Social media may be filled with cats, memes, and combinations of the two, but it has also lended itself as a mouthpiece for those who always felt unheard.
In other words, the freaks, geeks, nerds, and transplant Otakus – the people at New York Comic Con – now have a medium with which to express not just their love for their favorite things, but also to lead the charge for outsiders everywhere.
Now that they can be heard in a much more present way, it would seem that the geeks are demanding more and more equal representation.
New York Comic Con 2015 held plenty of its traditional panels on Thursday and Friday this week, but both days also showcased several panels celebrating and discussing diversity within the comic book industry itself, Marvel, sci-fi, fantasy, and even the fandoms themselves.
The first panel I visited demaned and pleaded within its very title that, “We Need More Diversity” in comics. Moderated by Christian Zabriskie, the panel discussed the challenges of comic books past including some of the misrepresentations of people of color in early issues of Archie comics, and even the journey of Vish Singh, who recently went viral after dressing as Captain America with a turban and beard to blend his heritage with the staple hero of the comic book world.
The diversity track continued with several panels addressing a surprisingly varied amount of issues to think about when discussing diversity in geek culture. From current Black superheroes to positive body image for geeks in a world that demands “Body Compliance,” there was something for everyone.
It seems to be no coincidence that at a place like comic con where you can buy a light saber, Japanese hentai, and a Jiggly puff plush, you can also see a trend toward larger visibility for the not so common races, gender identities, and sexual orientations.
That is not to say that there’s still work to be done.
Overall, almost no speaker in the diversity panel track so far have made it seem like the progress made in this era of social media is sufficient. In fact, if you think about it, increased visibility is not the same thing as acknowledgement and that is also not overwhelming acceptance and celebration.
So, at the 10th annual New York Comic Con, what can we deduce about diversity in both the geeks and the “mainstream” society?
Unfortunately, probably nothing that would keep this article shorter than 1,000 words.
But I must admit – there is something absolutely amazing about being able to see a Black girl dressed as Kaneki from “Tokyo Ghoul” chatting about how amazing a transgender superhero would be with her Spanish speaking male friend dressed in a “Naruto” costume.
Rather, the New York Comic Con diversity panels track seems to suggest that the geek world is heading in the right direction.