Image of marvel's new biracial Spider-man revealing his face from underneath his mask.

Image of marvel’s new biracial Spider-man, named Miles Morales, revealing his face from underneath his mask.

Biraciality is the internal struggle, especially in young people, to discover exactly who they are and where they belong. The struggle is depicted in this image.

The animation, the brown strip in the background, and the speech bubble all point to comic book graphics.  It is evident that this image depicts Spider-man because of the red and blue outfit. The patterned glove and the part of the mask that is visible (with a glimpse of an eye hole), along with the blue sleeve and red collar are recognizable. The man under the mask seems distraught. His large emotional brown eyes are accentuated; they appear shiny as if watering or tearing up. His eyebrows are furrowed and they convey his concern. Drops of sweat roll down his forehead. His speech bubble reads, “Maybe the costume is in bad taste.”

This Spider-man is Black, as implied by his defined features. His thick lips are slightly parted and they’re not much different in color than his dark skin. He also has a thick round nose. Where he is lifting the mask, his hair is shown, which is cut short and styled like a Black man’s.

All young people are searching for their identity, trying to find a place in this world. To add to this confusing goal, many adolescents further struggle as a result of their biraciality.

Being biracial, there can be tension between two groups that manifest themselves in one person. Historically, society has looked down upon it because mixed marriages were taboo. Today, the conflict is not the result of prejudice against mixed marriages; the uneasiness that biracial people feel comes from within themselves. Miles Morales is Black and Latino. He appears Black, but perhaps on the inside he relates to the Latino culture. When he is with Latinos, they may treat him more like an outsider because he does not look like them. And when he is with Blacks, they might expect him to act in adherence to their culture. This double consciousness is a common theme among biracial people.

In Danzy Senna’s novel Caucasia, the protagonist is a young girl who is biracial, and looks White, even though she identifies more with Black culture. Her sister, however, looks Black. It shows that biraciality can cause tension in one’s own family, even between siblings.

As seen in Senna’s novel, in the search for identity, some biracial people try to pass one way of the other. If they physically resemble one group and also align themselves with that group internally, they may just be doing what feels natural to them, and it’s the solution to their struggle. But  simplicity is not always enough to make a person content with their identity.

Simply covering up half of your race can leave emptiness inside a person. There comes a time when it is time to remove the mask. Although Spider-man can do amazing things with his mask on, he must also be true to the person he is on the inside. Whether he considers himself Latino or Black, is for him to discover. And finding the perfect balance, realizing his identity, is a truth worth struggling for.


Bishop, Marlon. “Marvel Comics Unveils New Biracial Spider-Man from Brooklyn.” Wnyc.orghttp://www.wnyc.org/articles/features/2011/aug/03/brooklyn-spider-man/
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Is the World Ready for an Ethnically Diverse Spider-Man?

abrestholecek444, “All New Multiethnic Spider-Man.” Nuke the Fridge. Web.<https://polygrafi.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/donald-glover-spiderman.jpeg&gt;

Is the World Ready for a multiethnic Spider-Man?

The new ethnically diverse version of Spider-Man, met with a lot of negative feedback, is the wake-up call that prejudice is still far too prevalent in today’s society.

The above image shows the commonly Caucasian superhero Spider-man, portrayed as a Black man. The tone of the image is rather dark and it appears that he has just come from a fight because his costume is tarnished and his mask is missing. The teenage superhero also has his backpack draped over his right shoulder. Although it is nighttime and he is in the midst of the city, Spider-Man has a calm expression on his face.

The interpretation of this image is far more complicated than the surface analysis because of all the social implications of the portrayal of Spider-Man as a black man. Based solely on my knowledge of pop-culture, I know that the man in the image is the comedian/actor/rapper Donald Glover (or Childish Gambino). Furthermore, I know that this image has been altered and that the original is from the recently released “The Amazing Spider-Man” starring the White British actor Andrew Garfield. This image comes from an online campaign to make Donald Glover the new Spider-Man that started mostly as a joke. However, around the same time the “Ultimate Universe” comic company released a series of Spider-Man comics featuring a half-Black, half-Hispanic Spider-Man. The combination of the online campaign and the growing popularity of the new Spider-Man comics resulted in a surprisingly large and vicious backlash. In his stand-up routine, Donald Glover plays the negative response for laughs, musing at how people can still be so prejudice and so outraged over something so simple as a superhero comic book. And as Childish Gambino, Donald Glover addresses the negative response as a real problem as he angrily raps about the overwhelming amount of negative emails, tweets, and letters he received. Even in the mainstream media there has been some derision. Glenn Beck, notoriously conservative talk radio host, denounced the change in the comic calling it “stupid.” Meanwhile Alexandra Petri of the Washington Post gave perhaps the most insightful statement about the controversy: “the response to the new black Spider-Man shows why we need one.” (abrestholcek444)

The fact that changing the race of a beloved superhero sparked such a controversy demonstrates that we have not fully erased prejudice from our society. Many people know that prejudice still exists, but sometimes it takes an issue as silly as this to remind us just how prevalent it really is.

abrestholecek444, “All New Multiethnic Spider-Man.” Nuke the Fridge. nukethefridge.com. Web.

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