Black Lightning has started up on The CW. It is interesting in that it stands out from other superhero series on the same channel in more than one sense, with examples ranging from how most of the cast are black to how the protagonist starts out as a retired superhero who has since become a school principal. As a result, it should come as no surprise to learn that Black Lightning is more socially conscious than most of its counterparts, meaning that there are some interesting lessons to be learned from it.
Here are five life lessons that Black Lightning is teaching us:
Prejudice Is Still a Powerful Force
For starters, Black Lightning is a clear reminder that prejudice is still a powerful force in the world. It makes this point by showing the protagonist Jefferson Pierce being stopped by police officers because of nothing more than racial profiling, which was actually based on the co-show-runner Salim Akil’s own experiences in this regard. It can seem strange that this is something that people need to be reminded of, but there are a surprising number of people out there who seem to think that the present is perfect because the past was even worse.
Thinking Before Doing
Speaking of which, the racial profiling scene is interesting in that Pierce chose to follow the police officers’ instructions even though he is upset for very understandable reasons, which is made even more powerful because he is super-human. Once again, this is based on Akil’s own experiences, which on one occasion, saw him swallowing his anger because it wasn’t worth running the risk of being killed when he showed it. It is interesting contrast to a fair amount of media out there that seems to think that righteous anger will carry one through all problems, which is an appealing fantasy but nothing more than that.
Violence Has Far-Reaching Consequences
Violence is often depicted as consequence-free in media. Sometimes, this is because it is convenient. Other times, this is because it is part of the appeal. Whatever the case, Black Lightning makes it clear that violence has far-reaching consequences. For example, it is clear that the community is under immense strain because of the violence perpetuated by the 100. However, it is interesting to note that Pierce is no longer with his ex-wife because of his time as a superhero, which put a lot of stress on his relationship with her.
Heroism Can Be Commonplace
With that said, while Black Lightning is centered around a superhero, it is willing to show more commonplace kinds of heroism as well. For example, there are the activists who set out to protest the 100 but ended up getting arrested by the police, which is heroism because they are striving to improve their community in spite of the costs. For that matter, it should be noted that in a very real sense, persevering in spite of tough circumstances can be considered an existential victory.
People Who Share the Same Goals Are Not Bound to Choose the Same Course of Action
Finally, there is a short exchange between Pierce and his older daughter Anissa about what to do about the 100, which saw them quoting the civil rights activists Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Fannie Lou respectively. Said exchange was an interesting reminder that people can want the same thing but choose different paths to reach it, whether because of their different mindsets, their different experiences, or something else altogether. In other words, people who don’t agree are not necessarily enemies but could be just different people who have made different decisions based on their different circumstances, meaning that there are other options besides hostility.