Dragon Ball and Racial Identity


I’ve been listening to the All Systems Goku podcast recently from this site’s older cousin Giant Bomb, and found out through the comments there’s a few hip hop songs about Goku. Altogether with Austin comments about Piccolo on some podcast and Waypoint’s coverage for EVO about what SonicFox’s victory means for minorities in the fighting game community, made me realise that DBZ seems very much linked to black culture identity in the US.

All of this comes new to me. I am a Spanish/Catalan dude born in the 80’s, and in my side of the country we got Dragon Ball on public TV during the 90’s, before foreign inmigration was really a thing for us. Pretty much every kid of my age was into the Freeza and the Cell saga without giving much thought about subtext on ‘alien’ races. It might sound narrow minded, but I never gave much thought on how offensive Mr. Popo could be when I first watched the series - similar ‘problematic’ characters were around in Spanish media without much thought on them, and people of color were uncommon in Barcelona until I was about 12.

So can somebody explain to me the history of how this became a thing?

(If mentioning this is offensive to anyone I apologise. I don’t believe DBZ related to black culture should be a bad thing at all but I might be missing something along the way)


Gita Jackson wrote a great piece about DBZ and the black community a little while back. It discusses a lot of what you’re talking about here. Check it out!


Austin’s piece on DBZ and blackness from a few years ago should also address some of yr questions.


Cool, both these pieces are great!