Melanin Monday: I Am Not Your Stereotype- Racial Representation in Anime [Part II]

Hey, hey all you wonderful Heroes and Travelers out there it’s Monday, and that means another Melanin Monday post!! For those of you just joining us, Melanin Monday is a special weekly post series that I started for Black History Month, where I talk about Black and Brown skinned characters in anime, manga, video games, etc.

I was originally going to end the series at the end of the month, but due to the positive feedback, I will continue Melanin Mondays!! However, another weekly post series on top of all the other stuff I have to write for this blog would be a bit too much for me to handle, so I’m making this a bi-weekly series instead. So expect a new Melanin Monday post every other Monday until I get tired of writing them…

Last week I did a Top 5 List of My Favorite Black Male Anime Characters and this week, since it’s the final Monday of Black History Month, I’m going to revisit a topic I talked about two weeks ago: the representation of Black characters in anime. But, if you all will remember, that post focused on the negative portrayals of Black characters in anime, so this week, I wanted to look at the flip side of that, the positive portrayals!

*Disclaimer: I realize that this is a touchy subject for some people, but I want to let you all know right now, that while comments are welcome, I will not tolerate any personal attacks or overtly nasty comments. If you can’t discuss this post in a respectful and civilized manner, then keep your hands off the keyboard… I promise you I will not be very forgiving of anyone that uses my comments section as such! 😀

Kicking Ass and Taking Names…

One of the most prevalent characteristics of Black characters in anime is how OP they are, when compared with other characters. Now, I do acknowledge that as supporting characters, many will never surpass the main characters in terms of power level, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to kick ass! Heck, I’ve talked about a few of them in the past Melanin Monday posts.

Black characters definitely know how to bring the heat, and while some may see this as a perpetuation of the brute stereotype, I like to see it in a much more positive light. Black characters aren’t inherently violent or brutish, they know when it’s time to throw them hands and when not to… It’s not violence for violence sake, many of the Black fighters in anime only fight when threatened or in the defense of other. They are usually masters in their respective fields, whether it’s hand to hand combat or weaponry, you can be sure that they know how to handle themselves on the battlefield. But, what really sets Black fighters apart, is that they know the value of human life, they rarely, if ever go into a fight without first being provoked. Even the most bloodthirsty and villainous Black fighters, have a code of ethics that dictates why they fight and for that they’ve more than earned my respect!

We Know How To Have Fun…

Okay, so I realize this is the complete opposite of what I said in Kicking Ass and Taking Names, but here me out first… Have you guys noticed that Black characters seem to be the most laid back and easy going characters around? Of course there are always exceptions, but for the most part, Black characters, regardless of sex and/or age, tend to be the most chill folks hands down. Now, I’m not talking about characters being comedians or anything like that, I’m talking about that natural charisma characters of color have that seems to just draw people to them. With so many negative images of Black individuals in the media, it does my heart good to see my people smiling, laughing, and just plain having fun!

Black characters aren’t always hotblooded fighters, itching to jump into battle, they’re just regular folks trying to live their lives. They have friends, families, interests, and hobbies… It’s easy to forget that when all we’re bombarded with are images of Black anime fighters. Hell, I had a hard time finding images of Black anime characters that didn’t involve them fighting or looking like they were about to take on the world single-handedly.

We Make Moves…

So, I’ve talked about how Black characters are capable fighters and how personable they are, but it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t at least mention how intelligent and hard working Black characters in anime are! Black characters don’t just sit back and wait for things to be handed to them, they go out and make things happen.

Black characters tend to excel in all areas, whether they’re mechanics, strategists, technicians, etc., you can bet they are the brains of the operation! They are the doers and thinkers, and while they may not always be at the forefront of things, you can be sure that they give their all in whatever task they are given!

final thoughts

So, more times than not, Black and/or brown skinned characters tend to take on supporting roles in anime. They aren’t leading men and women, they are the folks in the background that either meet an unfortunate fate 10 minutes into the story or they just disappear altogether, which just isn’t fair! Whether they are real or fictional, people of color aren’t disposable, we are strong, intelligent people that deserve equal representation and that’s kind of what I wanted to get at with these posts.

I didn’t write these posts to demean anyone else’s culture or ethnic background, I did this to celebrate the impact Black characters have had on anime and to a larger extent, Japanese culture and media. As a Black woman, the depiction of my people in the media is important, not just for myself, but for how the world views people of color. We aren’t just statistics or racial stereotypes, we are people too! So, I encourage you all to join me, in celebrating diversity in all of it’s forms whether it’s positive or negative, it’s important that we have an open dialogue about POCs in the media!

So whether you voted for or against Melanin Monday posts in the recent Twitter poll, I plan on keeping this series running as long as I can. Because, we have a habit of only celebrating Black contributions to the world in February, when we should really be celebrating them every day of the year.

So what do you guys think about the depiction of Black characters in anime?  Are there some stereotypes that I left out? Let me know what you think in the comments section. If you like what you see, like this post or follow Nice Job Breaking It, Hero! As always THANK YOU FOR READING!!

14 thoughts on “Melanin Monday: I Am Not Your Stereotype- Racial Representation in Anime [Part II]

  1. Great post. I’ve always strive to not live my life based on the stereotypes given to Black Americans. Always swim against the current, I say. It’s nice to see that sort of mindset portrayed in anime even if it’s not a constant thing.

    1. LOL every monday would seriously kill me 😛

      Yeah, dramas are pretty lacking on the diversity side of things, sure they’ll throw in an american character every now and again, but those are pretty few and far between… sigh

  2. I’m so happy you’re keeping this up! Biweekly is a great idea, because I know how tough it is to keep a weekly post going. This way you can keep the awesome melanin powers going, but not sap your energy 😀

    1. Yeah, I liked the feel of the series and I def wanted to continue it, but weekly is just out of the question rn… So this was the next best thing… hopefully lol

      And thank you so much for always reading these posts and commenting!! I really appreciate all of your kind words and support! 😀

      1. You actually reminded me that I can do things biweekly! I’ve been trying to figure out when I would have time to work certain things during the week, and I never even considered doing things biweekly so hooray for ideas.

        Of course♥

  3. This is an awesome series, and I especially enjoyed your posts on black characters in anime! So happy you’re going to continue it past February!

    1. Aww thanks Panda!! I’m glad that folks really liked reading posts like this, since I wasn’t too sure that it would be well received… I have so many ideas and plans for the series, so I hope you keep on checking them out in the future!

  4. I’m glad this is going to be a regular feature. It’s important to me to be tuned into fandom’s diversity, and read up on the positive and negative experiences of people who can’t always see themselves in the mediums they love, and I’ve enjoyed this series so far. Looking forward to (hopefully lots) more of these little insights from you.

    1. Exactly!! That is exactly why I started this series! I wanted to share my thoughts on the way my people are portrayed in the media. I am so glad that you’ve been enjoying this series, I’ve had a lot of fun writing it and I have a few ideas for future posts so definitely be on the look out for those in the coming weeks and months! 🙂

  5. We love that you have a scheduled day of the week to talk about the beauty and strength of melanin characters! The fact you do this is so vital to this community, you raise awareness of their representation in anime, you bring up insightful facts that black characters are portrayed differently in anime, black characters as you said are more chilled out and relaxed, and here at RR we have noticed that too! It is refreshing to see that this minority group is highlighted in this way, especially in the current state of things. Thank you for celebrating black people and their representation in anime!

Gush about cute otome boys~