The Story behind GameCargo’s ‘Imperfect Black’ design

Prototype of 'Imperfect Black' Cap

As someone who is never the one to shy away from layering content with historical truths that aren’t considered common knowledge, I found myself with a great opportunity to display love and hatred as two sides of a nostalgic coin that I often flip when drawing inspiration from in regard to my original properties. It’s also not often that I can purposely leave a controversial design open to a wide range of interpretation among many communities.

I honestly had not imagined that cover art for a remastered track that was being released by our subsidiary record label ‘Ultimate Mecha’, would evolve into a brand that would act as a bridge between the two companies. In the beginning, the concept to me was quite simple. I wanted to showcase the original Kemetic peace symbol which signified “unity” as clearly evident from being the opposite of the “V sign”, which separates the index and middle finger. This cultural symbol would then be masked with the glove of a traditional cartoon character in order to emphasize my love for animation.

However, what I had recollected throughout this thought process is that the gloves traditionally worn by cartoon characters originated from Minstrel shows, which featured blackface as an attempt to mock Black Americans. While this is potentially shocking fact, those that are well aware of cartoons’ political and racially-biased history wouldn’t be surprised. This is why rather than unfavorably censoring certain episodes of the Looney Tunes, for example, Warner Bros. employed Whoopi Goldberg to assist with explaining the nature of jokes and themes prevalent in them and how they reflected a very hateful time towards “people of color”.

Most recently, Disney has done a very similar action to coincide with the release of Disney Plus.

Again, I quite prefer providing knowledge of this, rather than censoring what may offend sensitive critics as an attempt to hide history. The ‘Imperfect Black’ design strongly represented this, however, in no shape or form was I trying to revise the imagery of cartoonish buffoonery that the older generation used to implant a subconscious correlation between the antics of a trickster and black people in the minds of their audiences. The ‘Imperfect Black’ design is not cherishing coonery like I would consider black artists who wear confederate gear, knowing that The American Civil War was about the right to own slaves. The ‘Imperfect Black’ design represents the journey of growth in a world that has masked your contributions to its society and accomplishments as a culture that’s identity was stripped away. An ironic form of rebellion unbeknownst to individuals that lack the ability to recognize subtext. Much like the ancestors that braided maps on to each other’s heads. It’s a subtle way of saying “I know what you did, but I won’t let it define my strength and intelligence”.

The existence of Bosko hasn’t been forgotten…

With the amount of information disproving nationalists who would prefer to sugarcoat or bury the reliance on depictions mocking minorities that did not have the power to control their own narrative, it is important to remember the technical advancements and creative work that did come from an era many of us couldn’t safely time-travel back to. Even ‘Birth of a Nation’ a.k.a. ‘The Clansman’, a very racist 1915 silent film that served as a spark to the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan provided artistic innovations that can be appreciated. Especially if you are a film historian or simply passionate about the medium of storytelling.

No better quote than what Bruce Lee had once said, rings truer in the case of GameCargo’s ‘Imperfect Black’ message.

“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.” — Bruce Lee

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