This book struck a chord with me like none of the others have. I’m not a huge Marvel fan, but I especially don’t like the X-Men. I know- how dare I? My dad was obsessed with them when I was growing up, and they always just annoyed me. I think maybe I was too young to understand some of the overlying themes that I can now see today, so I got bored and left before I finished the movie(s). The graphic novel was a different story, however. I couldn’t put it down! I read page after page, wanting to see what happened next. Would the mutants be accepted? Would they be killed? What is going to happen?! I was pleasantly surprised at the end, when they came together and figured out how to stop Stryker, and when the humans stood up for them. I liked the ending a lot. It’s what was in the middle that really grabbed my attention, though.
I have seen discrimination my whole life. My parents are not exactly what you would call “normal.” My dad is 100% deaf, and my mom is hard-of-hearing. She also has Cerebral Palsy and, at this point in her life, is in a wheelchair all the time. Growing up, I saw my parents get passed up for jobs, ridiculed for choices they made in high school that later affected their disabilities, and talked about behind their backs. I guess no one thought that an 8-year-old would notice.
The sad truth is, discrimination is a reality for so many Americans with disabilities. Whether mental or physical, people are judged based on their differences. We even had a campaign several years ago to change the “politically correct” title from “DISabled” to “DIFFERENTLY abled.” This made my parents so mad! Instead of saying, “You’re not able at all,” instead, people were pointing out HOW different they were, and that they could only bring certain things to the table because of it. It’s total nonsense to me.
However, there is something to be said for how far disabled people as a group have come. If we look at history, we will see a long list of offenses against those who are disabled. I found this timeline that makes it a little easier to see how the treatment of disabled persons has evolved. I’ll summarize here so you don’t have to read it all.
It makes me happy to see the advancements in this area of society, but I think this directly relates back to the book. We can see the same evolution of acceptance in the book as we can on this timeline. At first, mutants are killed for simply being what they were born as; then, we see the campaign to kill them all; finally, we see that they are recognized for what they truly are and accepted. It can be seen throughout history in almost any minority group that this is true, and this is inspiring to me. I am overjoyed to see that we are evolving as a species and becoming more tolerant of traits that once scared us. I like to think that the last panel in X-Men sums this up very well- that we are all human, and there is no shame in that.