‘Flesh of White’: Cosmic Times Tackles the Albino Genocide in Africa

fleshWhen I stopped by Cosmic Times’ booth at Comic-Con, I got sold on two widely different comics. First up is Flesh of White by Erica Heflin and Amanda Rachels. This is, unfortunately, based upon a tragedy which is still occurring in Africa, and Heflin and Rachels want to get wider publicity for this story.

Unless you are a news junkie or have a particular interest in Africa, you might not know that in places like Tanzania and Malawi albinos are at risk of death or mutilation. According to CBSNews.com: “At least 18 albino people have been killed in Malawi in a “steep upsurge in killings” since November 2014, and five others have been abducted and remain missing, according to a new Amnesty International report released Tuesday. The toll is likely much higher because many killings in rural areas are never reported, according to the report. Malawi police also have recorded cases where the bodies of people with albinism have been illegally exhumed.”

In a 2015 article, the Washington Post reported that: “Albinos in Tanzania are at an increased risk. Already this year, some have been kidnapped, dismembered and turned over to witch doctors. Young vigilantes have armed themselves with machetes, axes and knives. They hacked and burned to death a 58-year-old woman they believed was using albinos for their perceived powers. The Tanzanian government has cracked down, banning witch doctors and making their crime punishable by death.”

In May 2016, CNN reported: “Malawi’s albinos are at risk of “total extinction” amid escalating attacks against them for their body parts, the United Nations warned.”

Perhaps in the constant barrage of horror we receive with our morning coffee, this particular horror has escaped notice. Often times fiction can focus people’s attention better than a mere news report. Ask Abraham Lincoln and Harriet Beecher Stowe about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. That’s why Heflin and Rachels took to Kickstarter to bring this story out.

The comic opens with a witch doctor performing a ritual with a dismembered white hand. The scene then shifts to a young mother in a town market. Her child is in a sling, but reader catches a glimpse of albino white flesh. Soon she is followed as bounty hunters seek the child. The mother’s village while supportive realizes that she must flee and her father sends her to the village of a friend of his, who is also an albino.

It is easier for us to read of supernatural horror because we know that it isn’t real. It is much harder to read about real horror. Real horror is more difficult to confront and defeat. Unlike fiction where the bad guy gets his comeuppance in the end, real life rarely has so satisfying an end.  But, that doesn’t mean we should turn our back and hide our eyes.

Heflin and Rachels have told an important story. This story must be shared and discussed. I don’t have the answer for a solution, except that we must expand education and wipe out the beast of superstition and ignorance.

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