More Racial Controversy Erupts Over Changes To THE HUNTRESS And WALLY WEST In The New 52

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Since the New 52, DC’s been a mixed bag at best. While most of their big decisions haven’t necessarily garnered a lot of good faith (rampant de-aging of characters, continuity confusions, Wonder Woman and Superman dating), DC continues to try to make steps in the right direction. With the introduction of new characters of color, like the Cree heroine Equinox in Justice League United, there has been a very concerted effort in the past few months to introduce non-white characters, and that’s a huge step in the right direction. However, when DC recently chose to reintroduce some old faces with a new look, fans once again expressed displeasure for a variety of reasons.

Wally West is one of those characters. Returning to DC Comics in Flash Annual #3, Wally is still the nephew of Iris West, but on top of that, he is a troubled young man who meets Barry Allen while tagging a wall with graffiti. But the thing that has caused the most ire is the fact that the new Wally is African-American.

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As many bloggers have said, this introduction is one step forward and two steps back; racial diversity in comics, an arena dominated by white men, is huge, but this cliched background of a troubled kid from the streets is hugely disappointing. Some complain that Wally has, like many other characters in the DCU, been de-aged and is a teen again, thus erasing years of character progression and growth.

There are also a fair share of fans who are upset because Wally isn’t white.

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Bobby Joseph wrote a great piece about the problems with Wally, like his dialogue, which is riddled with dated slang. He also discusses problematic racial issues in the comics industry as a whole, like the fact that all the current ongoing Marvel/DC titles starring black characters are written by white writers. Representation is so important, but representation does not just stop at the level of the character; it must include writers, artists, editors–people who are involved at every level of the creation of the comic.

Wally wasn’t the only character causing a stir this week. If you recall Worlds’ Finest#1, you’ll remember that Helena Wayne happened to steal and use the identity of a dead girl who looked quite a lot like her:

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In the pages of Nightwing#30, Helena Bertinelli made her triumphant return to comics, looking just a little different from how she appeared pre-New 52:

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Many fans are outraged that Helena is portrayed as a black woman. Arguments rang from the fact that DC has “taken” a prominent Italian character away from the Italian community, to stating that they should have just created a new character. Those angered by the change suggest that both Marvel and DC need to clean house and stop trying to be so “inclusive,” and that DC has a history of treating the character Helena Bertenelli so poorly that they “aren’t surprised” by this choice. One commenter posted: “They just ruined the third best female superhero of DC with this. THE [frick]DC? IS OBAMA REALLY SO UP UR ASS ABOUT DIVERSITY THAT U JUST COMPLETELY CHANGED (Stereotypically) THE HUNTRESS? ”

The truth of the matter is, Helena is still Italian. Her father, Franco, made an appearance in Forever Evil, and was portrayed as Italian.

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Though she’s only appeared in two panels, the ire of some fans is incredibly intense. While some try to make apologist statements, like “this isn’t the Huntress I grew up with,” ultimately, these excuses and statements are racist. Having dark skin should not be regarded as being “treated poorly” or getting the “short end of the stick.”  Helena Bertinelli is still Italian, and now she stands often underrepresented Italians of color. All characters have changed in the New 52, but I think this change for Helena Bertinelli is a positive one.

Unlike Wally, whose backstory has already been established, Helena’s story has the potential to avoid racial cliches. Beyond that, this new Helena offers another positive representation of women of color in comics. There are a number of reasons that Helena’s changed skin tone can be a very positive thing for DC Comics, and the pages of Grayson promise to feature Bertinelli as a major player.

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About Author

Ellie Hillis

Ellie Hillis is a Heroine Addict…which is to say she loves super heroines. A comic historian and an aspiring author, Ellie wrote her thesis on the endurance of superheroines in comics, and has been published in Capes, Cowls & Villains Foul and the Gallery of Evil, both published by Spectrum Games. When she’s not reading, writing, or drawing comics, she’s probably watching television comedies, making costumes, listening to nerdcore, or analyzing popular culture.

  • Mercy Grant

    I’m not mad because Helena is black. I am mad because they took an established character who already has several years of history, and changed her race for no reason. I got mad when they completely screwed over Tim Drake’s characterization and backstory for no reason too, and I’m still livid (three years later) that Cassandra Cain and Wally West’s entire family was erased from the universe. And I’m not happy about Wally’s racebend either.

    Americans in general, when they think of representation, tend to think “more dark people,” as if you don’t count as representation if you’re light-skinned. We could have gotten a cool new character who was black or a dark-skinned Italian, and had representation for both light and dark-skinned Italians, but instead someone thinks it’s a good idea to erase an established character’s ethnicity for the sake of making them
    more visibly “not white.”

    Why try to racebend Helena, an already established character, to be black (or African-Italian, rather)? If they wanted to do a racial stereotyping or racism/colorism subplot, they already have ample resources to work with. It’s pointless, except we know DC currently has a horrible track record with race in the New 52, and they’ve been heavily criticized for it. So what to they do? They don’t re-introduce our many non-white characters that we’ve loved and missed (Cassandra) or introduce new characters to step into those roles as legacies…no, they just racebend established characters so they can say “LOOK! She’s dark! Representation!” as if she wasn’t already. That’s not representation, that’s erasure and tokenism, and we deserve better.

    • HelenaWayneHuntress

      1. Your entire argument makes no sense whatsover. You say you’re not mad that they made Helena Bertinelli black, yet your entire complaint is on the fact that they changed her skin colour.

      2. It is still to early to say how much of the character has been changed. This being the New 52, it’s very likely we can expect changes made to her past. That doesn’t mean she’ll be less Italian, less Catholic, or that she may not still embody the character you know and love. Again it’s still too early to tell since she hasn’t had her story told yet.

      3. You are proving the point of Ellie’s article here. It’s one thing if you’re concerned about the way the character is going to be developed in terms of giving her a real personality and not reducing her into stereotypes, but that’s not what you’re doing at all. Your entire argument here is full of racist rhetoric.

      • Mercy Grant

        How does it not make sense?

        Let me repeat: my issue is that DC, instead of re-introducing erased non-white characters or introducing new ones, think it’s okay to simply say “Oh he’s black now! She’s black now! There’s your representation!” My issue is they think it’s better to make an established light-skinned character black than to create new black characters. NOTHING WILL EVER GET DONE THIS WAY. No progress will be made. This is superficial, meant to silence the cries of “there’s no diversity in comics.” If you are not supporting the creation of new characters of diverse races and backgrounds and not supporting your legacy characters that aren’t white and are simply settling for the racebending of traditionally light-skinned characters, you aren’t helping. You’re simply perpetuating the problem.

        The fact that so many people think it’s actually advocating for race equality and accomplishing something by wanting (let’s use another example) a black Peter Parker when there is LITERALLY A BLACK/LATINO SPIDER-MAN WITH HIS OWN INTERESTING CHARACTER AND SUCCESSFUL COMIC BOOK TITLE THAT ISN’T PETER PARKER makes me think how many people are blind to the fact that comic books are trying to actually create unique and original characters without just racebending existing ones, which really doesn’t accomplish much. Racebending only takes away from original non-white characters. It’s not helping, and it’s erasure and tokenism.

        Please note that I was just as outraged at the whitewashing that happened in The Last Airbender.

        Seriously though, is DC just not creative enough to come up with a new character that fits their wants? Are they literally so uncreative that they have to resort to racebending established characters for the sake of representation? What point does it serve to racebend when they can simply introduce a new non-white legacy character to take up the role?

        You should not be screwing with established characters for the sake of
        diversity, but instead should be creating and using legacies and new characters who have the diversity that you want. Screwing with an established character’s race/ethnicity is not cool, and people don’t like it. Most people would much rather have a story about a legacy that was black or Asian or whatever and have THEIR story, not having Wally West’s story being superimposed on someone who…isn’t Wally West, because changing the race or ethnicity of a character does more than just change the color of their skin. It changes the environment they grow up in, their perception of the world, etc.

        Please read this article and then tell me what you think: http://thenerdsofcolor.org/2013/11/18/stretching-spandex-over-melanin-wont-make-comics-more-diverse/

        • HelenaWayneHuntress

          Your real problem isn’t that DC Comics got rid of other characters of colour or that they’re not making real progress by introducing new POC characters. That’s colourful bullshit you’re throwing at me in an attemp to not make yourself to look racist. Your real problem is that you lost the ::white:: woman you identified as Helena Bertinelli for a version of her that isn’t white. That’s literally what your entire complaint boils down. You wouldn’t be here commenting on this article if it wasn’t for that fact. You’re therefore not convincing anyone here that your real problem is with DC’s lack of sincerity for diversity. It isn’t. You’re upset that you lost a white character in a DC Universe full of white characters.

          This isn’t the same problem as whitewashing, where you further erase POC representation by placing a member of the dominant group (in this case white) in their place. Whitewashing reinforces white as normative. Reinventing white characters as POC is an attempt to correct that imbalance. It is actually more progressive than whitewashing.

          If race is not a big deal to you, why does it matter to you then that Helena Bertinelli isn’t white? And DO come up with a better tune than ‘it’s not real progress to erase established white characters in the name of progress.’ That is a tune that every racist person sings when they no longer see themselves represented. And don’t even think of stating that most Italians are white. Shut it. South Italy is full of dark-skinned people, many of which are North Africans. It is also worth mentioning that racism from the North of Italy for the South is a real existing problem.

          • Mercy Grant

            You’re putting words in my mouth again. Please stop. No, I’m not upset because I’ve lost a white character. Once again, I am mad because they took an established character who already has several years of history, and changed her race for no reason. You’re supposing an awful lot about someone you’ve never met, and trying to manipulate my words. My favorite female hero is Cassandra Cain, and I am forever thankful that she exists. Yes, I’m outraged that she doesn’t exist at the moment. I’ve loved her for almost as long as I’ve been into comics (I didn’t know about her immediately). I would not have gotten her if DC’s solution to racial diversity in 1999 was simply to racebend Barbara Gordon and stick her back in the air. I would not have found my favorite female hero if DC’s solution instead of introducing Cass was to simply take Barbara Gordon, color her black, and proclaim it “progressive,” because my favorite female hero wouldn’t exist. Do you get it now?

            I would be just as outraged if they made Victor Stone white. I would be just as outraged if they made Cassandra Cain black. I am pretty irritated at the fact that most artists draw Damian Wayne with light skin (he’s half-Arabic, and both Ra’s and Talia have darker skin, as well as the fact he was originally drawn with darker skin). I am just as outraged that Conner Hawke no longer has darker skin. I am against both racebending and whitewashing because it erases a character’s racial/ethnic identity and does not solve the problem (racebending) and perpetuates and normalizes racism and the erasure of minorities (whitewashing).

            Okay, say we racebend Helena. She’s black. Okay, whatever. Two years down the road, DC reboots again and goes back to pre-New 52 continuity (with some changes, because when are there not changes during a reboot?). Helena’s Helena Bertinelli again, she’s white again, that representation is gone, and you’ve got nothing. What has been accomplished? Nothing. You got “representation” out of Helena for two years, and then she’s back to being white and that doesn’t help anyone, does it?

            Alternatively, say you’re a person who’s just gotten into comics. You pick up “Grayson,” see Black!Helena, and think “This character’s cool, and she adds representation. I wonder if she’s in any other stuff.” *research* “Oh…she’s white.” Again, what has been accomplished? Making Helena black doesn’t erase the fact she’s been white for 25 years. It doesn’t accomplish anything other than a sudden quieting of the people criticizing DC for not having a lot of racial diversity. It’s tokenism, and it’s manipulation, and I don’t appreciate it. We deserve better.

            Meanwhile, you could introduce a character who is black/African-Italian to take up the Huntress mantle while Helena goes off and does awesome stuff elsewhere (we could have even gotten a Helena solo book had that happened). Still Huntress (or maybe a brand new superhero, even), but a brand new character that adds diversity to the DCnU and has her own story, motivations, and personality, rather than just a superimposition of someone else’s. We get a cool new (female) character, we add racial diversity to the DCnU, and we’re not erasing an established character’s history or race/ethnicity. It’s a win-win for everyone.

            Same with Wally. Instead of trying to racebend him (and reintroducing him using a bunch of racist stereotypes), you know what they chould have done? Reintroduce Wally West (as we know him). Then re-introduce Linda Park and Irey and Jai West. Bam. Representation. Or they could have introduced another speedster; it’s not like they haven’t done it before (or aren’t doing it now-look at Danica Williams. She’s fabulous as Flash in Justice League Beyond). Have a teenage black kid accidentally gain speedster powers, and then introduce him or her as the new Kid Flash. It’s not that hard.

            I’m not seeing what’s racist about wanting more diversity that will actually stick around as opposed to a cheap imitation and half-hearted gestures of “progressiveness.”

          • HelenaWayneHuntress

            “You’re putting words in my mouth again. Please stop. No, I’m not upset because I’ve lost a white character. Once again, I am mad because they took an established character who already has several years of history, and changed her race for no reason.”

            First of all, do you not read anything you write? You just acknowledged right here that your real problem with the new Helena Bertinelli is her RACE. Your problem is that she is NO LONGER WHITE. This is racism. I am not putting any words into your mouth, this is exactly what you are saying.

            Second, Helena Bertinelli is a character whose history has been subject to change ever since the character made her debut in 1989. that is to say her history has never consistent. She wasn’t the same character in 1999 that she was in when she first appeared, and she was once again reinvented in 2008 when we saw–yet–another interpretation of her origin. Did you also get mad all those other times that her history got altered because they no longer preserved Joey Cavalieri’s original vision for the character? Did it similarly upset you that Greg Rucka changed the character’s age from 19 to 8 years of age at the time of her family’s murder? Did you also get mad when her parents got renamed from Guido and Carmella Bertinelli to Franco and Maria Bertinelli in Rucka’s reboot? Did you also get mad when her childhood rape and post-traumantic stress disorder were removed from her origin story (as established by Joey Cavalieri) so that Greg Rucka could tell the story that he wanted tell? Did it similarly bother you that Ivory Madison used Greg Rucka’s work to reboot the character’s origin again, instead of referencing the work of her actual creator?

            If you answered ‘No’ to all of the above questions and only got mad at her race change in the New 52, then I call bullshit to your concern that King and Seeley are screwing with established history. That ship already sailed the moment Greg Rucka got a hold of her character and completely rebooted her origin from scratch. If you were perfectly okay with Greg Rucka changing much of Joey Cavalieri’s established history for the character, then you don’t get to complain about King and Seeley’s changes now, especially since we know next to nothing off the character’s New 52 history.

            “You’re supposing an awful lot about someone you’ve never met, and trying to manipulate my words. My favorite female hero is Cassandra Cain, and I am forever thankful that she exists. *I would not have gotten her if DC’s solution to racial diversity in 1999 was simply to racebend Barbara Gordon and stick her back in the air.* I would not have found my favorite female hero if DCs’ solution was to simply take Barbara Gordon, color her black, and proclaim it “progressive,” because my favorite female hero *wouldn’t exist*. Do yo u get it now?”

            This point is completely irrelevant as (a) the scenario you are describing never actually happened post-Crisis, (b) is not even the case now, and (c) does not even address your real concern in this entire conversation, which is the fact that they changed Helena Bertinelli’s race in the New 52. You are attempting to rationalise racist rhetoric with a completely separate discussion. You are not presenting any strong arguments here.

            “Okay, say we racebend Helena. She’s black. Okay, whatever. Two years down the road, DC reboots again and goes back to pre-New 52 continuity (with some changes, because when are there *not* changes during a reboot?). Helena’s Helena Bertinelli again, she’s white again, that representation is gone, and you’ve got nothing. What has been accomplished? Nothing. You got “representation” out of Helena for two years, and then she’s back to being white and that doesn’t help anyone, does it?”

            You are now concern trolling. Your original argument wasn’t that DC Comics is going to fuck up representation of diverse characters. Your original argument is that you feel DC Comics is deliberately changing established white characters for the sake of diversity. You don’t get to backpedal your original position to make yourself look like you care about diversity when you already established that you think this is a bad idea.

            “Alternatively, say you’re a person who’s just gotten into comics. You pick up “Grayson,” see Black!Helena, and think “This character’s cool, and she adds representation. I wonder if she’s in any other stuff.” *research* “Oh…she’s white.” Again, what has been accomplished? Making Helena black doesn’t erase the fact she’s been white for 25 years. It doesn’t accomplish anything other than a sudden quieting of the people criticizing DC for not having a lot of racial diversity.”

            So what? Superhero comics change their continuity every couple of decades and DC Comics in particular hasn’t had a consistent history past 1955. Making changes to continuity isn’t a new concept for them.

            So Helena Bertinelli was white for 25 years. What’s your point? 53 years before her debut, DC Comics had a very different DC Universe where the only Huntresses in existence were Paula Brooks and Helena Wayne. Paula Brooks was a villainess for Wildcat in the Golden Age, and Helena Wayne was the character who originated and defined the Huntress as the heroine that we know and love in the Bronze Age. Her popularity with fans during this time even LED to the creation of Helena Bertinelli in 1989.

            Does Helena Bertinelli’s 25 year history erase the fact that the fact that Helena Wayne originated and defined the Huntress as a superhero? No. Did Helena Bertinelli’s existence in the last 25 years make people forget that she ever existed? No. Did the creation of Helena Bertinelli as the Huntress stop new and old fans from liking her character despite the fact that she didn’t appeal to some of the pre-Crisis Helena Wayne fans? No.

            This is honestly a moot point to make when discussing superhero comics, especially since what came before has never been known to keep people from liking newer interpretations of previously existing characters. The new Helena Bertinelli does not appeal to you because she’s no longer white. Truth be told, many of the women (including women of colour) who were already fans of the white Helena Bertinelli of the last two decades have already fallen in love with her and can’t way to see her in Grayson in July.

            Do not assume that because you take issue with the new Helena Bertinelli being a woman of colour now that she’s not going to still appeal to her fans and newer ones because of her past history as a white woman. You are no one to speak for how other fans will respond to her, and you are once again reinforcing your position that changing a white character to POC makes you mad.

            “Meanwhile, you could introduce a character who is black/African-Italian to take up the Huntress mantle while Helena goes off and does awesome stuff elsewhere. Still Huntress (or maybe a brand new superhero, even), but a brand new character that adds diversity to the DCnU and has her own story, motivations, and personality, rather than just a superimposition of someone else’s. We get a cool new (female) character, we add racial diversity to the DCnU, and we’re not erasing an established character’s history or race/ethnicity. It’s a win-win for everyone.

            I’m not seeing what’s racist about wanting more diversity that will actually stick around as opposed to a cheap imitation and half-hearted gestures.”

            You are not fooling anyone here. You have consistently demonstrated throughout this thread that your real problem with the new Helena Bertinelli is that she is no longer the white woman you know her for, and your last point in this discussion drives that nail home. Your arguments are racist precisely because the topic of Helena Bertinelli’s new race is what came into question when you initiated this conversation, and it has been the point in this conversation you kept going back to. It is therefore disingenuous on your part to claim that you are concerned about POC representation, when at the very heart of this conversation, you are actually upset that DC Comics once again took an established white character and made them a person of colour. That is really what this whole conversation boils down to for you. You wouldn’t even be here REFUTING this article if you were genuinely concerned about POC representation as opposed to complaining about the fact that she’s no longer a white Italian.

            You can dress up your arguments any which way you like, you are not hiding the fact that your issues with this change are in fact racist.

            Have a good evening.

          • Mercy Grant

            You know, I think it’s really interesting how any comment about the changed race of a character is now “racism” rather than being upset that a character was drastically changed for no reason. I’m definitely seeing the double standard, because it is considered righteous anger (and rightly so) when a non-white character is whitewashed, but when a white or white-passing character is racebended, literally any anger is deemed “racist.”

            “Your arguments are racist precisely because the topic of Helena Bertinelli’s new race is what came into question when you initiated this conversation, and it has been the point in this conversation you kept going back to.” The racial and ethnic identities of characters is the whole point of this conversation, so why is it racist that I am STAYING ON TOPIC? This argument makes no sense. The article was about the race controversy, and this entire conversation has been about changing the races of established characters instead of creating new characters. Again, how is it racist that I am staying on topic?

            You’ve called me racist so many times, and consistently ignore any points I make, saying that I’m “making it up.” Why would I make it up? What could I possibly gain out of it, other than you changing your mind about me being racist, which you obviously won’t because it’s freaking obvious you’ve already made up your mind about me, despite my best efforts to the contrary.

            I wasn’t alive when Helena was introduced, and I was in 6th grade when the 2008 reboot happened and wasn’t into comics yet. I wasn’t around to BE mad. And yes, I do get pretty irritated because I like some consistency and peoples’ pasts changing all over the place gets irritating and confusing, and it makes for incredibly contradictory and convoluted storytelling. I’ve already established that I was mad about the ‘Bertinelli is actually Wayne using an alias’ crap and the rebooting of her character they pulled back in 2012 just like I am with the ridiculous character bastardizations of SEVERAL characters that I care quite a lot about (Tim Drake, Jaime Reyes, and Starfire being three of them).

            Helena Bertinelli and Helena Wayne are two different characters, so therefore no, I’m not mad. They are two separate characters with different histories on completely different worlds (Wayne is Earth-2, I think). I was, however, very mad about the “Bertinelli is actually Wayne” thing they did back in 2012, as I already stated. They are two separate characters with their own distinct personalities and backstories, and they shouldn’t try to superimpose one character on the other, because they are not the same character. THAT’S WHAT I’VE LITERALLY BEEN ARGUING WITH YOU ABOUT FOR THE WHOLE TIME. I want NEW characters, not palette-swapped superimpositions.

            This tumblr post pretty much sums up how I feel about the “Helena Bertinelli is actually Helena Wayne” stunt: http://purpleladyofthenight.tumblr.com/post/87701436424/what-really-annoys-me-is-that-seely-and-king-said

            And once again, you’re deliberately misinterpretating my words. Again, what cause would I have to fake my concern over representation other than proving to an anonymous person on the internet I’m not racist? Like, what does that get me, brownie points? I’ll never meet you in real life, I’ll probably never have a conversation with you past this article, and I really don’t care what you think or believe. Why would I care what you think of me?

            Many of my favorite comic characters are a result of a deliberate push for representation and new characters. Cassandra Cain, Jaime Reyes, and Miles Morales were all characters that came about as a result of a deliberate push for representation. Why on earth would I not have cause to advocate for more diversity? It gave me three of my absolute favorite comic characters in the world.

            If you think my concern is fake…well, I mean it’s your opinion, whatever. My concern is not fake, but you obviously don’t believe me, so I’m not going to waste time trying to convince you differently when you’ve so obviously made up your mind already. It would be a waste of breath.

            And yeah, it wasn’t in my original argument, because the conversation…you know…progressed. You know…new points being brought up, new things being said? That’s kinda the point of a ‘conversation’ you know. Restating the same things over and over only takes you so far.

            “This point is completely irrelevant as (a) the scenario you are
            describing never actually happened post-Crisis, (b) is not even the case now, and (c) does not even address your real concern in this entire conversation, which is the fact that they changed Helena Bertinelli’s race in the New 52.” a) it’s an anology, idiot. So sorry you can’t wrap your head around it. b) no, it’s not the case now because Cassandra currently DOESN’T EXIST and Barbara’s paralysis was erased to stick her back in the air (both of which I’m STILL pissed about). c) Yes it does? I made the same argument: if DC racebended a character that was previously one race to be another race instead of adding a new character, I wouldn’t have my favorite female character. It’s depriving people of cool new characters. I’ve argued this point several times now. You’re still ignoring me.

            You’re repeatedly forgetting that I have been advocating for and suggesting new characters since the beginning. Bertinelli does not erase Paula Brooks and Helena Wayne because they are DIFFERENT CHARACTERS. Helena Wayne was the Huntress of Earth-2, a completely separate Earth with a completely different history. She is a different character than Helena Bertinelli (as evidenced by their names and backstories). Bertinelli does not take away from Wayne because she is a legacy character and defined the HUNTRESS role in a different way. Notice that I’ve repeatedly said I would be all for a new HUNTRESS or a new KID FLASH that was not white (or male for that matter, in KF’s case). What I’ve said is I don’t want a race-changed HELENA BERTINELLI or WALLY WEST. They are not equivalent statements.

            “Your original argument is that you feel DC Comics is deliberately changing established white characters for the sake of diversity. You don’t get to backpedal your original position to make yourself look like you care about diversity when you already established that you think this is a bad idea.” No numbskull, my original position is the exact same as my position now: changing established characters’ races is bad. I’ve literally argued from the very beginning FOR ADDING NEW NON-WHITE CHARACTERS. You don’t get to erase that and say I don’t care about diversity when I have offered time and time again suggestions for adding NEW racially diverse characters and have expressed my opinion towards racial diversity several times (that I want more of it).

            My problem with Helena Bertinelli being black is not that she is black. It’s that they erased her previous race to make her black. My problem is not that she is no longer white. It’s that they erased her previous race to make her another color. Had she started out as black, WE WOULDN’T BE HAVING THIS CONVERSATION. You are literally ignoring my entire argument. It’s the fact that they changed her race period, not what they changed it to. You deliberately IGNORED my entire spiel on whitewashing and racebending for this reason and you’re also ignoring that I have been advocating for and suggesting a NEW CHARACTER THAT IS BLACK for literally the entire conversation, because it doesn’t fit in with your precious argument of “oh I just don’t like black people.” I’ve been repeating the same thing to you for five posts, and you still don’t get it.

            So, let’s recap. My problem is not that Helena and Wally are black. My problem is that they erased their previous race to make them another color. I am against changing an established character’s race and/or ethnicity period, whether that be racebending or whitewashing. I’m angry that DC thinks it’s better representation to stick a new color on an old character and call it “progressive” than to introduce new characters of racially diverse backgrounds that have their own stories and complex personalities, and I’m just sad because we could have had two really cool new characters AND Helena and Wally rather than just a palette-switched Helena and Wally (who got a bunch of racist stereotypes dumped into his background in an effort to make him less like pre-52 Wally West).

            Your argument holds no weight because it relies on the idea that I for some reason don’t like black characters or don’t want any more black characters, which I have consistently proven as false by advocating for more diversity and new black legacy characters from the very beginning of this conversation. Calling me racist doesn’t make me so. You can dress up your arguments any way you like, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re just really determined to prove me racist and don’t actually want to have a two-way conversation.

            And you still haven’t answered my question: What have you gained with racebending a white character that you wouldn’t have gained with introducing a new non-white character? What’s the point of racebending when you can simply introduce a new character to take on a role, especially when legacies are such a foundational part of the DC Universe? What does it accomplish?

          • HelenaWayneHuntress

            “And you still haven’t answered my question: What have you gained with racebending a white character that you wouldn’t have gained with introducing a new non-white character? What’s the point of racebending when you can simply introduce a new character to take on a role, especially when legacies are such a foundational part of the DC Universe? What point does it serve?”

            You are legitimately asking this question? You might as well bring a handgun to missile a fight. How about the fact that it actually accomplishes the goal of diversifying the cast without getting rid of fan favourite characters? How about the fact that making an established character more diverse will actually help them stand out more from the norm? How about the fact that a character who is meant to represent a specific group (like Helena Bertinelli does in this case) can actually resemble the group they are actually meant to represent? How about the fact that it’ll actually entice more readers to check out the character? How about the fact that it’ll especially entice DIVERSE readers to actually buy something they otherwise may not have thought of buying? How about the fact that her already existing fans can have one more thing to relate to or love about the character? How about the fact that it could lead to long-term success for the character? I’m not seeing the problem here. If DC Comics or Warner Bros DOES insist on using a white version of Helena Bertinelli outside of comics, or eventually decide to make her white again in another reboot. Is that a problem with the character being black or is that a problem with an industry that is run by white men who make products for white male consumption?

            “You know, I think it’s really interesting how any comment about the changed race of a character is now “racism” rather than being upset that a character was drastically changed for no reason. I’m definitely seeing the double standard, because it is considered righteous anger (and rightly so) when a non-white character is whitewashed, but when a white or white-passing character is racebended, literally any anger is deemed “racist.””

            That’s because it is. There are no ifs or buts about this train of thought. If you have a problem with people having this discussion, what the fuck are you doing commenting on an article that’s specifically addressing the problem of racism in both the comics industry and community? A point that have been consistently supporting by providing shining examples of exactly what this entails?

            That being said, do not pretend like you’ve been remotely understanding any of the issues that have been the topic of conversation here as you have NOT ONCE demonstrated that you do. Your consistent track record throughout this thread is that you have no concept of what racism actually is, let alone understand how it functions as a system that benefits one group and disadvantages everyone else. Racism doesn’t work both ways. We do not live in a world where everyone is given equal treatment, equal opportunities, equal access to resources, equal representation, and so forth. No, mate. We live in a world where white is treated as dominant and normative while everyone else who doesn’t meet this standard is treated as a deviation from the norm. We live in a world where white people and white experience are overrepresented in western media, in western governments, in western institutions, and in pretty much every facet in human life. If you need further evidence of this system in action, count how many white people you see present in television shows, movies, comics, etc, and check to see if there are just as many people of colour present. If you want to go really in depth, next time you go to the cinema, examine what kinds of narratives white people are given as opposed to people of colour, and check to see if you get the same thing. For more practise, go ahead and count the number of white politicians existing in your country and see if there is an equal number of people of colour serving in your country. Do the same for the institutions you walk into and count how many are in positions of power.

            The point being made here is that racism doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is also not one of those things ‘that some people do.’ No. Racism is more than just simple prejudice. It is more accurately a pervasive SYSTEM that grants a white person more privileges by default, and doesn’t extend these same privileges to other groups at the same proportionate rate. This isn’t just true for the west, but in other countries around the world as well. Taking this reality into account, It is NOT a double standard to applaud the reinvention of a fictional white character as a person of colour in media in an attempt to correct this imbalance, and to frown upon reinventing a character of colour as white. The fact is there isn’t a shortage of white representation across all media. They are the most overrepresented group in pretty much every form of media you can think of. As such, racebending doesn’t reinforce racism, it actually attempts to combat it. Whitewashing by contrast does not accomplish the same goal. It actually reinforces racism. These two things are not the same. Racism is NOT a two-way street. If you seriously do not GET this, then you are in no position to criticise any changes made to a character’s race without reinforcing the problem yourself, which–again–you have been consistently doing.

            I am not out ‘to prove’ how racist you are. You are presenting yourself as you are. Your thoughts, your opinions, your attitudes are all your own. Everything you put out there says something about you as a person. Throughout the course of this conversation, you have consistently failed to check your own internalised racism. You are especially not doing a very good job at listening to the points that are being made, and you have consistently been DERAILING this discussion from the moment you decided to post a comment to this article. You are not actually as on topic as you say. Whether you have favourite characters of colour or not isn’t relevant to this conversation because that is NOT what’s being called into question here. What you are being called out on is the fact that YOUR LINE OF THOUGHT ABOUT A CHARACTER’S RACE CHANGE IS RACIST. The point that you keep consistently missing is that your complaints about the decision to reinvent white characters as POC in an effort to balance out white overrepresentation FALLS IN LINE WITH RACISM. The point is you think this is a bad thing and you are especially failing to consider why this development could actually work in Helena Bertinelli’s favour. Instead of preoccupying yourself with needing to defend your flawed position with irrelevant arguments, try stepping back from the conversation and actually examine why your rationalisations reinforce the very problem we’ve been talking about–racism. Similarly examine why this could be a positive development for the character.

            While we’re still on the subject of Helena Bertinelli, if your knowledge of the Huntress’ history is LESS than a decade old, then you are once again in no position to talk about ‘established history,’ which in the case of the Huntress, is complicated and exceeds 25 years. The character first debuted as Helena Wayne in 1977 before she was rebooted as Helena Bertinelli in 1989 to make her functional within a newer DC Universe at the time. You want to have a genuine discussion about messy reboots and convoluting a character’s history? That ship already sailed 25 years ago when DC Comics thought the best way to reboot an established fan favourite character was by changing her entire history completely, and remaking her so that she was no longer related to Batman or Catwoman. Contrary to popular fan opinion, Helena Bertinelli was not created as a new character following the Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot. She was actually created as a NEW ORIGIN for Helena Wayne under the rationale that the character–as she was–could no longer function in a DC Universe where she was the same age as her iconic parents. Power Girl and Fury (the Earth-2 Wonder Woman’s daughter) also got new origins post-Crisis for that same exact reason as well.

            The idea of Helena Bertinelli being a new origin for Helena Wayne also factored into how the character was originally retconned in the New 52 when it was previously established that the character was nothing more than an alias for Helena Wayne, effectively reinstating the original status quo. You can even read the details about this rationale in the Introductions to the Huntress: Year One and Huntress: Darknight Daughter trade paperbacks. The bottom line is the post-Crisis Huntress was a convoluted mess because she was literally a case of DC Comics attempting to develop the character as new and different (Bertinelli) while at the same time getting her to function as a pseudo Helena Wayne character.

            Want three more reasons why Helena Bertinelli as a woman of colour works in her favour in the New 52? (1) It’s a step towards divorcing her from Helena Wayne and establishing her as her own character. For once, DC Comics is actually doing something right given their history with both Helenas. (2) She more accurately represents the group that she was meant to represent, in this case, Sicilians who are mostly dark-skinned people. (3) Her fans are in love with her already and can’t wait to read her in Grayson in July! The only fans who have been taking issue with this change are people like yourself with some serious internalised racism.

          • Mercy Grant

            I’m part Polish. My great grandparents WERE NOT CONSIDERED WHITE when they immigrated to America to get the hell out of Poland during WWI. 2 million Polish people were KILLED and another 1.5 million were exiled during the Holocaust as a result of racism against Poles. Poles have been subject to racism, discrimination, racially-motivated attacks, hostility, jokes, stereotypes, the whole nine yards. And still are today. And so are the Irish, which I have on my dad’s side. They were in CIVIL WAR until less than 15 years ago over this crap. Don’t fucking pretend like blacks and Asians are the only ones that have ever experienced racism. I know what racism is, and it’s not disagreeing with racebending (unless the reasons are anti-black, which mine aren’t).

            You didn’t read what I wrote. You took a typical line from every
            social justice blog ever and repeated it back at me. And yes, there is a double standard: “a situation in which two people,
            groups, etc. are treated differently from each other in a way that is unfair to one of them.” I have a problem because it’s a double standard. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and you are saying that we are not ALLOWED to have opinions and conversations about why erasing peoples’ races REGARDLESS OF SAID RACE is important and wrong. That’s not the way the world works. It’s not about “real hurt” or what you think is okay. It’s now fine to erase ‘white’ people because white people have erased POC in the past? That’s a special brand of social justice vigilante logic.

            I didn’t play the “more harmful” game because I know that there’s wider repercussions for whitewashing non-white characters. I literally said that it’s not fair that there’s a double standard. A double standard is by definition unfair. Racism is a two way street. INSTITUTIONAL racism is not. Racism is.

            “How about the fact that it actually accomplishes the goal of
            diversifying the cast without getting rid of fan favourite characters?” And this wouldn’t be solved by introducing another character how?

            “How about the fact that a character who is meant to represent a specific group (like Helena Bertinelli does in this case) can actually resemble the group they are actually meant to represent?” So she only counts as representation now that she’s got dark skin? Man, and you talk about ME being racist. Italians as an ethnicty consider themselves white, moron. African-Italians and Southern Italians have darker skin. And ethnic Sicilians? Still aren’t black. Yes, they have darker skin than Northern Italians, but they’re still not black. They look more like Greeks than anything. And again: and this wouldn’t be solved by introducing a new character that was a dark skinned Italian how?

            “How about the fact that it’ll especially entice DIVERSE readers to actually buy something they otherwise may not have thought of buying?” Once again, how would this not have been the case had they introduced a new character who was not white?

            “How about the fact that it could lead to long-term success for the character?” How? How does slapping a new race on an old character make them inherently more marketable than decent writing and compelling characterization? If they change her backstory significantly, she’s no longer Helena Bertinelli. She’s a new character with her own backstory and her own personality using Helena’s name. In that case, why couldn’t they have just made her a new character?

            In all of these cases, I HEAR NO LEGITIMATE ARGUMENT FOR WHY WE COULDN’T JUST INTRODUCE A NEW CHARACTER. I hear no argument for why a new character is worse than palette-swapping an old character. You say you want more diversity. Why doesn’t a new character count? You’re an idiot if you think that raceswapping is somehow more progressive than actually introducing new non-white characters.

            You have failed to explain to me WHY I think changing Helena’s race is bad is racist. You just keep spouting the idea of “You just don’t like that she’s black now, racist!” I’ve already established that I don’t care what race she is now, I care that they changed her race in the first place, because I think that erasing a character’s racial/ethnic identity, whatever that identity may be, is wrong.

            And holy hell, you’re hilarious. I said I wasn’t around to be mad, not that I have no knowledge of what they did. You’re acting like I’m somehow prohibited from picking up a comic that’s older than 2009 or that I have no knowledge of her history before 2008. That’s all kinds of ignorant bullshit. This is also the whole “true fan” elitist crap I’ve had to put up with for the past 8 years. Does it matter if I know every little detail about a character if I enjoy reading stuff with the character in it? No. I know a damn lot about Helena (not as much as I know about other characters, but still a lot), but that does not make me better than someone who only knows her from Justice League Unlimited or worse than you, who apparently knows every detail about her history. My knowledge (or lack thereof) of a character does not invalidate my opinions about said character.

            The takeaway is that Bertinelli and Wayne are still two different characters with different histories, whatever the original intent of DC Comics was. They function as two separate people under the same moniker. You wouldn’t call Dick Grayson and Jason Todd the same character even though Jason was pretty much a carbon copy of Dick for awhile and was a Robin, would you? They’re different characters, and so are Bertinelli and Wayne. This line of reasoning makes no sense coming from you because it makes my point for me: make. new. characters. That’s literally all I want. The art of Helena in the article above is pretty. The character doesn’t need to be called Helena Bertinelli. They could have used the SAME ART and simply called her a different name and created a new character.

            1) She didn’t need to be raceswapped to do that. She’s had 25 years of her own development and her own personality and her own history and her own experiences and her own friends and her own religion to distinguish her. 2) Again, how would this not have been accomplished by introducing a new dark-skinned Italian character? 3) This is an issue that’s been deeply divisive amongst Helena fans. To pretend otherwise is stupid. Some people are ecstatic. Others are furious, and most of them are not furious just because she’s black (some are, and that’s a problem).

            Your argument literally boils down to “You’re just mad she’s black, racist!”

            Mine is, “I’m not mad because she’s black, I’m mad because they erased her previous race to make her another color and because DC is acting like it’s more progressive to slap a new race on an old character than actually introducing new non-white characters.”

          • HelenaWayneHuntress

            1. Your first paragraph is completely irrelevant to this conversation.

            2. It doesn’t prove that you understand racism. It just shows you know how to derail conversations about racism.

            3. Your second paragraph demonstrates that you still don’t understand racism, even though I explained it to you in the last response.

            4. Opinions can still be racist. Yours most definitely is and comes from a place of privilege.

            5. I’m a research psychologist. Observing and studying patterns in human behaviour and attitudes even cross culturally is a huge part of what I do. I also live my life, travel, work in professional settings, and interact it with diverse people on a regular basis. I’m pretty sure I know the world better than someone under the age of 20 who has yet to live their lives.

            6. I haven’t failed to explain anything. You have demonstrated that you are set in your opinion and won’t accept any other points of view.

            7. You have clearly never been to Sicily if you genuinely think they look more like Greeks and that there are no black Sicilians. That is NOT what they look like at all. There are also more black Sicilians than there are white, and there are many more Sicilians also do not identify as white. If at the end of this conversation, you’re still not convinced there are black Sicilians, then I guess footballer Mario Balotelli is screwed cause he is a black man born and raised in Sicily.

            8. The Dick Grayson/Jason Todd comparison doesn’t apply here. Dick was still around when Jason came along and the two were created as separate characters by DC. The same was not true for the Huntress. Post-Crisis DC deliberately and systematically erased Helena Wayne to develop her as Helena Bertinelli, while at the same time using aspects of Wayne’s history and character whenever they serviced the narrative. This is a well documented fact in legitimate DC sources.

            9. No your lack of knowledge doesn’t invalidate your personal opinions on the character, but it does give you less legs to stand on for having a proper discussion of her history if you don’t know most aspects of it.

            Bottom Line: It bothers you that Helena Bertinelli is no longer white. Your argument of ‘I’m not mad because she’s black, I’m mad because they erased her previous race to make her another color’ is you saying exactly that. Your logic paradoxical at best, and racist at worst.

            It’s a shame that you think Helena Bertinelli is now ‘drastically changed’ and no longer fits your definition of Italian because she has a different skin colour now. It’s also sad that you’re not willing to give her a chance and are already drawing conclusions about what’s been changed even though we haven’t learned anything specific about her history yet.

            I’m sorry you feel this way. But there are many more people who do not share your ‘opinion’ that are going to pick this up now because they like what they see in the new Helena Bertinelli, and will want to know more about her. This includes a Sicilian friend I know.

          • Mercy Grant

            How is it irrelevant? You spent three very long paragraphs lecturing me on how whites have never experienced racism. I gave you two examples, BOTH FROM MY OWN ANCESTRY, that prove you wrong. If anything, you got off topic first and I was simply responding to you.

            And a place of privilege automatically means racist. Okay. Who’s the one arguing with me about my opinion on a fictional character’s raceswap on the internet when Mississippi just nominated a neo-confederate for the Senate and several neo-fascists won seats in Europe? If someone’s opinion on a comic company changing a character’s race matters that much to you, I think you need to examine your own privilege. Don’t you have something better to do with your life than argue childishly with an anonymous person on the internet?

            And yes: you have ignored me. You have still failed to assert how a NEW CHARACTER THAT IS BLACK is somehow worse than sticking a new race on an old character. You have failed to explain to me why you think it’s a GOOD thing that DC doesn’t seem to think that non-white characters can’t stand on their own, that they need the name and history of a white character to be successful.

            Helena can’t be representative of how a whole people
            looks like. Everyone is different and unique in their own way.
            Representing a whole country means generalizing and becoming a stereotype. The way to solve that problem is…again, by introducing new characters so that we have a variety of people to represent a race or ethnicity, each of them displaying a different side. You want representation but you are not willing to acknowledge that Helena IS representation and that she just hasn’t been the representation YOU’VE wanted. Many Italians can and do pass as white when they come to the United States that are not considered white in their own country. If DC wants to represent dark-skinned Italians, they can do that by introducing a new dark-skinned Italian superhero with her own backstory and her own personality.

            This argument somehow assumes that age equals wisdom. I know a lot of stupid adults set in their ways and refuse to believe anything outside the little box of what they were taught as a child. I know a lot of wise adults that listen and actually consider the valid points of a person’s argument regardless of the person’s age. Wisdom and knowledge isn’t necessarily a function of age. Refusing to consider my argument because I am younger than you is a stupid argument. You are using your age to refuse to acknowledge that I have a valid point: why couldn’t they have created a new black or dark-skinned Italian character?

            And you ignored what I said…again. Whatever the original intent behind Bertinelli was, whether it was to create a character that had aspects of Helena Wayne or not, Helena Bertinelli is her own character. She has had her own personality and her own friends and her own religion and her own stories that separate her quite a bit from Helena Wayne. She is not the same character as Helena Wayne, regardless of what the original intent was. She is a different character, and should be treated as such. She may have used aspects of Helena Wayne, but she is still a fundamentally different character. Just because Helena Wayne was erased because of Helena Bertinelli doesn’t mean Helena Bertinelli is the same character. You’re forgetting that the entire Earth that Wayne was from was erased too. Helena Wayne was not the only character erased and whose main Earth counterpart absorbed some of their Earth-2 counterpart’s story/personality (with varying degrees of severity and success).

            Helena Wayne is the daughter of Catwoman and Batman. Her upbringing and reasons for taking up the Huntress role were completely different than Helena Bertinelli’s. The fact that you’re actually arguing with me over whether they’re separate characters or not is really astounding. Helena Bertinelli is a legacy character that took up the Huntress role. She may have looked similar to and worn the same costume as Wayne, but she was a completely different character with a different past, a different name, and a different personality. This is false equivalency. Legacy characters do not equal the same character just because they wear the same mask. The Helena Wayne of Earth-2 is not the same character as Helena Bertinelli of pre-52 Mainverse!Earth.

            I’ve already stated that I know quite a bit about Helena, more than enough to have this conversation with you. My quarrel is that you somehow think you’re better than me for knowing more about a character. Again, knowledge or lack thereof does not invalidate opinions. Whether I’ve read every single comic she’s been in or just Birds of Prey, that doesn’t mean I care about her any less or that I’m somehow “not a true fan” because I don’t know every single detail.

            What bothers me is that DC feels like it’s perfectly acceptable to slap a new race on an existing character, regardless of what that race is. I don’t care what that new race is, I care that they changed it in the first place. I’ve said this in every single post on this article. You’re still apparently under the impression I just don’t like her because she’s black now. You’ve consistently ignored that I’m upset because they changed a character’s race and didn’t just introduce a new black character. You, like the article, seem to think that disagreeing for this decision for any reason is racist rather than an acceptable response to a seemingly unnecessary and drastic change made to a loved character, especially when they could have just introduced a new character that was a black Italian, which solves all of the problems you seem to think that racebending Helena solves.

            I’m not giving “Grayson” a chance for more reasons than just Helena, man. Helena’s only the tip of the iceberg for what’s wrong with “Grayson,” and most of it has to do with the systematic destruction of Dick Grayson’s character development and his characterization post-reboot. I dropped pretty much every bit of the New 52 piece by piece after being disappointed and outraged at change after change after change and the mutilation of several of my favorite characters’ personalities, backstories, and morals. Nightwing and Batwoman were the last 52 comics I was reading, and Nightwing only because I love Dick Grayson so goddamn much to attempt to overlook the awful plots and mediocre writing. I won’t be reading Grayson, but it’s not because of Helena. She just gives me one addition to the very long list. I’m switching fully to Marvel until DC gets their heads out of their asses and realizes that we want good writing with compelling characters and that we don’t want raceswapped imitations, we want new racially diverse characters that have their own backstories and compelling storylines.

          • If I could interject for a moment, DC has introduced an original superhero POC in Equinox, a new Cree character. Ellie wrote about her here. This is just FYI. http://geekleagueofamerica.com/2014/03/31/dc-continues-its-attempts-to-diversify-with-cree-superhero-equinox/

          • Mercy Grant

            Thank you. I remember hearing about that back in April and hoping that she did well for herself (and praying that she would have decent writers). It’s good to see some new representation for Native Americans, given that there are so few examples of Native American superheroes in the comic world. It’s also good that apparently the creator did extensive research before attempting to write her. That’s always a good sign. How has she fared since her introduction?

          • HelenaWayneHuntress

            “How is it irrelevant? You spent three very long paragraphs lecturing me on how whites have never experienced racism. I gave you two examples, BOTH FROM MY OWN ANCESTRY, that prove you wrong. If anything, you got off topic first and I was simply responding to you.”

            No you didn’t because Hitler’s goal during WWII was white supremacy in the most extreme form. The Poles were persecuted for reasons that had nothing to do with them being white. This is an empty argument that proves nothing and derails the conversation from the main topic.

            “I think you need to examine your own privilege. Don’t you have something better to do with your life than argue childishly with an anonymous person on the internet?”

            1. I’m not white.
            2. You’re still here having this conversation. If you think this conversation is ‘childish’ and that there are ‘better things to do,’ why are you still responding to this thread?

            “This argument somehow assumes that age equals wisdom. I know a lot of stupid adults set in their ways and refuse to believe anything outside the little box of what they were taught as a child. I know a lot of wise adults that listen and actually consider the valid points of a person’s argument regardless of the person’s age. Wisdom and knowledge isn’t necessarily a function of age. Refusing to consider my argument because I am younger than you is a stupid argument. You are using your age to refuse to acknowledge that I have a valid point: why couldn’t they have created a new black or dark-skinned Italian character?”

            No, not all adults get smarter with age, particularly ones who are ‘set in their ways’ and refuse to have their opinions and views challenged. But adults in general do tend to get smarter with age as they start living their lives and acquire more life experience. It is doubtful that you will be thinking the same exact way ten years from now, unless you become one of those aforementioned ‘dumb adults’ because you refuse to have your opinion challenged.

            As for me personally, I do know what I am talking about, you do not. I’ve had ten years since the time I was 18 to learn new things and change my thoughts and opinions on various issues. Believe me when I say, I can recognise when someone has an informed opinion on a given topic and when they do not. I can also recognise when someone is genuinely presenting a solid counter-argument to a discussion that is being had and when they are actually derailing the conversation. You have not demonstrated to have mastered argumentation as a skill and you are actually doing what many people who get called out on their racism do: derail conversations and present straw man arguments in an attempt to shutdown conversation.

            “Helena Wayne is the daughter of Catwoman and Batman. Her upbringing and reasons for taking up the Huntress role were completely different than Helena Bertinelli’s. The fact that you’re actually arguing with me over whether they’re separate characters or not is really astounding. Helena Bertinelli is a legacy character that took up the Huntress role. She may have looked similar to and worn the same costume as Wayne, but she was a completely different character with a different past, a different name, and a different personality. This is false equivalency. Legacy characters do not equal the same character just because they wear the same mask. The Helena Wayne of Earth-2 is not the same character as Helena Bertinelli of pre-52 Mainverse!Earth.”

            Read the introductions to Huntress: Year One and Huntress: Darknight Daughter which address specifically the real reason Helena Bertinelli was created post-Crisis. DC creating her as a new origin for Helena Wayne is not something I made up. How fans perceive the different versions of the character does not change the facts. The new Helena Bertinelli in the New 52 is the first time DC Comics has committed to actually establishing her as a separate character from Helena Wayne without any of the baggage of the post-Crisis version.

          • Mercy Grant

            You have a fundamental misunderstanding of how race works in Europe and how it worked in 1900s America. “Degree of whiteness” is a thing. “The Poles were persecuted for reasons that had nothing to do with them being white.” Say that to the Polish immigrants who had to fight at least 3 different court cases to prove they were white so they could become naturalized citizens of the United States because the US didn’t consider Polish people to be white. The persecution of Poles in Europe is extremely similar to how the Native Americans were treated in America. They were not only persecuted by the Germans, but also the Russians and other Western Europeans, especially the UK. Research psychologist indeed. You need to do more research and less psycho-analyzing. Go ahead. Look it up. I’ll wait.

            Just because you’re black doesn’t mean you don’t have privilege. There are multiple kinds of privilege in this world. A well-off, well educated black person has more privilege than a homeless white high school dropout.

            I’m still responding because you keep talking to me. You initiated the conversation when you replied to my original comment. Stop replying, and the conversation ends. Simple as that.

            My opinion gets challenged all the time, and I respond by acknowledging any valid viewpoints that they have and criticizing non-valid viewpoints. Your view is that you want more racial diversity in the DCU and comics as a whole and that anyone who disagrees with more diversity, specifically racebending, for any reason is racist. I acknowledged and agreed with the wanting more diversity bit, because I want more diversity too, and I gave multiple examples and suggestions for how DC could have accomplished that goal. I disagreed with the “all representation is good representation,” bit and have outlined repeatedly why I think that raceswapping established characters is bad and why they should have just introduced a new character. You’re the only one in this conversation refusing to acknowledge another person’s point of view as valid and trying to shut down conversation.

            …and you’re still ignoring my repeated assertions about introducing new characters instead of just raceswapping old ones. We’re now arguing semantics about what constitutes as an original character instead of actually discussing why introducing a new character would not have solved the problems you claim racebending Helena Bertinelli does.

          • HelenaWayneHuntress

            1. I never said I was black, I said I was not white.

            2. Class privilege is not the same as race privilege. The two things can and do intersect, but being disadvantaged in one aspect of your life does not take away privilege in another.

            3. You are the last person to tell me I don’t have a fundamental understanding of how racism works if you genuinely think that Americans defining degrees of whiteness somehow negates the fact that a white European has always had (and continues to have) more privilege than a person who has darker skin. Racism does not mean what you think it means. Do your research and come back when you have a more informed opinion on this topic. You clearly do not.

            4. You are just as capable of ending this conversation yourself if you are genuinely tired of having it.

          • Mercy Grant

            My apologies. I thought that you had stated that you were black.

            I never said they were the same thing. I said that a well-off well-educated black person has more privilege than a homeless white high school drop out. That is true. Privilege is not a contest. You don’t get more “oppression points” for being black than you do for being homeless. If you are black, you are subject to discrimination based on your race. But you are still better off financially, socially, and educationally than that homeless white person.

            I know exactly what racism means. You obviously didn’t research what I asked you to. Please look up anti-Polish sentiment and the discrimination the Poles have faced. Please also look up the Irish while you’re at it. I feel like you’ll find it quite illuminating.

            I’ll give you a couple places to start. You can look up more reliable sources later if you want.
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Polish_sentiment
            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Irish_sentiment
            http://jamandshockblankets.tumblr.com/post/86230081547/thegirlwhocriedfoxface-insanityisfree

            This isn’t about who’s been MORE persecuted. You asserted that whites have never experienced and don’t experience racism. I proved you wrong. Please accept that so we can move on to other, more constructive points of conversation.

            P.S. You’re still ignoring my question. What is accomplished by racebending Bertinelli that couldn’t have been accomplished by introducing a new character?

          • HelenaWayneHuntress

            Again classism is a separate issue from racism. Discrimination against whites on the basis of their socioeconomic status does not erase their race privilege. I also regret to inform you that the current research/literature on this topic does not support your claim as it has been consistently found that a poor white person is ::far more likely:: than are more qualified and educated black person to be hired for the same job.

            You are also confusing xenophobia with racism as proof that racism against whites exist. People often treat these two issues as interchangeable, but they are both completely separate issues. Xenophobia deals with systematic discrimination on the basis of nationality while the other occurs on the basis of ethnic traits. Like classism, the two things ::can:: intersect, but once again disadvantage in one area does not erase privilege in another.

            Using one of the examples you listed, the articles described discrimination against Poles as a whole group on the basis of them pertaining to another country and culture (xenophobia), but also addressed discrimination against ::ethnic:: Poles, as in people born in Poland who are not white (racism). The last point is where intersectionality occurs, meaning this group has faced two accounts of discrimination, but the latter does not extend to white Poles, who have only suffered from the first problem (xenophobia).

            That being said, his conversation has officially gone completely off topic and is now heading in the direction of oppression olympics. As such, I am officially ending this conversation. But I will end on these following notes:

            Getting back to the main topic of this article, it’s one thing to have ::legitimate concerns:: about how a white male-dominated industry chooses to go about being inclusive of more diverse groups, and another to complain about changing a white character’s race and ethnicity ::for all of the wrong reasons::, most of which have comprised of completely uninformed opinions at best, and reinforced racism at worst.

            It is a perfectly valid criticism to point out that DC’s commitment to diversity is lacking sincerity on the front of actually ::extending:: that commitment to hiring more diverse creators, editors, and executives to ensure the success of diverse characters. It is especially important for making sure these characters get developed in ways that don’t conform to stereotypes and do actually draw in the audiences they are intended to attract. This has been a consistent problem for this company that has subjected them to criticism in the past.

            On that note, it is an equally valid criticism to point out that diverse characters being developed ::solely:: by white creators is problematic since it helps to erase diverse representation. It is also a valid criticism to point out ::problems:: with the way diverse characters get developed and utilised in ways that are negative and harmful to the groups they represent. On that note, it is also a valid criticism to point out the reinventing of a white character as POC as insincere if the way they get utilised others/marginalises them, and aren’t actually given ::real:: character development, but the publisher says ‘but they’re POC now, so progress!’

            What is NOT a valid criticism is reacting to diversifying a previously established white character in a way that reinforces the very problem the effort is attempting to combat, and jumping to the conclusion that they no longer embody the characteristics that made them interesting on ::this change:: alone.

            It is equally problematic to dismiss why this change could actually be positive for the character, and/or ignore the fact that there are diverse people who now feel represented through their favourite character, which is not a bad thing. Some people may not like that change for very valid reasons such as the ones I listed above, and others may also like it for other ::equally valid:: reasons.

            Speaking for myself, I think this change to Helena Bertinelli will help the character in the long-term, especially given DC’s past problematic handling of her character in the post-Crisis continuity. I’ve pretty much detailed all of those reasons in my article that Ellie link in her post, but I will repost it here in case you are interested. If not, I won’t be personally offended.

            http://helenawayne.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/five-reasons-helena-bertinelli-as-woman.html

          • meka3000

            “it has been consistently found that a poor white person is ::far more likely:: than are more qualified and educated black person to be hired for the same job.”

            How about some “reliable” sources to back up this bullshit claim?

          • HelenaWayneHuntress

            I’m sure you have access to a library. Do your own academic research.

          • meka3000

            “I’m sure you have access to a library. Do your own academic research.”

            That’s the universal code for “you got nothing”.

            I’m also not the one who made the claim so why should I have to support YOUR claims?

          • HelenaWayneHuntress

            Because it was you who asked for a source. You clearly have access to a computer. Use it. Research it yourself. Come to your own conclusions. Otherwise you’re not interested in knowing more about the topic being discussed, you’re just looking to pick a fight. You are not proving any points here. You’re just looking like an idiot.

          • Beka

            You have no sources to back up this claim. You made the claim: the burden of proof is on you.

            The only thing I can find is that white felons and black men with clean records have about equal chances of getting hired.
            http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2008/08/09/study-black-man-and-white-felon-same-chances-for-hire/

            There are no studies that I could find that support your claim that uneducated white people are routinely selected over educated black people. Back up your claim, please.

          • HelenaWayneHuntress

            I am not obligated to do the research for anyone, even less so for derailers. If you genuinely want to know more about the topic at hand, it’s on you to do your own academic search. There are over 103,000 published studies on the topic of workplace racism by researchers around the world.

            Blogs and news sites are not the places to go to for pulling up studies that have been published on these issues, even less so since they often misrepresent research findings. Again, you have access to a library, you have access to a computer. Use them to pull up academic journals that have published studies on these issues. Otherwise, you’re not interested in actually being informed on the topic. Move along.

          • meka3000

            “Otherwise, you’re not interested in actually being informed on the topic. Move along.”

            We’re not the ones who opened up the flood gates. You did that.

          • Beka

            I am interested in being informed. That’s why I asked you in the first place. I have researched and I cannot find anything to support what you claim. You claimed something, and it is up to you to support that claim. Otherwise we can throw your statement out the window. That’s how debate works. You claim you want people to be educated but you are not interested in educating. That’s a clear dichotomy in what you say you want and what you actually seem to want. You want the people you’re arguing against to look ignorant, but if you can’t prove your claims, you are the only one that ends up looking ignorant.

          • meka3000

            No I’m CHALLENGING you to back up your claims and to see if they fit my assumptions (i.e. that your source is bias to the point that it would skew its survey to come to THAT very conclusion).

            But clearly you don’t seem to have the spine to back up what you claim.

          • HelenaWayneHuntress

            Derailing a conversation is not ‘challenging’ an opposing view. And, honestly, it’d be a waste in your case cause wouldn’t have the brain cells to process the information anyway. As such, I am officially ending this conversation.

          • meka3000

            “Derailing a conversation is not ‘challenging’ an opposing view.”

            Except YOU are the one who brought this up, not ME or ANYONE else.

            “And, honestly, it’d be a waste in your case cause wouldn’t have the brain cells to process the information anyway.”

            Personal attacks are something used by every person in a debate who HAS NOTHING to back up their argument but DOESN’T want that person to know they have nothing.

            “As such, I am officially ending this conversation.”

            You’ve said that before yet you keep coming back. Funny how that works out.

          • Guest

            Like the people below me, I would like some facts to back up your claim. I’ll agree with Beka: if you can’t back up your claims, you’re the one that looks ignorant and like you just didn’t expect someone to call out your bullshit.

            Poles were not considered white by Europeans or Americans for a very long time. They experienced horrible racism and discrimination. Xenophobia was a part of this, but they were not considered white at the time, and so were subject to racism. However, ethnic Poles today consider themselves white and are considered a White ethnic minority in most European countries. Their genetics match the Indo-European and Western European genetic subgroups. Polish is generally stated to be an ethnicity under the ‘white’ race. You’re using semantics again. Race and ethnicity are not interchangeable. Just because they’re Polish doesn’t mean they’re not white.

            You call racism against Native Americans racism, and what the Poles went through and go through still is exceedingly similar. Why do you not call racism against Poles what it is? You’re trying to finagle your way out of recognizing that whites have experienced racism. It’s not working. Not everywhere is America and your America-centric race theory.

            And yes, we have strayed from the topic.

            You have failed to tell me why my reasons for disliking Helena’s racebend is wrong. You have repeatedly said that my reasons are based in racism, but you have not told me how. My reasoning stands the same: changing established characters’ races is bad, and doesn’t solve the problem. I am mad that Helena’s race was changed period, not what it was changed to, and I still do not understand how a new character would not have solved the problems you say racebending Helena solves.

            I will use a comment from another woman above us who nailed it better than I ever could: “It feels like they’re saying to me minority heroes can’t stand on their own, that they have to piggyback off an established character’s success to be successful. I didn’t start reading comics to be pandered to in such a bullshit way. If you’re going to do minority superheroes DC, do it RIGHT.”

            The above two paragraphs are my argument in a nutshell. Have fun picking racism out of that.

            “What is NOT a valid criticism is reacting to diversifying a previously established white character in a way that reinforces the very problem the effort is attempting to combat, and jumping to the conclusion that they no longer embody the characteristics that made them interesting on ::this change:: alone.” You obviously still aren’t listening and are changing my words to fit your narrative. One, she was already Italian. Again, you don’t seem to count representation unless said character is dark. That’s not the way the world works. She was already representation. You just didn’t want to acknowledge her as such.

            I apparently do know something about Helena that you don’t, since I of the two of us apparently know Seely and King (the people writing Grayson!Helena) have already stated they’re basically destroying her character along with this change. They even said at least twice that this is basically a new character, this isn’t the old Helena Bertinelli. This is a new character who is named Helena Bertinelli, bringing me back to my original point that you still haven’t gotten through your head yet: why didn’t they just introduce her as a new character?

            http://purpleladyofthenight.tumblr.com/post/87905197659/i-hope-one-day-all-these-people-who-have-the

            You decided that I didn’t like the change just because I didn’t like her skin color. You are so distracted by Helena’s new skin color and arguing with the people who are angry about it to realize that they have literally already stated they’re destroying Helena’s character along with this. If you actually were as in touch with this change as you say you are, you would already know that Helena’s personality and character are being destroyed for this, and you would be angry too.

            So yeah. Helena is being treated as a platform for DC to go “Look how diverse we are!” and I don’t appreciate it. We could have had a new character. This Helena basically is anyway. They could have just called her a new name. But no. Because that would mean treating Helena Bertinelli like an actual character rather than an object that they use to fit whatever storyline they need her to fit.

            You can reply to whoever else, but I’m done. I’ve made my points. You refuse to see them. I accept that. Have a good day. We’re finished here.

          • meka3000

            “No you didn’t because Hitler’s goal during WWII was white supremacy in the most extreme form.”

            Yeah that’s why Hitler killed all those ‘white jews’. What a sack of horseshit.

          • HelenaWayneHuntress

            They were executed for being Jews, not for being white. Learn the difference. You cannot use antisemitism as proof of racism against whites. They are two separate issues.

          • meka3000

            I’d so LOVE to see you tell that to Jews. The point I was making was “white supremacy” had little to NOTHING to do with it. It was supremacy PERIOD.

          • HelenaWayneHuntress

            LOL! So Hitler wiping out anyone who didn’t match his definition of ‘Aryan’ (white, blue eyes, blonde hair) isn’t white supremacy in the most extreme form? You are either an idiot with the intelligence level of a neanderthal, or you really didn’t learn shit about what really went on during the holocaust in Europe.

            Yeah, I’m not having this conversation with you. You clearly do not know you’re talking about at all, and you’re just looking to pick a fight. You’re not proving anything here. Goodbye.

          • meka3000

            “LOL! So Hitler wiping out anyone who didn’t match his definition of ‘Aryan’ (white, blue eyes, blonde hair) isn’t white supremacy in the most extreme form?”

            No it is not, it’s ARYAN SUPREMACY in it’s most extreme form. The fact that he killed whites with blonde hair, and blue eyes; who just so happened to be JEWISH makes your entire line of thinking collapse. There are others from non-german countries who had those 3 things yet they were killed by him as well.

            Saying Hitler was simply about White Supremacy is simplifying things too much. Also my late grandmother is from Germany and was ALIVE during the holocaust. She despised what Germany stood for at that time.

          • HelenaWayneHuntress

            Wow. I am genuinely sorry for you that your neurones do not grant you the capacity to realise just how completely idiotic that argument sounds. Critical thinking must be hard for you.

          • meka3000

            Why don’t you tell me why my arguement is idiotic instead of saying “your dumb” then having NOTHING to back up your claim? Otherwise your just wasting your time with posts like that when a post ago you said you were not going to continue this. But I guess you lied about that.

            I’m not the one who buys into the simple urban myth that Hitler simply stood for White Supremacy just because you see white supremacy groups adopt Hitler’s swastika symbol as their own symbol. The truth (much like life itself) is more complicated then that.

          • HelenaWayneHuntress

            There is no point in engaging with an idiot. As such, I’m not continuing this discussion further. Goodnight.

          • meka3000

            What a contribution to this discussion. You’ve said that a handful of times yet you’re still here.

            Maybe I’d respect you if you didn’t have to resort to calling people idiots in lieu of actually backing up your claims.

          • Lau Ming

            Lol another fake scholar. When you’re writing a paper in college or even high school, do you just write whatever you want on it and write at the end “I’m not obligated to do research for anyone.” Horrible debater.

          • GoodgriefCB

            Wow. You’re a real clown.

  • electreffect

    The point that i’m taking away from the article and comments is that if you disagree with the changes made to this character for any reason, you’re a racist.

    • faiz

      thats just bullshit

  • Alice A

    You can feel so detached when it’s not your favourite character who’s had such a drastic change made to them. You can applaud DC for trying to be more diverse when it’s some person who you’ve only ever seen in maybe one episode of a cartoon show or only read two comics about.

    But it all changes when it *is* your favourite character. I’m livid and sickened by what happened to Wally. He is entirely unrecognisable as Wally West and DC shouldn’t have slapped his name onto this kid because he is an entirely new character with no hint of Wally. DC should’ve introduced him as a new character and left Wally to rest until the next reboot.

    Also I’m getting fucking tired of the typical “add a black person” diversity formula. Does no one seem to realise there are more ethnicities…?

  • I don’t instantly think people who are against these changes are automatically racist, but it’s all in the language and what you’re saying. When you react to this kind of thing by saying: “I’m disgusted character x is now black,” or “It’s so disrespectful that this character is now colored,” or “I look at the character they made black and I’m so mad.” Yeah, that’s some racism going on there; it’s making skin color a negative attribute, bottom line.

    When you create a completely new universe—as DC has with the New52—the opportunity exists to make editorial changes, and to bring more diversity into comics. That’s not a bad thing, and it’s not “pissing all over the legacy” of a character, because guess what? That character remains unchanged in the original universe anyway, and will most likely be back, or appear in other media.

    This is a new world, new characters, and new stories. I can’t speak to the quality of these characters or stories—that’s a whole different animal—but I don’t see an issue with taking one or two characters and making them people of color. So Wally West is now black in this universe? Well, so what? The problem, as explained in the piece by Ellie, is that he’s written as a negative stereotype, not that he’s now black. There are still HUNDREDS of other white, young superheroes. That demo is still well-represented. How many white female superheroes with long black hair are there? Yep, still dozens.

    • meka3000

      “That character remains unchanged in the original universe anyway”

      Except the original universe is now GONE, and seemingly never happened.

      “and will most likely be back, or appear in other media.”

      Can I have the crystal ball you used to foresee this? Even IF the “original take” appears in other media. If the take that is a POC is not used then the producer/writer/whatever, is going to get called a racist by people claiming that they’re not giving POC a chance in a bigger media outlet then comics.

      • I don’t have a crystal ball, I just have 30-plus years experience reading and researching and writing about comics and that tells me one thing – nothing is permanent except Superman’s trunks. Oh, wait…

  • Janice

    I’m a black woman, and I hate that they did this. It feels like they’re saying to me minority heroes can’t stand on their own, that they have to piggyback off an established character’s success to be successful. I didn’t start reading comics to be pandered to in such a bullshit way. If you’re going to do minority superheroes DC, do it RIGHT.

  • meka3000

    Question, why would a non-black woman be passing herself off as a black woman all this time, IF Helena Wayne used Helena Bertenelli’s name?

  • John

    The problem isn’t that they made Flash black, it’s that they made Wally West black.
    The right way to do it has already been done: Danica Williams, the Flash of the Batman Beyond universe, is not only black but a woman, but isn’t profoundly irritating because she’s an entirely new character, not just another character painted brown and given different genitalia.
    So of course, I’ve never heard anyone talking about her.

  • wowlock

    Can you stop pointing out that this is about race ? The problem is the character assasination DC is doing with these beloved characters.

    I have no problem having black, asian or any type of character , hell we have tons of aliens. What I have problem with is changing these already beloved and close to iconic characters ( Wally West was THE Flash of the animated DC world ) that when I look at them now , all I see is a totally different character just having the name for attention’s sake.

    If you want to diversify , do it, more power to you..but why don’t you make NEW characters instead of changing almost everything about a character people know and love.

  • Felipe Franco

    Mafia is very racist, it’s hard to believe that a mob boss has a black daughter

  • michael

    Wally west had always been my all time favourite hero ever since I first watched him on Justice League animated series, its who I grew up with it who I idolise, but if say I don’t like this new wally I get called a ”racist”. DC you have made what was once a loyal fan now have to hide his views for fear of being attacked, and that is just wrong. I want my green eyed red haired speedster back>

  • Robert Sleeth

    My view is, if you want diversity, create new characters, don’t mess around with already established characters. You’re just going to piss people off. The one superhero that got me back into comics (until DC ruined it with the new 52) was Cassandra Cain, female asian. Loved her as Batgirl and Blackbat but they just ruined the character and have done nothing with her since.

  • Joe G

    First off Ellie, she is not Italian, but Sicilian!!! That shows how ignorant and disrespectful you are to the culture right of the bat! Second, please tell me how Sicilians and Italians are well represented!!??? Can you please name any for me? Oh Huntress, and look at the stereotype she is from a Sicilian crime family and kills catholic priest.. The Punisher, the man who was so ashamed of his Italian heritage that he changed his Italian last name into an Anglophile name!! Please name another and one that has no ties to Mafia!! Look how often Italians have had to change their last names, which would be unheard of today!! WHat does a dumb Millennial privileged WHite racist know about Italian and SIcilian culture.. NOTHING!!! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Italianism#Further_reading https://books.google.com/books?id=hWkQNm6MOxQC&pg=PP1&dq=On+Persecution,+Identity+%26+Activisim&ei=CifeRvWdJ6WQ7wLv-f3LDw&sig=AA4wPK8NNR2OIVAom9_h9QDC4L0. http://news.psu.edu/story/140775/2004/05/01/research/dark-legacy. https://books.google.com/books?id=ube8O40i07wC&pg=PA7#v=onepage&q&f=false. http://www.crescentcitylynchings.com/. NOW look how many Black heroes there are compared to Italians!! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_black_superheroes vs. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Italian_and_Italian-American_superheroes_and_villains, and not only that notice how many are not created by Americans and look how many are villians!! You’re a pathetic liberal mess and should understand that even though Sicily is in Western Europe, we have faced continuous racism, prejudice, stereotypes and discrimination along with ridicule, violence and ignorance (Ellie Hillis, perfect example ). I’m sure becaue you’re a Liberal you’ll censor my speech since that is what Liberals want is to take away all disagreeing views.. The hypocrisy!! Unbelievable!!