Luke Cage star: ‘Any Black man would want to be bulletproof’

Mike Colter.
Monday, October 17, 2016

The star of the new Netflix hit Luke Cage, Mike Colter, said the new show — featuring a bulletproof African-American man sporting a hoodie — highlighted the plight of many young Black people in the United States who have been shot dead by police and the decades-long struggle against such brutality.

“It's a nod to Trayvon, no question,” Colter told the Huffington Post. Trayvon Martin was an unarmed 17-year-old Black teen shot dead by George Zimmerman in Florida in 2012. Martin was walking home from a convenience store with skittles and an iced tea while wearing a hoodie.

“Trayvon Martin and people like him. People like Jordan Davis, a kid who was shot because of the perception that he was a danger. When you're a Black man in a hoodie all of a sudden you're a criminal.”

Luke Cage is based on a Marvel comic with the same title which was first published by the studio in the 1970s at the height of the Black Power movement in the United States. “I can’t imagine anything a Black man would want to be more right now than bulletproof,” Colter said. He added that while the show does not revolve around Black Lives Matter, it has many elements relating to the anti-police brutality movement and the struggle of African-Americans in the US.

“The show isn’t just Black Lives Matter, that’s not what the whole show is about,” he said. “That being said, it will strike a chord with some people because you can't help not think about it. The people who are watching will tell us what having a bulletproof Black man means to them.” He said police killings and brutality against Black people in the US was not a new phenomenon but that “the only difference is that now we have camera phones. People are just more aware of it.” For Colter, Luke Cage is a Black man “going through the same thing as other people of colour, it’s just that he has superpowers”.

In the show, Luke Cage — also known as Power Man — attempts to keep a low profile as a working man in New York’s Harlem. But he finds himself caught in a fight against one of the district’s biggest arms dealers and drug gangsters. The production of the show started last year and came amid high-profile police shootings of Black people. The producers of the show and its writers could not help but be inspired by the unfolding national debate and unrest across the country. “The writers aren’t immune to the society that they live in, they are acutely aware and I'm sure it helped inspire them,” Colter said as he recalled some of the news at the time of the filming.

“Eric Garner, the policemen were acquitted. No one was brought to justice. There was no handing out of any sentence. “There are a couple other things that happened during the time we were filming. We were watching the news and it was always someone being shot who was unarmed, and there is no justification for it. It's mind-boggling.”

His comments came a few days before the fatal shooting on October 1 of Carnell Snell, an 18-year-old unarmed Black teen from Los Angeles. Snell’s killing further fuelled the debate on racism within police forces and the targeting of Black people in the US. “That's something we shouldn’t have to deal with, but we do,” Colter said. “It's a double standard. “We can't cover our head when it’s cold and raining because god forbid someone sees us and puts our life in danger. We wanted to pay homage to that — it's not something we were shying away from.”

[Reprinted from TeleSUR English.]

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