There are so many places for a fangirl to find her news. But not every website or blog has the critical eye we love to read, and that’s where CG comes in.
We had the opportunity to chat with CG (Twitter @BlkGirlManifest) about her secret origin story and so much more.
Girls in Capes was started to fill an intersectionality gap in the conversations on geek culture. What motivated you to start Black Girl in Media?
I grew up interested in nerd culture, but I didn’t really feel like I was all that welcomed. It goes beyond just me being individually welcomed; I didn’t see Black superheroes that looked like me being celebrated in the same way as the Greats were… Batman, Superman, their whole crew. In comics, you have Batman and Green Arrow, which are essentially the same character in different costumes. Yet no one is making a huff about them coexisting on the same plane. You never see that happen with marginalized characters, super or not.
Even if no one else read my blog outside of the class, I felt proud to put my voice out there.In the fall of 2014, I took a class on digital writing and our final project was to create a blog and gather a following. I was inspired by other blogs that embraced and pushed for change online, and thought, Hey, I could do that. Even if no one else read my blog outside of the class, I felt proud to put my voice out there.
From the very beginning, folks were receptive to what I was doing, so I kept pushing out content and building BGiM, even after the semester ended. And the rest, I guess, is history!
There are some really fun interviews in the BGiM Spotlights. What creator would be your absolute dream interview?
I’ve gotten to spotlight so many awesome creators of color in my feature! It’s really surprising me each time I conduct a new interview how much it’s growing. In my head, BGiM is a movement, and I see myself expanding to other prominent geek culture folks. I feel like every feminist fangirl will say Gail Simone or Kelly Ann Deconnick because they’re hands down awesome, but I’d also want to put Gina Torres and Jackie Ormes (R.I.P) on the list. Ormes, especially, has done so much for Black female comic artist visibility and still lacks the celebration she deserves… But that’s a whole different story.
Do you ever find that your work at BGiM relates to what you do in real life?
What’s great about BGiM is that there is no separation between my persona online and IRL. I’m a Black woman; even when I’m not trying to be, I’m a product of intersectionality. My background is in literature (creative writing specifically), social justice education, and a bit of tech dabbling. To me, BGiM is where I get to express all of that in a fun way. I pride myself on being honest with my fans.. I interact with my Twitter followers in real time; email and do most of the site management by myself. It’s the real me on BGiM, definitely.
How do you find your social justice education background intersecting with geek culture?
I sometimes feel like I’m one of the few nerd culture fans advocating for critical analysis of the franchises we love. My social justice background makes it easier – I know the language, the cycles, the technical stuff. Nerd culture really gives me a platform to humanize it and make people care. And it’s cool.. I get to engage in an audience that I wouldn’t IRL and I can help them understand social justice as well. Social justice and nerd culture are interests that normally don’t get to intersect but can create a really powerful teaching tool to push for change.
There’s definitely a lot that different forms of entertainment — book publishers, comic publishers, and of course Hollywood — could do much better in terms of representation, but what do you think is the one most important thing that geeks like us can do to encourage better representation in entertainment?
I think the most important thing to realize is that as fans, we hold the most power. We are the driving force behind what gets made and what gets pushed to the side, through our dollar. So I think we have a responsibility to be what I call a “critical fan.”
It’s okay to enjoy more mindless forms of entertainment just for the sake of it. But at the same time, we need to recognize that they ARE harmful and they don’t exist in a vacuum.It’s okay to enjoy more mindless forms of entertainment just for the sake of it. But at the same time, we need to recognize that they ARE harmful and they don’t exist in a vacuum. I also want more geeks to realize that we have to open our mouths and share our opinions on a grand scale, because that’s how change happened.
The diversity shift happening with the Big Two – Marvel and DC, as flawed as they are – exist because geeks said they wanted it. Corporations have to listen to us, not the other way around.
We have to not just say that we want something in our media, but to actually go out and buy it when it does come out. Supporting creators of color and other marginalized folks that work hard to create this more inclusive media is hard work, and sometimes we take them for granted.
Money definitely shows corporations that fans mean business. Right now, what series and franchises do you think are most important to support with our fan dollars?
Immediately indie titles come to mind. I was involved with #BlackComicsMonth, and it really opened my eyes to how many amazing titles there are that have what I’m looking for as a fan. But these folks often get buried behind the more mass produced titles from the Big Two (Marvel and DC) and other more well-known titles. These titles are providing the diversity and quality that fans are seeking, but unless we go out and support them, we won’t have them.
I’m such a fan of Agents of the Realm by Mildred Louis and Princeless by Jeremy Whitley, David Dwonch, and M. Goodwin. They’re both the kinds of stories that I wanted to see when I was younger, and embody the same quality and principles that I try to do with BGIM. There are also great mainstream titles out now that we need to support to keep them going – Ms. Marvel, Bitch Planet, Silk & Spider-Gwen, Lumberjanes, Storm.
You’ve talked on BGiM about more critical topics, like how Flash as a series treats its women better than Arrow, but some bloggers tend to shy away from critiquing or criticizing the franchises they love. Why is it important for you and other fans to talk critically about what we love?
I love getting this question! I love nerd culture – I really do. I love that it gives fans a chance to escape, to feel powerful and in control. We feel like there is no limit to how great we can be, no matter what we look like or what shortcomings we may have. And that’s great.
But media is a reflection on our own society… media and entertainment is another way of enforcing these rules. Nerd culture is supposed to be fun, but it’s also got a real history in breaking away from that status quo and being radical. We can’t give the media we love a pass from this because there are no exceptions; all franchises enforce a status quo.
I think people are afraid of being seen as wrong, and they let that fear hold them back from allowing themselves to be critical. And that’s a cop out. When we are vocal about what’s important to us, and don’t give passes to franchises because we love them, we can make a real difference.
The internet is full of fantastic, diverse geek communities just waiting to be discovered. What bloggers or other communities would you suggest to our readers?
There’s so many! I wish I could shout out every one of my Twitter followers – they’re such amazing people and teach me so much. The bigger names – VixenVarsity, Jamila of Girl Gone Geek, Black Girl Nerds – should be on everyone’s radar, but there are also others like Mia Moore of xoMiaMoore, Connie of ConStarWrites.tv, The Ormes Society, Lady Love and Justice, and Superdames! (all three on Tumblr).
I think it’s also important that if there are new bloggers out there: Get your name out there, follow the folks you admire and reach out to them (but don’t spam because that will get you nowhere). There’s no room for shyness on the Internet. And seek out everyone in the genre, not just the big names. Some of the best connections I’ve made in the nerd culture world have been others looking for the community too.