This was inspired by Stitch, who presents longform commentary on their blog. My Dreamwidth will give you the link.
Narratives matter. It's not inconsequential to see heroes and heroines of different colors, body shapes, ages, etc. Especially now when the political narrative is to limit what is American in ways that have never been true.* I'm the descendent of immigrants. Voluntary ones, though some of them were subjects that had to escape, and others ones that couldn't return.
It's popular to overextend that model, and to further narrow it, whether that's by focusing on Ellis Island or heightening the Pilgrims' experience. It removes 400 years of very real history, and it forgets that this wasn't an empty land. It happens because eliding difference is a tactic that has worked for some. But people don't need to be identical to be equal.
Assimilation was once a goal, that's the Melting Pot theme that used to hold sway. Thing is, people in power can always move the goalposts. Say that you've not become mainstream enough. And it really only works if in the process of assimilating, the assimilated towards moves a bit themselves. The table has to be more accommodating not merely musical chairs.
Fandom is both a space carved from and a reflection of wider society. There are things we do within fandom that would need a whole lot of explanation outside of fandom, but fen can just go with it. It's relaxing to know how the folding chairs get set up and where to put them away. But a welcoming space is welcoming when it doesn't put some people out. And, if people are being put out, they are the ones that get to call it.
Now, online media fandom and transformative fandom before it (zine foremothers) has some tape that's less than useful. Many of us were or are science fiction fans, mystery fans, academics, gamers and whatnot. Sexism has been in those spaces and we've learned various strategies, including making separate spaces. What we've learned less, is taking space within those spheres, and thus perhaps we're not as prepared as we'd like to think, for calls that come from within the house.
It's very easy to believe in utopias when they've been built 'to order' and include others much as oneself. Christendom had religious wars once they started figuring out the big tent of Catholicism included lots of diverging practices. You pull a few threads and heresy is everywhere. You try to reform some practices and everyone is choosing sides. Fandom is a little like the old water cooler or any number of associations that seem old-fashioned, like bowling leagues. It provides a way for people to come together and mingle, without a lot of the strictures of non-fannish life.
Now, I'm going to circle this back to Marvel, because that's where I've been living, and that does mean 616 (comic books) as well as MCU. I love the House that Jack Built, but boy, they might have been able to imagine Black Panther but they couldn't buck trends writing homegrown Americans of African antecedents. Early Rhodey and Sam Wilson have got a lot of Blaxploitation Tropes and I was so happy we got a meaningful update for them in the MCU. Sam Wilson is our 2001 coming of age hero; he has resonance with Steve Rogers' desire to serve.
Yes, we are working with (and against) Canon. But much as fandom has come to embrace that heteronormativity and political aren't the two modes of sexuality, male and political the modes of gender, we need to accept that Canon is being created with limitations that aren't inherent. Recall that plenty of male lead superhero movies have failed, and yet women lead ones are held to a higher standard. Black Panther moved the bar for superhero movies, really, movies. No, it wasn't perfect (CGI train fight, how early did that have to go to the labs?) but it demonstrated how lax standards had been for other works. It went hard.
So, listen when the clue phone rings. That's all I'm asking. Think about times you weren't heard, and don't be That Person. Fandom can do amazing things. And with success, comes power. Use it wisely.*Fandom is much bigger than America. But I'm only qualified to speak in these sorts of generalities for America. And that qualification itself wears a big asterisk.