Friday, February 27, 2009

A Right to be Hostile by Aaron McGruder

In the after math of 9/11, Aaron McGruder's weekly syndicated, comic strip Boondocks changed from amusing anomaly- uniquely positioned to critique black culture- into something more. A lone voice of dissent in a fear induced sea of nationalism whipped into a violent fear induced froth. At a time when even white people were scared to speak their minds, Boondocks fearlessly and repeatedly bucked the pervasive "with us or the terrorists" herd mentality (much to the chagrin of his editors I'm sure).

The strip revolves around Huey Freeman, a precocious ten year old who, along with younger brother Riley, is sent away from the city to live with his grandfather in the affluent white suburbs, presumably for the superior schools. And although both Huey and Riley are proverbial fish out of water in their new town, they couldn't be more different from each other. Riley represents the black urban stereotype, obsessed with the glamorized version of street culture as purveyed by BET, (a perennial target of McGruders ire) Huey, on the other hand is a young radical with revolutionary aspirations. A child in the middle of a world that's clearly fucked up and yet, it seems, there exists a tacit agreement on the part of adults not to acknowledge this simple empirically derived truth. So Huey, acting as the voice of reason, drives the plot with his constant need to expose the charade all around him. With acerbic wit and penetrating insight he does just that.

This volume is a compendium of the strip from 1997 - 2003.

Boondocks is now also an animated series airing, where else, but Adult Swim. Catch it Mondays at midnight on the Cartoon Network.

Here's an interview with McGruder that I found.

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