Again and again, Black America has witnessed the finality that comes with the unfortunate pairing of time and place with black skin and a police officer’s fear.
A little black boy, for example, was shot to death for fear that the toy he played with in a city park could spray real bullets. A young black father was shot to death for fear that the cell phone he carried in his grandmother’s backyard, perhaps to make a private call, could shoot and kill. A black incoming college freshman was shot to death for fear that his bulk in the middle of a suburban street could somehow end a life.
And none of these black youths get to come back.
None ever do.
But in Season One of the CW’s Black Lightning, black men, women, and teens, ideas, loves, and hopes — with haunting regularity — resurrect from the dead to, in some form, live on. After experiencing tragic, and sometimes fanciful, deaths: being shot, strangled, or struck with a poison dart then punched in the heart, heroes and villains alike get to shrug their murders off; they’re setbacks, sure, but ones from which they can recover. For a people starved of justice and left to hunger for a world in which their wronged dead loved ones get a second chance, or at least the people responsible for killing them have to answer for it, Black Lightning feels like nourishment.
For a people starved of justice and left to hunger for a world in which their wronged dead loved ones get a second chance, or at least the people responsible for killing them have to answer for it, Black Lightning feels like nourishment.
The hour-long drama is just one among many, such as The Flash and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and, recent additions, The Umbrella Academy and Cloak & Dagger, in the superhero genre, which seems to be bursting at the seams of TV and streaming service offerings. But with the majority of shows centered around nondescript yuppy-filled urban enclaves of skyscrapers and coffee shops with an unexplainable…