A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending a reading of The Adventures of Moxie McGriff. If you're unfamiliar with this series of children's books, they were co-written by an 8-year-old girl named Natalie McGriff, and her mom. They started the books after Natalie's mother heard Nat complaining about her naturally curly hair. Nat wished her curls would lay flat, and be as easy to comb through as the women she saw with straight hair. Wanting her daughter to understand the beauty of Black hair, she suggested that together, they invent a superhero whose afro puffs were the source of crime-fighting power. Thus, Moxie McGriff was born.
Attending the reading was almost magical. The audience was filled with young Black girls and their families who were so excited to see a superhero that not only looked like them, but whose powers stemmed from a feature we are often told by the media to "fix."
I've heard from many people (Black included) that no one creating minority superheroes could be successful, because no one would read their stories. Time and again, those people are proven wrong, yet they stick to that idea. The only reason I can come up with for why they continue thinking this way is that they're annoyed they didn't try to come up with new minority characters themselves. Minority stories were kept out of major media for a long time, but we've found ways around it by developing our own communities for the type of work we want to do. It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort, but thankfully, recently it's gotten much easier. Writers and artists like Gene Luen Yang, Kelly Sue DeConnick, and Andre Batts have garnered huge followings. Image Comics has pretty much made comics starring female and minority characters into a business model. Even Marvel and DC have been adding more female and minority characters to their titles. Whether or not those companies provide more space for minority writers and artists to create regularly is another discussion, but having more diversity in the products themselves is a rising shift. With a little perseverance, female and minority creators have carved out their own spaces in the comic world.
The Adventures of Moxie McGriff invites its readers to find their inner Moxie Girl:
"A girl that exhibits a strong force of character, determination, boldness, intellect, and nerve."
Whether we know it or not, we all have a superhero inside. Everyone's inner superhero has a different strength, and usually that strength is what we perceive as weakness at first. As Mrs. McGriff said at the reading, "Our hair can break combs. That's powerful!" It's a bit tongue-in-cheek, but she's right. Think you have a weak trait? Work on it until it becomes a strength. Find your moxie and conquer the world. And that's the subject of today's digital exercise. Get your Moxie on, y'all.