What If … ? Featuring The Dazzler!
Summer of ’79 and everyone’s sitting here eating my heart out waiting
waiting for some lover to call, and Casablanca Records realizes
there’s money to be made so they make some calls, eager to create
another superstar: a triple-threat: singer/actress/superhero. The famous
artist’s son designs her — a black woman leaning over the executive’s
desk in a white jumpsuit with a neckline so low it’s out of view, short
white hair slicked back tight, surrounded by the Uncanny X-men,
though this Dazzler is a far cry from the white girl on roller skates;
this Dazzler is pure Grace Jones fresh off three albums, the next
big thing. But the executives disagree, they want more Bo Derek in 10,
so the artist’s son quits. By the time they turn Dazzler white, things
have fallen apart — there’ll be no record deal or feature film. Not even
an invitation to the Uncanny X-men until years later. Imagine what might
have been: Grace Jones doubling the X-men’s number of black employees.
Cyclops shaking her hand before giving her the tour of the X-mansion,
introducing her to the team before finally letting Storm take her into
an office or attic, or whisk her high into the sky — anywhere they can be
alone and speak honestly about working alongside all these white folks.
Grace Jones would ask how is it really working here? What’s the culture
like? And do you feel lonely sometimes? And Storm would respond the pay
isn’t great, but it’s a good job. And sometimes you get to fly, and see things
no one else ever gets to see. It’s important for us to work in these spaces,
and I’m glad you’re here. I’m so happy you’re here. It’s a conversation
some of us have had before. I did when I first started teaching here.
And the colleague who talked to me, and became my dear friend
over our shared love of comics, had the same conversation when she
interviewed at this same college. She’s no longer here because
she passed away, and I feel more alone than I’ve ever felt in a long
time, because all my friends are slowly being erased, because
even though I own every issue of Dazzler, she’s no Grace Jones.
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