On Saturday, July 25, the NorcalMLK Foundation's Black & Brown Comix Arts Festival (BCAF) presented a panel entitled, "Diversity and Comics: Why Inclusion Matters", at this years San Diego Comic-Con, which was held virtually this year for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the U.S.
The panel explored The past year has witnessed the birth of transformational change in the social fabric. The Killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery (to name a few) has triggered a response to structural racism that has caused the nation and the world to take stock of its institutions. The growth of more diverse faces on the pages of popular comic books and in feature films has proven to be essential to reflecting the world in which we all live. And, despite the onset of an unprecedented pandemic, the inclusion of people of color, women and persons with disabilities and the LGBTQ community not only better reflects today’s culture, it has also proven good for the bottom line. We brought an award-winning panel together that challenged ongoing issues and pushed the conversation forward. The guests included John Jennings, MFA: Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, UC Riverside and 2-time Eisner Award winner (2016, 2018); Frederick Aldama, PhD: The University Distinguished Professor, Arts and Humanities Distinguished Professor of English and University Distinguished Scholar, The Ohio State University, and 2019 Eisner Award winner; Christina 'Steenz' Stewart: Syndicated cartoonist (Heart of the City) and 2019 Dwayne McDuffie Award Winner; Chelsea ‘Ché’ Grayson, MFA, critically acclaimed animator; David Walker: 2020 Will Eisner Award winning comic book writer. The panel was moderated by popular culture anthropologist and BCAF chair Stanford Carpenter, PhD.