Friday, February 20, 2009

Season 2: Saving the Whales

So I’ve been reading Moby Dick. It’s my flight companion, an old Continental Airlines ticket sleeve my placeholder, the hours spent laying over in Charlotte or cruising under an aisle-seat reading light my time upon Melville’s desolate seas. As Cornel West suggests in his book Democracy Matters, the tale of the great white whale is (almost explicitly) an allegorical hunt for the specter of an untenable, idealized whiteness that permeates American society—Captain Ahab, the dual malice for and embodiment of that pernicious white essentialism he seeks to destory.

Though Beau, the protagonist of Cake and Potatoes, has a somewhat different narrative arc, the novel's depiction of the vengeful sea captain struck me as disconcertingly similar. Just as Ahab navigates the watery 7/10ths of the planet raving about his quest for Moby Dick's destruction, so too does onyx-black Beau plunge into the racial politics of the South, "signifyin" as a means to discredit essentialized conceptions of black masculinity. In essence, both characters begin to become the things they despise.

Hence, season two of Cake and Potatoes seeks not like Ahab to destroy these essentialized racial “whales" that consume so many identities. While skin color differences will always exist, hopefully we as a nation will find that to continue to conduct our lives by idealized standards of whiteness and blackness would be nothing more than a farce. This web comic seeks merely to catalogue the absurdity of clinging to these racial conventions—and here's hoping that cataloguing falls far short of saving.


The first comic is below. Enjoy!

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