Imagine there was a secret key that could give your blind or visually impaired child inner strength for life.
Let me tell you a story.
Bill Campbell was a black kid growing up in an all-white community in the Pittsburgh during the seventies. Here’s how he describes his feelings: “It seemed that people spent a lot of time telling me all the things I can’t do: you can’t live in this neighborhood; you can’t go to this school; you can’t do well in school; you can’t go to college; you can’t be a writer… I often felt like I was imprisoned in the Land of Can’t.”
His mother gave him comic books. Most of all he liked The Falcon, The Black Panther, and Luke Cage: all were black heroes. In his own words: “Comics gave me the chance to explore a world, ever so briefly, where fantastical things such as flying were possible, a world where the Land of Can’t could never be found on the map.”
He concludes, “I owe comics everything—they set me on my life’s path, expanded my horizons, and provided my exit visa out of the Land of Can’t. I haven’t been back since.”
Today Bill is an author of 3 books and a publisher.
Let me tell you another story.
Tara was a comic book fan who met a lot of casual and targeted sexism aimed at her. “I went through a lot of anger and other negative emotions,” she says.
When Marvel (a major comic book company) came out with a female version of its classic superhero, Thor, “it felt very validating,” she explains. “A lot of the ideals that my favorite Marvel characters stand for suddenly became very real. It means a lot to feel represented.”
Today Tara is the senior editor of The Geek Initiative, an online community celebrating women in geek culture.
Now meet Lily.
Lily is a strong, lesbian woman who discovered Kate Kane, the new Batwoman. Here’s how she describes the first instant she saw Batwoman, “Strong. Defiant. Lesbian. That was it!”
As a result, she says, “It gave me the push I needed to “soldier on” every time I start to waver.”
Okay. One last story, about two sisters and a father, and then I’ll put it all together.
Berny and Erica are two young women who grew up to a father, Pascus Smith. Pascus loves comic books and passed on that love, big time. Berny says, “Comics made me feel like if I just push myself to be the best I can be and not ever give up, I will reach any goal I set my mind to. I’m overjoyed that my father introduced comics to me.”
Erica, her sister, says, “Heroes are awesome they fight daily for the betterment of mankind. That is what I love and inspires me from comics. I try to do and be my best most of the time. I even speak up for those who are too shy or afraid to speak up.”
And here’s what Pascus, the father, had to say: “If I was hurt playing football I would think of the pain a hero went through and kept going, then I would suck it up and keep playing.”
There are literally hundreds of thousands of stories like this around the world.
Over the last year I’ve interviewed more than a hundred people about their comic book experience. Each had a different story, a different life. But one thing was clear: Comics empowered them all (me, too, by the way: that’s how I knew to look for it).
And through it all, a pattern emerged: if a child was black, like Bill, he felt empowered by black heroes. Girls were more empowered by female heroes. Gays and lesbians were empowered by gay and lesbian heroes. And so on.
Kids are empowered by heroes who are like them. And they carry that feeling of empowerment throughout their lives. As you’ve seen in the stories above.
If you’re reading this, I’m guessing your child is blind or visually impaired or you know someone who is. Sadly, the empowering ability of comic books is not available for blind or visually impaired kids.
The Comics Empower website is a digital store with comic books for the blind and the visually impaired. The comics are translated to audio in a way that gives the listeners the feeling of reading a comic book, with descriptions that do not stop the flow of the story.
But that’s not enough. Comic books are empowering, but they would be so much more empowering if your kids could see themselves in the heroes.
Aurora is a comic book with a blind hero.
Daniel Price was blinded in battle. Yet he is the only man who can save Earth, the only man who can activate an ancient robot fighting machine, called Aurora. He can no longer fly it properly, since he can’t see. And he can’t aim properly for the same reason. But the Aurora is the only weapon who will save the Earth. Daniel will just have to find a way to be a hero.
Aurora is for kids ages 9 and up, but will be enjoyed just as well by teenagers and adults.
Here are 3 things I promise Aurora will always be true about Aurora:
1) The good guys will win. Of course they will. There may be hard times in-between, but the good guys will win. That’s how empowerment works.
2) Daniel will never ever regain his sight. Blind kids can’t, and neither can he.
3) Daniel will never ever develop a kind of sixth sense that will allow him to magically ‘see’ what’s going on around him. Nope. Daniel is blind. And he will have to deal as a blind person. And he will find a way to be a hero.
Aurora is here to give your kid superpowers.
It is here to empower your child. It is here to lift your child up and teach him or her that s/he can be a hero, too!
It is here to give your kid strength s/he’ll carry for the rest of his/her life!
Every month, a new issue of Aurora appears at the Comics Empower store.