Saying that physically powerful Black characters such as Luke Cage and American Gods‘ Shadow Moon (played by biracial Black actor Ricky Whittle) “look like they could kill you” prior to calling them cinnamon rolls seems harmless and endearing, but can be linked back to the fact that their bigness and their Blackness are what cause white audiences to view them as threats in the first place.
It’s only after these characters prove their value and their softness (usually in a way that appeals to whiteness), that they’re revered for cinnamon roll status.
But it’s rather clear why fandom does this.
This piece, the third in my “Looks like a Cinnamon Roll…” essay series, tackles the way fandom views Black bodies as inherently threatening and titillating.
In this post, I talk about sexual racism in and out of fandom, stereotypes of Black masculinity in literature, and why saying that powerfully built Black characters “look like they could kill you” but are actually Cinnamon Rolls isn’t as sugar sweet as it seems.