It’s finally here! The Latinx Geeks Podcast! The first episode will cover holiday tradition, America Chavez, Marvel Rising, Trollhunters, and Marvel’s Runaways!
Thank you for joining us and share any comments or questions with us using #LXGPodcast on Twitter.
This past week it was announced that Henry Zaga, from 13 Reasons Why, was cast as Roberto da Costa aka Sunspot in the New Mutants movie. Some have celebrated the casting because Henry Zaga is Brazilian like Sunspot. If Sunspot was a white Brazilian than maybe Henry Zaga would have been perfect, but he’s not. Instead, Sunspot is one of the few Afro-Latinx heroes in the Marvel Universe dating back to his first appearance in 1982.
The New Mutants first appeared in Marvel’s Graphic Novel #4 in 1982 and were created by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod. The original team members were Wolfsbane, Cannonball, Karma, Mirage, and Sunspot. Like the original X-men book, New Mutants, would focus on these teenagers as they learn to control their powers and fight villains like the Hellfire Club.
Roberto da Costa aka Sunspot is an Afro-Brazilian mutant whose powers are the ability to absorb solar power and transform it into physical strength and energy. He can also take a solar form which turns him all black, to better absorb solar energy, and gives him the ability to shoot concussive blasts and fly.
Sunspot’s solar form
Sunspot’s powers first manifested during a soccer game where a rival team member hurled racial insults at him calling Roberto a “halfbreed”. This was due to the fact that Roberto’s father, Emmanuel da Costa, is Afro-Brazilian and his mother, Nina da Costa, is a white Brazilian.
Henry Zaga, a white Brazilian actor, being cast to play Roberto da Costa is whitewashing pure and simple. Sunspot’s Afro-Brazilian identity is directly tied to his very origin and the manifestation of his mutant powers. To deny his race is to deny who he is as a mutant,superhero, and as a person; the son of a black man and white woman.
Unlike other heroes whose racial identity isn’t crucial to who they are as a hero, Sunspot’s is. This alone is reason enough to keep Roberto Afro-Brazilian, but it’s even more important when you look at the erasure of Afro-Latinxs in the media. The erasure of Afro-Latinxs in the United States and Latin America is evident when Gina Torres, an Afro-Cuban actress, isn’t cast to play Latinxs in movies or tv shows although she is Latinx. It is evident when you look at telenovelas where white Latinxs are portrayed as rich and well educated while Afro-Latinxs are shown as lower class or are nonexistent. When mothers tell their daughters to marry white men to “mejorar la raza” or better the race. When black hair is called “pelo malo” or bad hair. It’s seen when Afro-Latinxs are questioned on their latinidad and have to prove themselves to be considered Latinx.
The racism and anti-black attitude that Afro-Latinxs face is deeply rooted in history and the belief that being Latinx is being of Indigenous and European descent. While at the same time ignoring the history of slavery and the African influence on Latin America. Even class status during colonialism was based on a person’s parentage; with the more European you were, the higher up you were in the casta or caste system. This also meant that the lighter a person’s skin color the more European they were assumed to be. Although today we do not call people Criollos, Zambos, or Mulatos, people still follow that same caste system.
By casting Henry Zaga, Fox and Josh Boone are sending the message that a black man, an Afro-Brazilian man, was not good enough to be a superhero. The message that to be a hero they needed to change Sunspot’s history and make him white. Sunspot’s origin, with his powers being a response to the racial violence he faces, will no longer have the same impact, if they include it at all. Instead, Roberto will have the privilege afforded to him not only by his father’s wealth, but also by his skin color. Being both black and white no longer matters because he doesn’t look black and would no longer face the same racism as seen in the comics. Fox had the opportunity to give Afro-Latinxs the representation they deserve. A group that is hardly represented in Latinx media and even less so in the United States. Instead of taking this opportunity Fox has opted to take away that representation.
Now, Sunspot will be just another white billionaire who becomes a hero.
This past year was a big one for Latinx Geeks as we hosted our first Invisible Latinx panels at Women in Comics Con and New York Comic Con. We’ve also had the opportunity to be guests on panels at Awesome Con and Flame Con.
But this is just the beginning for us. Our hopes for 2018 is to have the podcast out and ready. Start publishing more articles on this website. Along with even more panels at different cons starting with Clexacon in April. We will be expanding and hopefully will be able to have guests contribute to Latinx Geeks and really make this the source for Latinx Representation.