*Warning Some Spoilers Ahead*
Falcon and the Winter Soldier Ep.5 finally delivered on what we've all been waiting for, these past four weeks since the series began. Sam Wilson finally confronts the complicated legacy of the mantle Steve Rogers bestowed on him ahead of a series-finale showdown with Karli Morgenthau (Leader of the Flag Smashers).
This episode entitled "Truth" did not hesitate to expose more than a few uncomfortable truths throughout its longest runtime to date in the series (just over a hour). The episodes title is also reflective of Isaiah Bradley’s comic book origin story, Truth: Red, White & Black, a seven-issue comic book limited series written by Robert Morales, drawn by Kyle Baker and published by Marvel Comics. The series focuses on Isaiah Bradley, and the other 299 African American soldiers experimented on by the US Army in an attempt to create super soldiers. Set in the Marvel Universe, the series takes the Tuskegee Experiments as inspiration for a tale that re-examines the history of the super-soldier serum that created Captain America.
The same super soldier serum that brought Sam Wilson together with Bradley for a extremely heated conversation in the second episode that ended abruptly with Isaiah revealing that he had been experimented on and jailed for 30 years by the US government despite his honorable service in the military.
Fast forward to episode 5 which opens with Sam and Bucky facing off against John Walker to reclaim the shield and get him to turn himself in for the murder of one of the flag smashers.
After a pretty sound ass whooping, Sam reclaims the shield but loses his Falcon wings in the process. In a gesture to make amends Sam arrives in Baltimore at Bradley’s house with the intention of delivering Captain America’s shield to him.
To no one of colors surprise Isaiah is less than enthusiastic to recieve probably the third most popular symbol of his oppression (Eg. #2 Bald Eagle, #1 American Flag). As Isaiah delineates, during his tour in Korea he discovered that the U.S. government intended to blow up a facility housing his old military unit comprised of African American super soldiers. Isaiah chose to go rogue and infiltrated the POW camp to rescue them and keep the government from killing them in order to destroy evidence of the super soldier serum and the unlawful experiemnts they forced on them.
Isaiah successfully rescues his comrades, but instead of being lauded as a hero, Bradley was imprisoned for the next 30 years by the US, suffering through experiments to extract the super soldier serum from his blood while the love of his life died during the time of his incarceration. Isaiah reveals to Sam the wounds he suffered at the hands of the US Government and Hydra. If it sounds oddly familiar...art has a funny way of imitating life.
Upon hearing this new information, Sam contemplates whether he should finally take up the mantle of Captain America. But as Isaiah sees it, that job was only ever meant for Great White Hopes...blond-haired, blue-eyed white men like Steve Rogers, or John Walker.
“They will never let a Black man be Captain America,” Bradley exclaimed to Sam. “And if even if they did, no self-respecting Black man would ever wanna be.”
It's at this point my little Black AF heart ripped in two, I personally am a huge Captain America fan. This entire series we've watched Sam grapple with his decision to give up the shield that Steve entrusted him with. Isaiah’s horrific story helps illustrate the impossible position Steve put Sam in when he handed the shield to a black man. Steve, expected Sam to become the patriotic symbol of a country that has for centuries denied African-Americans basic human rights—and yet had no issues has profiting off the spilled blood of those same African-Americans just the same. Who knew marvel would get so deep into the racial schism in this country with this show.
Isaiah did bring up a valid question tho...One that honestly many black people have been asking during this series. Should a self respecting black man like Sam take up THAT mantle? If he does is he simply heeding the call of Uncle Sam and performing his patriotic duty like many African Americans in politics, the military or law enforcement? Or is he in a sense... an Uncle Tom in service to Uncle Sam and symbolizing a historically racist system.
Sam idealistically believes the world has changed and is more accepting of the concept of a black Captain America. Isaiah in contrast has the bitter wisdom of an old black man that's seen some shit...and does not believe the world is that different from his time. Sam will definitely end up as Captain America, I mean we already got a training montage in the episode and everything. He looked good with the shield too, like Obama on his first day in office...there was a sense of pride.
Then as I turned on the news, and scrolled down my timeline...I was quickly reminded that Captain America is the mantle of the Top Cop of the United States. And...Well....Uh... Law Enforcement and black people haven't exactly had a great a reconciliation of sorts like Bucky and Sam.
Between the George Floyd trail, Black-Latino Army Lt. Caron Nazario, who was in uniform, getting pepper-sprayed earlier this year during a traffic stop in Virginia. and The killing of Daunte Wright, 20, the third high-profile death of a Black man during a police encounter in the Minneapolis area since 2016, after the shooting of Philando Castile in 2016 and the death of George Floyd last year its hard to look at Law Enforcement the same as well as this country and its justice system.
That's just it tho, the mantle of Captain America is suppose to represent justice, protecting the innocent and liberty. I think Steve Rogers said it best:
But the reality is those ideals where not written with black men in mind, as a matter of fact the men who wrote those ideals, some world famous, some still celebrated to this day (ie. Thomas Jefferson) owned slaves – actually the majority owned slaves... 41 of the 56 signers of the declaration of independence, according to one study.
So the question remains when Sam dons the shield and mantle of Captain America in next Fridays episode 6 of Falcon & The Winter Soldier will you view him as a Patriot or a Pawn? a Soldier or a Traitor?Uncle Sam or Uncle Tom? (scroll down and tell us what you think in our opinion poll)
Written by Curtis M. Brown II Editor and Chief