Depiction of a Black Spider-Man is racist because the character dates a White female, professor argues

In a recent Texas Tech University podcast, Bryan K. Hotchkins, a professor of educational psychology, discussed how the movie 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' is 'anti-black' and projects 'expectations of whiteness.'

'His budding love interest, Gwen, is a blond-haired, blue-eyed white girl,' the professor noted.

On the most recent episode of Texas Tech University’s (TTU) “Humanities Now” podcast, Bryan K. Hotchkins, a professor of educational psychology at TTU, discussed how the movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is “anti-black” and projects “expectations of whiteness.” 

The 2018 film features Miles Morales voicing the title role. Morales, who is African American and Puerto Rican, is the first Black person to depict the comic book superhero, Vulture reported around the film's release. 

“This particular iteration of the Spider-Man movie, the ethnic version, is complete with suspense, action, and anti-black sentiment — which speaks to my being completely unsurprised at it being so notorious,” Hotchkins said. 

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The episode, titled “A Conversation with Dr. Bryan K. Hotchkins: ‘My Black is Exhausted,’” was released by TTU’s Humanities Center, which previously announced its "Anti-Racism!" theme for the 2021-2022 podcast episodes. 

“When there’s finally a Spider-Man who is Black and Latinx, he is relegated to sharing a responsibility and the glory of protecting his city — while in every other Spider-Verse, there is a single super Spider-Hero,” Hotchkins stated. 

He also found Morales’ interracial relationship to be problematic. 

“His budding love interest, Gwen, is a blond-haired, blue-eyed white girl,” the professor noted. “As it pertains to the presence of a young black woman, there is not a single character who fits the category.”

Teagan Skaff, a California College Republican and Spider-Man enthusiast, told Campus Reform that he disagreed with Hotchkins’ interpretation of the film.

“If his assertion is that a Black and Latino Spider-Man can only be interested in a non-white girl, I would argue that that sounds racist,” Skaff said. 

Hotchkins continued, “What bothered me most about the movie is how nefarious the expectations of whiteness can be — overwhelming — almost to the point where the clear hero, Miles, completely doubts his ability to save the day, save the Spider-Verse.”

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“He doubts his ability because he is a novice and has had his powers for a minimal amount of time with only the most basic of training,” Skaff said of Morales' Spider-Man. “One of the main points of the movie is you have to take a leap of faith and trust yourself.”

The film’s sequel, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, is set to be released in June 2023. 

Campus Reform reached out to both Hotchkins and TTU for comment; this article will be updated accordingly. 

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