Super Black places the appearance of black superheroes alongside broad and sweeping cultural trends in American politics and pop culture, which reveals how black superheroes are not disposable pop products, but rather a fascinating racial phenomenon through which futuristic expressions and fantastic visions of black racial identity and symbolic political meaning are presented. Adilifu Nama sees the value--and finds new avenues for exploring racial identity--in black superheroes who are often dismissed as sidekicks, imitators of established white heroes, or are accused of having no role outside of blaxploitation film contexts.

Nama examines seminal black comic book superheroes such as Black Panther, Black Lightning, Storm, Luke Cage, Blade, the Falcon, Nubia, and others, some of whom also appear on the small and large screens, as well as how the imaginary black superhero has come to life in the image of President Barack Obama. Super Black explores how black superheroes are a powerful source of racial meaning, narrative, and imagination in American society that express a myriad of racial assumptions, political perspectives, and fantastic (re)imaginings of black identity. The book also demonstrates how these figures overtly represent or implicitly signify social discourse and accepted wisdom concerning notions of racial reciprocity, equality, forgiveness, and ultimately, racial justice.



Rev. Cecil Chip Murray is a senior fellow of the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture and holds the John R. Tansey Chair of Christian Ethics in the School of Religion at the University of Southern California. He was senior pastor of First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles for 27 years.

One day in the early 1950s, when Cecil Chip Murray was a young officer stationed at Oxnard Air Force Base in California, the warplane he was in caught fire after an aborted takeoff attempt. Murray tried to escape, but the glass canopy over his head failed to open. As flames began to consume the plane s nosecone, he heard a clear, steady voice guiding him to disentangle himself from his equipment and squeeze through a tiny hatch in the rear of the plane.

Four decades later, that same voice which had led him from the military to the pulpit of one of the most vibrant congregations in Los Angeles sent him into the streets as a prophet and peacemaker during six days of burning, rioting and looting that marked one of the most destructive episodes of urban violence in U.S. history. Twice Tested By Fire is Rev. Murray s chronicle of the inspiration as well as the challenges that shaped a ministry widely credited with helping to heal a fractured metropolis. His insights into the legacy of the Civil Rights era, faith-based community organizing and socially engaged Christianity provide timely instruction to a new generation rising to the task of ensuring that the American dream of equality and justice for all is not forgotten.



Erin Aubry Kaplan is a Los Angeles journalist and columnist who has written about African-American political, economic and cultural issues since 1992. She is currently a contributing editor to the op-ed section of the Los Angeles Times, and from 2005 to 2007 was a weekly op-ed columnist – the first black weekly op-ed columnist in the paper’s history. She has been a staff writer and columnist for the LA Weekly and New Times Los Angeles. She is a regular contributor for many publications, including Salon.com, Essence, Black Enterprise, BlackAmericaWeb, Ms. and the Independent. She is also a regular columnist for make/shift, a quarterly, cutting-edge feminist magazine that launched in 2007.



Dr. Firpo W. Carr is a best-selling author who resides in the Los Angeles area, and who hails originally from Watts via South-Central. He is an internationally known author, scholar, lecturer, former radio show producer, former radio show host, university instructor, documentary producer/writer/director, and investigative journalist. He has appeared as an eminent scholar on such nationally televised documentaries as Encounters with the Unexplained: Secrets of the Bible—What Do the Dead Sea Scrolls Tell Us?, and the prime time specials Ancient Secrets of the Bible I, and Ancient Secrets of the Bible II. He has been featured with other distinguished scholars on CBS’s Today Religion, and was the lone guest on KTLA’s Pacesetters. During the debate on the release of the unpublished Dead Sea Scrolls, KCAL9’s Pat Harvey and Steve Jackson interviewed Dr. Carr on his ground-breaking new book at the time, The Divine Name Controversy (Vol. 1). He’s also the author of the perennial best-seller, Germany’s Black Holocaust: 1890-1945.



Christelyn Denise Karazin is a health, lifestyle, business and education writer for such high-profile publications as Woman's Day, Better Homes & Gardens, Ebony/Jet.com, Pregnancy Magazine, Reuters News Service and many more.

Prior to magazine writing, she was a public relations professional who specialized in consumer and legal public relations, and represented such clients as Jenny McCarthy and Dr. Jay Gordon in their co-project regarding vaccinations, resulting in a prime placement on Larry King Live Show. Karazin has over ten years experience placing clients in television, radio, online and print publications, and has an uncanny talent for finding timely news angles to give her clients maximum exposure.

She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications, cum laude, from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Karazin is an active member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and lives in Southern California. She is, most importantly, a mother of four children-three of them biracial-and has been married to her husband, Michael, (who just happens to be white) for (almost) ten happy, hectic years.



A Joel Engel invented cell phone technology. A Joel Engel composed early 20th-century music.  And a Joel Engel analyzes handwriting.  I am none of those Joel Engels. I am the Joel Engel who writes for a living.

I’ve authored or co-authored more than 15 books (including a New York Times bestseller)—narrative nonfiction, essays, sports, satire, pop culture, biography, and autobiography.  As a journalist for the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, among other papers and periodicals, I reported on everything from politics to hot-air ballooning, pregnancy to cancer research, pop culture to business.  I’ve also sold several feature-film scripts to Hollywood and produced about 60 hours of (cable) television. 



Although Gil spent 32 years in the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office, eight years as the elected District Attorney, much of his life has been spent as an urban photographer. His first photo book, IRON: ERECTING THE WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL, (November 2002, Balcony Press), received much critical praise in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and other publications.

The photographs emphasize the contribution of the ironworkers to the building of America, but they also document the beauty of the curved, angled, and bent raw steel of this building before being covered by its exterior skin.

Photographs from his second book, FROZEN MUSIC, (November 2003, Balcony Press), have been featured in multi page features in the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, American Photo, Newsweek, Time, Harvard Design Magazine, California Lawyer and other magazines. Gil's second book is his interpretation of the abstract art created by the finished building. The book is a portfolio of 45 panorama lithographs.



Isabel Wilkerson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, is author of The New York Times’ bestseller, The Warmth of Other Suns. The book brings to life one of the greatest underreported stories of the 20th Century, a migration that reshaped modern America. 

Wilkerson interviewed more than 1,200 people, unearthed archival research and gathered the voices of the famous and the unknown to tell the epic story of the redistribution of an entire people.  She chose to tell the story through three unforgettable protagonists as they make the decision of their lives.



Attica Locke is a writer whose first novel, Black Water Rising, was nominated for a 2010 Edgar Award, a 2010 NAACP Image Award, as well as a Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was longlisted for an Orange Prize in the UK.

Attica is also a screenwriter who has written movie and television scripts for Paramount, Warner Bros, Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, HBO, Dreamworks and Silver Pictures. She was also a fellow at the Sundance Institute’s Feature Filmmakers Lab and is a graduate of Northwestern University. A native of Houston, Texas, Attica lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and daughter. She is currently at work on her second book.



Constance L. "Connie" Rice, the author of the newly released memoir Power Concedes Nothing, is just one cape away from being a modern day superhero. The Los Angeles based civil rights attorney’s tumultuous work confronting the social justice ills that plagued the underprivileged in her community is the basis for this tell all book that allows the intellectual advocate to recount her personal and legal journey as she attempted to quell the violence and corruption that had become the unfortunate trademark of her neighborhood.



Janice Rhoshalle Littlejohn is the co-author of Swirling: How to Date Mate and Relate Mixing Race, Culture and Creed (Atria), now in development for film adaptation through George Tillman and Robert Teitel’s State Street Pictures production company. Janice is editor of All About the Benjamins: Helping People Create Sustainable Wealth in the Midst of Financial Insanity by Melanie Perry (Sankofa Press) and director of the documentary, …but can she play?: Blowin' the Roof Off Women Horn Players in Jazz, currently in production. A career journalist, she writes about media and culture; women and African American issues. She is a longstanding contributor to Multichannel News and Emmy magazines, and was a columnist for the Associated Press and BlackVoices.com. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including the Los Angeles Times, USA Today and Essence. She lives in Southern California.



Gar Anthony Haywood writes successful crime fiction featuring Los Angeles private investigator Aaron Gunner.

Often compared to Walter Mosley or Gary Phillips, other black authors in the genre with devoted followings, Haywood has earned praise for his gritty depictions of Los Angeles and its more dangerous quarters. His plain-talking, wryly observant Gunner has lured legions of fans to the series, and critics often remark on Haywood's ability to toss a trenchant remark about relevant social topics of the day--politically incorrect or not--into his dialogue. Still, noted Booklist critic Bill Ott, Haywood's "treatment of these issues never gets in the way of crisp, character-centered storytelling."



When attorney and author Pamela Samuels Young isn’t practicing law, you can usually find her penning her next legal thriller.  Described by one reviewer as “John Grisham with a sister’s twist,” Pamela is the Essence best-selling author of five legal thrillers. 

Her debut novel, Every Reasonable Doubt (2006), won the Black Expressions Book Club’s Fiction Writing Contest, received an honorable mention in the SEAK Legal Fiction Writing Competition and was a finalist for USA Book News’ Best Books of 2006 award in the mystery, suspense and thriller category. Her second novel, In Firm Pursuit (2007), was honored by Romantic Times magazine as a finalist for Best African-American Novel of 2007.  Murder on the Down Low (2008), Pamela’s third release,was an “Editor’s Pick” by Black Expressionsmagazine and a finalist for the 2009 African-American Literary Awards in the fiction category.



Gary Phillips is a critically acclaimed author of mysteries and graphic novels. Raised in South Central Los Angeles, Phillips grew up reading comics, classic pulp and detective fiction, and the likes of Iceberg Slim and took inspiration from all this when he created his first series character, Ivan Monk, in the early 1990s. A private detective adept at navigating the racial tensions of modern L. A. and beyond, Monk has appeared in four novels and one short story collection, Monkology (2011).

Phillips introduced his second series character, Martha Chainey, in High Hand (2000), and followed that rollicking tale of a showgirl’s mafia troubles with another book and short story. Besides writing several stand alones like The Jook and The Underbelly, and editing anthologies such as Orange County Noir, Phillips has found success in the field of graphic novels, penning illustrated stories such as The Rinse and High Rollers. When not writing, he spends his time smoking the occasional cigar and pondering why his poker abilities haven’t improved. Phillips continues to live and work in Los Angeles.



With continued success on stage, screen, television and music along with her philanthropic endeavors, Sheryl Lee Ralph has never been one to rest on her laurels. A triple threat dreamgirl, Ralph is an acclaimed veteran of film, television and the Broadway stage. Her award-winning work includes creating the role of Deena Jones in the legendary Broadway musical, "Dreamgirls," and earning Best Actress nods for Tony and Drama Desk Awards. Recently, she returned to Broadway for a 12-month stint in the Tony-award winning musical, "Thoroughly Modern Millie,' portraying the sassy chanteuse Muzzy Van Hossmere.

Currently, she is touring the one-woman play, "Sometimes I Cry," a production written and performed by Sheryl Lee Ralph, which explores the lives, loves, and losses of women infected and affected by HIV.



Valorie D. Thomas is an Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies at Pomona College, in Claremont, California, where she teaches literature and social justice. She is completing a book manuscript on indigenous spirituality and sacred space in African Diaspora film and literature.



Douglas Kearney’s first full-length collection of poems, Fear, Some, was published in 2006 by Red Hen Press. His second manuscript, The Black Automaton, was chosen by Catherine Wagner for the National Poetry Series and published by Fence Books in 2009. It was also a finalist for the Pen Center USA Award in 2010. His chapbook-as-broadsides-as-LP, Quantum Spit, was released by Corollary Press in 2010. His newest chapbook, SkinMag (A5/Deadly Chaps) is now available. He has received a Whiting Writers Award, a Coat Hanger award and fellowships at Idyllwild and Cave Canem. Kearney has performed his poetry at the Public Theatre, the Orpheum, The World Stage and others.

His poems have appeared in journals such as Callaloo, jubilat, Ploughshares, nocturnes, Ninth Letter, miPoesias, Southampton Review, Washington Square and Tidal Basin Review. He has been commissioned to compose poetry in response to art by the Weisman Museum in the Twin Cities, the Studio Museum in Harlem, FOCA and SFMOMA. Performances of Kearney’s libretti have been featured in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Europe and he has been invited to speak on poetics in New York, Los Angeles, Mexico City and Malmö, Sweden. Born in Brooklyn, and raised in Altadena, CA, he lives with his family in California’s Santa Clarita Valley. He teaches at CalArts and Antioch.
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Peter J. Harris, founder and Artistic Director of Inspiration House, is an African American cultural worker who has since the 1970s published his poetry, essays, and fiction in a wide range of national publications; worked as a publisher, journalist, editor and broadcaster; and been an educator, and workshop leader for adults and adolescents.

His work has often explored the lives of Black men.

His magazine, "Genetic Dancers: The Artistry Within African/American Fathers," published during the 1980s, was the first magazine of its kind.
His book "Hand Me My Griot Clothes: The Autobiography of Junior Baby," featured a philosophical elder Black man ruminating on life, love, and ethics, and won the PEN Oakland award for multicultural literature in 1993.
His personal essays about manhood and masculinity have been published in several anthologies, including "Tenderheaded: A Comb-Bending Collection of Hair Stories"; "Black Men Speaking"; "Fathersongs"; "I Hear a Symphony: African Americans Celebrate Love"; and "What It Means to be a Man" which is edited by Rebecca Walker.