The Walking Dead: Zombie Apocalypse Race Relations


Spoiler alert! If you haven’t seen episode 14 from Sunday, March 15th or Monday, March 16 outside the US, please stop reading now!

The Walking Dead’s most recent gruesome and emotional death has sparked more conversation on the internet about race and The Walking Dead. This is the third major African American character death this season, the other major death of our group being Beth Greene, a death which spawned internet petitions to bring her back, fans were so upset with her death.

But I want to talk about the issue of race and The Walking Dead. I don’t want to talk about it the same old way. I don’t want to talk numbers. I don’t want to defend. I don’t want to prove anything. I just want to point out what positives do exist. I don’t make the show. I just love the show. I can’t defend decisions I didn’t make. I can’t prove something I don’t know is or isn’t true. Numbers don’t change perception. I don’t have the experience of losing one more representation of myself on screen.

Here are some of the positives as I see them.   The black characters and minority characters in general are treated equally in the scripts as characters. By that I mean they are given distinct personalities, deep character development and backstories, they are not one-dimensional, they are all vulnerable to the same rules of being killed off–“nobody is safe”.

Aside from dealing fearlessly with Merle’s obvious and admittedly humorous and insecurity driven racism, the characters are not subjected to race related placement in the hierarchy of the group.  The black characters go through the same emotional and physical apocalyptic challenges. Some are strong, some weak, some emotional, some hard, some hopeful, some lost. Even in death, the characters further the stories of other characters and evoke emotion and a sense of loss in us as audience members. The loss of Bob, Tyreese and most recently Noah shows how attached the audience has become to these characters. The Walking Dead is brilliant at bringing in characters for a short time and making us care about them quickly–think Oscar and Axel. Death is a part of The Walking Dead.  Regarding the three most recent deaths, all were treated with full episode issues that will remain part of the storyline for episodes to come and for horror fans, included some of the most beautifully poetic and gruesome scenes in Walking Dead history.

Something that has yet to be done and I think would be fantastic is to have a black villain. Although Father Gabriel is one of sorts, I mean a full blown Governor type villain!

I know race is a controversial issue and I fully expect disagreement.  I hope that here at Undead Walking we can politely disagree and bring up thoughtful points and discussion and refrain from name calling.

P.S. The most disappointed I was in the Walking Dead regarding race was Tyreese’s line about being the first brother to break into prison and Axel the first white boy not to want to break out. I cringe every time I hear that line and I think it was beneath The Walking Dead.

Next: Walking Dead 50 most shocking moments and deaths

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