The Black Superhero's Detrimental Influence on the Mental Health of Black Males

By: Ramal Johnson  

The reemergence of Black male superheroes evokes victorious feelings for those advocating for diverse casts in the entertainment industry. However, there is an underlying malignant consequence. Some of the more prominent Black male superheroes are Black Panther, Luke Cage, Black Lightning, Cyborg, Falcon, War Machine, and Bishop. These men share a trait: Their special abilities are their bodies—that is, they use their bodies as weapons. Countless research shows that people typically view Blacks as more physically formidable than other demographics, and that people are more likely to describe Blacks using superhuman terminology compared to other demographics. There is a correlation between this phenomena and the fact that Black males are the least likely of all demographics to seek mental health services. Since the most prevalent Black superheroes use their bodies in combat, they contribute to the notion that Black males can successfully endure more hardships than everyone else can without aid, and that distressed Black males are less derserving of consistent attention. This research examines the relationship between Black male superheroes and the subconscious creed that Black males are practically invulnerable to anguish.

Media, Mass Media, Popular Culture, Representation, Comic Books, Superhero
Media Cultures
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Ramal Johnson

Professor, Humanities, Tidewater Community College, United States
United States

Ramal L. Johnson grew up in an itinerant American military family and earned his BA in Theatre/Film Production and his MA in Mass Communication & Media Studies. After completing a White House internship, he taught communications at Northern Virginia Community College near the Washington, DC area. He subsequently relocated to Virginia and is teaching at Tidewater Community College. Johnson plans to earn his PhD in communications and work in the media industry to help change the habitual depictions of routinely stereotyped peoples.