2011


A forum discussion raises a good point about Bruce Wayne's recent time-travel trip to prehistoric America:Maybe this has been answered already but why were cavemen in the first issue Caucasian? It was supposed to be set at the site of future Gotham [City]. So why were they not depicted as Native American?Response #1:Anthro was the key caveman involved, and he's always been depicted as white. They'd have to change Anthro's (and Vandal Savage's) race to make it actually fit, or have him be the one white person in the tribe.

There's also the issue of Anthro, "the First Boy" living only 18,000 years ago, but [writer Grant] Morrison's acknowledged that it doesn't make sense; it just had to be that way for the story.
Response #2:Because they were exceptionally earlier than any Native culture you or any of us are familiar with? Because some of them later crossed a land bridge and traveled into Europe? Because we know--at least in the DCU--people moved all over the Earth back in our prehistory quit a bit? And, possibly, because despite insistence otherwise, North America is awfully big and had a variety of physiological types, in terms of skin tone, hair color, bone structure and so? Maybe all the above. Or, because.Comment:  This also applies to the Master of the World, an Alpha Flight villain. He began as a "caveman" in northern Canada (or Asia, according to one source), but is depicted as a white man.

Indeed, this is true of all fictional "cavemen"--i.e., all Early Modern Humans who lived from 35,000 to 10,000 years ago. It doesn't matter if they lived in Africa, Asia, or the Americas--which would've made them black, Asian, or Indian, respectively. Creators invariably depict them as white.

As respondent #2 tried to do, you can explain why any particular tribe of cavemen is white, even in the Americas. For instance, a lost tribe of Israel Europe wandered over to America. But the question isn't why one tribe of cavemen is white, it's why they all are.

And this is merely a subset of a greater problem. Most humanoid aliens (Star Trek, Star Wars, the Legion of Super-Heroes) are white. If they have blue or green skin, they still have Caucasian features. Most lost civilizations (the Inhumans, Wonder Woman's Themiscyra, Aquaman's Atlantis) are white too. Even fictional creatures like fairies, trolls, and mermaids are white.

Can you imagine a race of aliens who look Chinese? Or a lost civilization of the Inuit? Or a black mermaid? You probably can now that I've mentioned them, but did you ever think of them before? Or were the fictional beings you envisioned inevitably white?

Apparently writers can't imagine that the Americas were inhabited for 10,000-plus years by dark-skinned Paleo-Indians. It doesn't fit their mental map of human history. To them, the continent was more or less empty until the Europeans arrived. Indians appeared out of thin air to oppose the colonizers the way supervillains pop up to fight superheroes.

This is an example of several things: How people unconsciously express their white privilege (white skin as the default for every unknown race). How people are in denial about the racial reality. How people view Indians as inconsequential or invisible--good only as enemies in 19th-century Westerns.

For more on Paleo-Indians, see Were Indians "Colonists" Too? and Did Indians "Colonize" America? For more on the Bruce Wayne series, see Indian in RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE #4.

Below:  A real (reconstruction of a) Paleo-Indian...

...and Anthro, the white boy who should be a Paleo-Indian.


Jaine said...

agreed re the alien thing, though there is one exception - sometimes English speaking aliens in movies get other accents, especially if they are villians or comic relief. Everybody (well many) remember the stereotyped Jar Jar Blinks but I remember being surprised at how few people noted the Asian accents given to the greedy Trade Federation in the same movie.

Anonymous said...

Also Watto was an alter kocker, wearing a funny hat, with facial hair and a big nose, and he tries to cheat people. Nope, nothing antisemitic about that at all.

I think the choice of white cavemen is a form of mukokuseki, except it's not really "stateless" because the characters clearly have racial features.

Anonymous said...

You people are like Baptist preachers who can spot pornography in the most unlikely drawing, only with racial stereotypes substituted for porn.

Jaine said...

lol, love a comment that starts with "you people"
If you can't see racial stereotypes when they are glaringly obvious it says more about you than 'us'

Anonymous said...

I meant "you people" in the simplest, plainest, having nothing to do with race or stereotypes possible. "You" = "The following is addressed to the hearer or reader" (it's called "2nd person," look it up); "people" = "those who write for this blog or agree with what's written in it." But you had to interpret it as a racial stereotype. Thanks for proving my point.

Racial stereotyping will end as soon as Marxist race-hustlers like you (the blog writers and readers like Jaine) no longer influence what people think. First step to racial healing: Treat any person as if you could only speak to him/her through a curtain, like Archie Bunker did to a black man in the hospital bed next to him (the point here is, the pathological racist Archie didn't treat him his usual mean way until the curtain was lifted). Accord no special treatment, either negative or positive, to any person on account of skin color.

Jaine said...

You believe in treating everybody the same, regardless of skin colour yet defend racial stereotyping by putting down those who challenge them. Nice

Rob said...

Re "You people are like Baptist preachers who can spot pornography in the most unlikely drawing, only with racial stereotypes substituted for porn": Apparently you couldn't address the issues I raised, Anonymous, so you attacked the messenger instead of the message. How childishly obvious.