I’m a white, thirty-something woman from inner-city Brisbane, Australia, so when I sat down with a few friends—none of whom are black, let alone American—on Friday night and queued up the first few episodes of Luke Cage, there was more than a little bit of culture shock.
From the various odes to prominent Harlem hip hop and jazz artists to name drops of historically important black activists, there were multiple moments where I felt I was outside the conversation looking in.
And I was, which is fantastic.
To put it simply, Luke Cage isn’t for me (or any other white person). It’s for (and by) black Americans.
This is a rarity in modern popular culture. Even when marginalised groups are represented, the story is often still skewed toward the default demographic: straight, white, cisgender male. We can depict the horrors of the Civil Rights era but only if we have a white saviour. A female character can be capable and intelligent, but there needs to be a close up of tits n’ ass at some point so the straight dudes in the audience can ogle.
Luke Cage could have been about a black man, and still aimed at white audiences, but it isn’t and it’s beautifully unapologetic about the fact.
Which isn’t to say white people can’t enjoy it. I can and very much did. The key is to approach the story with humility. Luke Cage isn’t for me, but it’s being shared with me, and I’m grateful for the fact. Because getting to hear stories and experiences outside my own is fucking rad.