Since its release on Friday, Marvel’s Luke Cage has been hotly debated among Marvel fans. Some (racist) fans have critiqued the show for being “too Black”…whatever that means. Truthfully, we haven’t seen a Black hero like Luke Cage on television since, perhaps, Static Shock aired on Kids WB.

Producing a show with a predominantly Black cast and team gives Luke Cage the ability to comment on certain issues which other shows don’t have the cultural clout to explore. One of the many issues touched on in Luke Cage is the use of the n-word within the Black community. By not picking an actual side in the debate, the show speaks volumes in its representation of differing opinions which occur within the Black community.

Luke Cage, specifically, doesn’t like the use of the n-word at all, and he reiterates throughout the show that he’d prefer if others don’t say it. There are some who feel that Luke Cage is problematic — focusing on a brand of respectability politics that’s become highly outdated. These progressive critics feel that as the hero of the show, Luke’s anger toward those who call him the n-word negatively depicts any use of the word as the opposite of heroism. Because Luke Cage feels a certain way about “reclaiming” the term, the show, effectively, agrees with that point. Nevertheless, there are characters, like Cottonmouth, who casually use the word in regular conversation, though he’s depicted as villainous.

However, Luke not approving of anyone using the n-word doesn’t necessarily illustrate any implicit bias on the part of the writing staff. Luke, as he’s appeared in comics, has always been an old-school, southern, humble, quiet, Black man. He legitimately doesn’t seem like the type to use the n-word, and him using it would actually run contrary to his character.

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Most importantly, Luke Cage avoids depicting Black people as a monolith, and that’s the best possible scenario for a show seeking to represent, and reach, the Black community. Our society likes generalizations, as evidenced by Donald Trump’s use of “The Blacks” and “The Mexicans”, but we’re individuals with our own personal beliefs and feelings towards a whole array of issues. The arguments, on each side, regarding the use of the n-word are fair, and Luke Cage accurately portrays how the Black community views the issue: as a point of debate. We’re divided on it. An old-head, Black man like Luke Cage will always denounce the use of it, and that’s just part of reflecting our values back to us.

Whether or not it’s wrong to use among members of the community, I personally don’t know. One thing we can agree on, though, is that people outside the Black community should exercise caution in their use of the n-word among Black people. Say it around the wrong person and you might catch a Luke Cage-style kick to the chest.

Photos via Reddit, Giphy