On December 21, 2016, Jacqueline Craig, a black woman living in Fort Worth, Texas, called 911 to report that a white, male neighbor was choking her seven-year-old son, allegedly in retaliation for the child littering on his lawn.
When Officer William Martin arrived moments later, he began questioning Craig about what her son had done. When Craig insisted that Martin focus on the grown adult who had assaulted her child, he decided to arrest her and her teenage daughter.
The encounter, which was caught on Martin’s bodycam, was the definition of a police officer using excessive force on an innocent person (who was seeking their help, no less) that’s been seen time and time and time and time again.
To be black in America is to understand that you are at a much higher risk of being brutalized by the police regardless of whether or not you’re a criminal. That understanding has played a large role in galvanizing people to protest in recent years and it’s an idea running through the veins of a new comic book series from Ta-Nehisi Coates, Yona Harvey, and Butch Guice called Black Panther & The Crew.
In 2003, Christopher Priest, Marvel’s first black editor, conceived of the first version of The Crew: a predominantly black team of superheroes whose stories touched upon gentrification and historical, state-sanctioned violence against black bodies. The Crew introduced complicated, nuanced blackness into Marvel’s comics canon, which has been largely dominated by white narratives written by white men. And then, after a mere seven issues, The Crew was canceled before the series ever got a chance to get off the ground.