Yes, The Criticism Of This Deadpool 2 Character Is About Race

Photo: Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage.

It’s going to be a while (nearly a year), but the Deadpool sequel is coming. We’ve already gotten a first glimpse in the form of Zazie Beetz’s Domino to whet our appetites. On Monday, Ryan Reynolds tweeted “Some people just know how to work a red carpet. #Domino #DeadPool2,” with an accompanying picture of Domino perched atop a flattened version of the dirty-red superhero. There have been some modifications to the live-action version of the anti-shero. In case you missed it, Beetz — who played Vanessa in Donald Glover’s hit show Atlanta — is Black, the exact opposite of the chalky white comic version of Domino. The black circle tattooed around Domino’s eye in the comic has been replaced with a white one. And her pixie cut has been replaced with a huge afro. This last detail is what some critics are pointing out as an unacceptable change.

In a collective display of ‘I’m not racist but…’ online comic fans have come out in droves to talk about how distracting and impractical Domino’s hairstyle is as an assassin. The Mary Sue rounded up some of these responses, with a necessary call for all of the haters to have 10,000 seats. While it may be easy to write these comments off as a desire to see comic book characters as true to form as possible, I’m calling bullshit. People have a problem with Domino’s afro because it is a Black hairstyle.

The afro has a rich history of its own. It has stood in a symbol of Black pride and been simultaneously written off as unprofessional and dirty by entities invested in anti-Black respectability. But most importantly, it’s a style that honors the way hair grows straight from the head of Black people. There is no denying or downplaying Domino’s racial background when she has a full ‘fro on top of her head. Don't expect Beetz's Domino to be whitewashed.

As for practicality, it takes someone who has never had an afro to suggest that she wouldn’t be able to fight with one, as if it’s somehow heavier than some straight or wavy style. It isn’t. And it seems absurd to me that the same group of people who can rally around a woman having superpowers that sway luck in her favor can think it’s “unrealistic” that she might ever have naturally kinky hair.

Rejecting Black features while claiming to champion diversity and the inclusion of Black people is a form of liberal racism that I want no part of. Our aversion to certain hairstyles comes with a history. Let’s not mask that history under a cop-out about practicality and accuracy.

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