By Nancy Sanchez-Diaz
Bird-watching: That’s what writer Christian Cooper was doing when a white woman called 911 to say that “an African-American man was threatening” her life in New York City’s Central Park.
In the recording of this event on March 25, 2020, he is mostly silent, while she frantically tells police he is threatening her and her dog.
Only a 10-page story, the comic book “It’s a Bird” leaves quite a heartfelt impression, highlighting names we know all too well from the news. The naturalistic images in stark red colors make scenes feel shocking and real.
Cooper’s phone video of the encounter swirled through social media and became an international media focus. That same night, George Floyd died with a policeman’s knee on his neck, igniting global protests.
Cooper, a former Marvel Comics writer turned science writer, details the feeling of being a Black man in the United States in “It’s a Bird.” DC Comics approached him and asked him to write the story for the comic book, bringing him back to work he had not done since the ’90s.
The comic was released on Sept. 9, which is available to download and read on Amazon.
The comic is told through the eyes of Jules, a Black teenage bird-watcher, who is given a mystical old pair of binoculars that once belonged to his grandfather.
For every bird that Jules spots and attempts to take a closer look at through these magical lenses, he views, literally, several victims of police brutality: Amadou Diallo, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
After politely asking a woman to leash her violent dog, she berates Jules, and a dark and haunting tone explodes onto the page. Jules is then surrounded by the ghosts of everyone he’d viewed through the binoculars.
Cooper’s “It’s a Bird” is the first chapter of DC Comics’ new digital-first series “Represent!” meant to highlight and tackle racial-sensitivity issues.
While entertaining to read, “It’s a Bird” serves as a contrast to the painful-to-watch videos seen on the news and social media documenting recent injustices committed against Black citizens.
In light of such civil unrest across the nation, FDU hosted various student-led diversity forums over the summer, encouraging students of color to speak up about their fears and worries. They can be found here and here.