What Colour Is A Hero?

The balancing act of representation.

Steve QJ
4 min readFeb 26, 2022
Photo: Christopher Robbins/Getty Images

I assumed many identities as a kid.

Despite my puny, carbon-based body, I identified with the leader of a group of giant, shape-shifting robots. Despite not being teenage, a mutant, or a ninja, I identified with a group of turtles who battled evil from New York City’s sewers. Despite my brown skin and crippling arachnophobia, I identified with a white kid who could do whatever a spider can.

I saw myself in these characters because I related to their failings and their values, their struggles and their triumphs.

I shared Optimus Prime’s unflinching belief that freedom is the right of all sentient beings. I admired how the turtles never doubted themselves, even when people freaked out at the way they looked. I respected the way Peter Parker struggled and sacrificed to live up to the motto that “with great power comes great responsibility.”

It didn’t matter that I couldn’t stick to walls or turn myself into a truck. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t save the day every week. It didn’t even matter that they weren’t real. These characters represented me. Not because we looked the same, but because they showed me the person I one day hoped to be.

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Steve QJ

Race. Politics. Culture. Sometimes other things. Almost always polite. Find more at https://steveqj.substack.com