Nick Fury: Racist?


blackfury In another attempt to propagate discussion on social issues in the comic book community, I present this scene from issue #4 of the Spider-Men miniseries where 616 Peter Parker meets Miles Morales. Some have remarked that Nick Fury’s response to the knowledge that he’s Caucasian in the regular universe is racist. I personally disagree, but this can be hashed out in the comments section. What do YOU think?

Please remember to be respectful and considerate when posting, as these types of discussions may get volatile.

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(25) Comments

  1. mazda

    Magnificent points altogether, you simply received a new reader. What might you suggest in regards to your publish that you simply made a few days in the past? Any positive?

  2. Nick MB

    If nothing else, I thought it was completely in character for the reliably arrogant and smug Ultimate Nick Fury, which is probably why it didn't bother me when I read it.

  3. CrazyChris

    I respect your opinion, krankyboy, and I understand why you feel that way. I'm not saying only white people can be racists. What I'm trying to say is that there is a different sting to jokes that are at the expense of minorities than jokes than those that are the other way around, and the explanation for that is pretty clear. I can see your point that in an ideal world, no ethnic group would ever be disparaged. Maybe it's a matter of the degree of the harm, or the likelihood that someone will actually be hurt. When you say people who don't share your exact perspective are "hiding behind" something, it comes across like you're assuming that someone who doesn't agree with you has an ulterior motive or is arguing in bad faith.

  4. krankyboy

    It's still one ethnic group disparaging another, guys. If you wish to support that, all while hiding behind the usual canards of "cultural context" and other rather specious arguments (in my view, anyway), that's your decision. I understand the history of the United States has been blighted with slavery and unfairness to minorities. I've also read plenty of biographies and essays on the subject. But honestly, I think it's rather tiresome that we have people who still believe that it's perfectly fine for anyone to be demeaned in a modern society based on the color of their skin -- provided that it's the "right" people being belittled, of course (and furthermore, suggesting that only white people can be racists, while racist attitudes from minorities are perfectly excusable -- which is asinine). For me as a white gay male, the line was groan-inducing. It also strikes me as not being terribly realistic, as the common reaction would most likely be surprise or even a bit of bemusement from Nick, without relying on dialogue that suggests a sort of perceived inferiority of another man's ethnic background. There are so many one-liners that Bendis could have used which would have exuded wit and easy self-assurance in this particular scene, but instead went for the lowest common denominator response. And it came off as juvenile. If we have any hope of achieving a post-racial society, attitudes such as this based on resentments for past wrongs or social programming for political gain (Republicans hoping for years to keep whites afraid of minorities, the left hoping now to keep whites ashamed and minorities feeling oppressed and angry) are not going to help. I keep believing that we'll be better than that. But scenes like this from Bendis, and the arguments supporting it, make me wonder.

  5. CrazyChris

    As to whether the Sam Jackson Nick Fury is being racist in that panel, I guess he is based on the literal definition of the term "racist." But it certainly isn't offensive or threatening. Again, people would take it differently if the races were reversed, and they would be right to take it differently because the context would be different.

  6. CrazyChris

    To those asking why this is not perceive as racist, whereas it certainly would be if the white version of Nick Fury said something similar about the black version, here are my two cents. The meaning of a statement depends not just on the actual words used, but the cultural context surrounding the statement. A black person making fun of a white person based on race is not equivalent in meaning to the reverse because the two situations are not equivalent in the context surrounding them. Black people have a long history of being enslaved and otherwise oppressed by white people in this country. A white person joking about a black person because of race is someone putting down a member of a historically oppressed minority for the same characteristic that is the basis of that historical oppression. The opposite situation simply isn't the same thing.

  7. Thomas Mets

    I'm kinda curious as to what exactly the people complaining that this was racist were saying. A link would be interesting. As for #5, the difference is that culturally, we like it when people have pride in something that makes them unique, as opposed to something that makes them a member of the majority. A ginger Irish Nick Fury could have a similar response to "Uh, Not Irish" or "Blonde." There is also the fact that a lot of white people fought a war because they felt that their ownership of black people was being threatened. And it seems like ancient history, but it's really not. There was a video from my father's lifetime with a guy who was present at Abraham Lincoln's assassination. http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/10/a-guy-who-saw-lincoln-get-shot-was-on-a-tv-show-in-1956-that-is-now-on-youtube/263800/ It's also interesting to consider the Civil War of the context of the birth of Christ (just as an example of a historical event that many consider meaningful). The Civil War wasn't even a tenth as distant. And that's unrelated to the bigotry faced by African-Americans much more recently. If I'm not mistaken, this version of Nick Fury was also as old as the regular Marvel Universe version of the character.

  8. Big Al

    I, er....I admit I found it funny but I probably would not have if it was 616 Fury talking about Ultimate Fury. I don't know. Actually now that we have basically this version of Nick Fury in 616 does that mean Ultimate Fury's dad looks like 616 Fury?

  9. krankyboy

    Honestly, I thought it was a stupid line. It's the type of "humor" that relies on an obnoxious modern day double standard: if Nick Fury from 616 had said this type of statement about Ultimate Nick Fury, there would be lots of aghast pearl-clutching and condemnation from the comic community (and even mass media). But somehow, the other way around is just fine. If we're saying that Nick Fury is the superhero equivalent of Archie Bunker and that's pushed front and center in the story, then I get it. But the purpose of the line suggests that it's somehow "uncool" and -- even worse -- unfortunate that Nick Fury's counterpart is white. And that I find indefensible.

  10. Jack

    Depends on how you define the word "racism." I take it to mean hating or rejecting someone for their ethnicity alone. There are a lot of attributes I dislike about sections of U.S. black culture, but I don't hate blacks; there are a lot of attributes I dislike about sections of white Appalachian culture, too, but I don't hate the mountain folk.

  11. Xanatos

    It's clearly a joke, although I agree, if the white nick fury had said the same thing, it would be pretty different. Never really thought about it that way.

  12. Eddie

    #10 - the pioneer and best of all of them was Lenny Bruce. He was brilliant at showing just how completely idiotic racism is.

  13. Eddie deAngelini

    You can't condemn everyone who comments or jokes about race. If you did, you wouldn't have people like Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Howard Stern or others who openly joke about race to show how absurd racism is.

  14. Steve

    Totally agree with Random Guy. By definition the comment is racist. However, that does not automatically make it generally offensive.

  15. Jack R

    Nah i think he means it in a jokey way because the fans all know that hes alot cooler as a Black Nick Fury what with the success of The Avengers and love the character's getting in this portrayal.

  16. sthenurus

    @5: My parents used to tell me that real racism is when you can<t make fun of someone because of his color or religion. Guess more people are closet racist that openly ok with it.

  17. BD

    It's going for a laugh, but it would have a different reaction if the white Nick Fury said the same line. Why is one funny, one potentially racist?

  18. AndrewC

    Gah... I hate AlterNick Fury (and no, it has nothing to do with race). Are they still doing that ridiculous thing where the Nick Fury in the 616 is now like the Ultimate and movie version through a series of extremely unlikely coincidences and events? Seriously what was wrong with the grizzled Nick Fury who led the Howling Commandos and had friends named Dum-Dum?

  19. Random Guy

    I think that making a judgment of a person based solely on that person's race is racist by definition. But is it a level of humorous prejudice that we're comfortable with? I think we are, and certainly the writer and editors expected us to be. I wonder what that says about us and how we actually feel about racism. Also, there's no way that Hasselhoff Fury would be allowed to say this about Jackson Fury.

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