I know, I know. Why are we talking about racism, and what does that have to do with politics and/or comics? Well to be brief about a subject that extends all the way back to the 1880’s, I want to talk about the basis of racism.
In the vernacular racism is discriminating against a particular race of people. However, an anthropological definition calls genetic factors, traits, and capacities into question along with skin color. From this point mankind has built up prejudices against each other, somehow forgetting where it all started.
So having this as a background, let’s jump into the X-Men. In the past the X-Men have been oppressed and hated for what and who they are. And for many people out there, they are a symbol of the struggle to overcome bigotry and hatred. Yet there is a fundamental flaw in this analogy.
I truly believe that there is only one species of mankind regardless of race. I think that if the world agreed on this, then racism could be boiled down to the simple, idiotic prejudices of the uninformed. And this could be overcome with time.
However, in light of this view, the imagery of the X-Men as a beacon of hope against racism is called into question. Because mutants are a different species than homo sapiens; because man is scared of what he cannot understand; and because there can only be one dominant species on the planet at a time, scientific racism should be applied to this scenario instead of mere “racism.”
Marvel has inadvertently shot themselves in the foot in setting the X-Men up as a picture of an oppressed minority. To say that people are prejudice against the X-Men in a way similar to racial prejudice is to, in effect, say that there are actually two or more different species of mankind—which only hinders the pursuit of racial equality. But, conversely, to say that the picture of the X-Men’s social struggle is accurate is to say that mutants are not truly a different species, thus negating years of lore and continuity.
Overall, this doesn’t matter because the X-Men don’t really exist. So why am I harping on this? Why are we discussing this? To help our readers think about the messages they are hearing. To understand and more closely identify with the stories you love. But also to bring you one of the fundamental messages of the X-Men: Treat everyone with genuine care, not thinking of yourself more highly of others, because when it boils down to it: we are all the same.