Dragon Ball Art – The Black Goku

black super saiyan goku golden afro

The Black Goku’s back, my brotha! Get your pimp suit on, don your bling and puff up your golden afro, ’cause it’s time to hit the streets!

Dragon Ball Z was at its peak of popularity in the early 2000’s. At that time, Goku and the other characters of DBZ were assimilated into African American culture.

One of the results was a transformation of the characters into “black” versions of Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo and the other main characters.

There was a popular website that sprung up to specifically showcase this perspective of African American Dragon Ball fans. It was called DaBlackGoku.com.

The site ran from 1999 to 2003. It stopped being updated shortly afterward and then got lost to time.

Luckily I was able to find the site in the Internet Archive and download the pictures that were still accessible. I now have over 320 Black Goku pictures.

Then I went through a selection process, picked the best ones, color corrected and cropped them into today’s art gallery.

Since I had already showcased a few in the original The Black Goku article, they won’t be repeated.You can read more about the phenomenon there.

This gallery is different from the others in the Dragon Ball Art series. It’s not about displaying beautiful art. The idea is to show people how Goku and friends were assimilated by children and teenagers in the late 90’s and early 2000’s to become “black.”

A lot of the art is really unprofessional. Some of it’s a little better. None of it is exceptional. But the quality is irrelevant. It’s the message behind its creation that matters.

The fact that it EXISTS is worth sharing. You can’t find this anywhere else on the internet. That alone makes it valuable.

The sociological message behind it makes it even more fascinating. Try looking past the technical side and into the philosophical side. Why was this art created? Where did it come from? Who made it and why does it exist?

What you see here is a time capsule of Dragon Ball fandom. A thin slice of a sub culture within a sub culture.

Anime was on the rise but wouldn’t become “mainstream” until around 2004. Yet these fans took Dragon Ball to their hearts and produced something the world had never seen…

A Black Goku.

The Black Goku Art Gallery

the black goku flying and crying

black goku black vegeta black trunks super saiyan dbz

black super saiyan vegeta gold chain

black super saiyan majin vegeta wu tang clan

black android 17 android 17 android 18 jinzoningen dbz

black android 17 dragon ball z rastafarian

black goku super saiyan 3 chasing osama bin laden

black chaozu dragon ball z

black goku super saiyan gangsta

black super saiyan goku ki blast dbz

black krillin pimp suit dbz

black freeza frieza dragon ball z

black super saiyan vegeta

black gogeta dragon ball z

black gohan dragon ball z scream

black vegeta super saiyan gangsta

black goku black vegeta braids cornrow dbz

black goku stand fence dbz

black bulma dragon ball z motorcycle

black shenlong dragon ball z africa dao yin yang taiji

da black goku super saiyan basketball

black majin buu gangsta dbz

black chi-chi dragon ball z

black yamcha dragon ball z

black mr popo mister dbz

“Mr. Popo. By most views he seems to be a pretty normal guy, but look at it another way. Mr. Popo though fragile looking has out… d after god after… and this porob… er end. Could … po is acctu… true god?”

black gohan standing super saiyan dbz

super saiyan goku insane clown posse icp dragon ball z

black goku afro black vegeta black piccolo

black goku black vegeta black piccolo black gohan black trunks dbz

Da Black Goku is Back!

Dragon Ball Z had a far reaching and profound impact on African American youth, and Da Black Goku website was only a single manifestation of its effect. Just the tip of the iceberg.

The series is still fondly remembered by millions of fans today, including Wu-Tang founder, The RZA, as he talks about in his book, The Tao of Wu [aff].

You can see a connection between the two in the image with Majin Vegeta, where instead of having the Majin “M” on his forehead he has the “W” symbol of the Wu-Tang Clan.

I can’t help but wonder, if Da Black Goku website were around today, what type of art do you think would be up there?

Fortunately there was so much great fan art that I couldn’t showcase them all in one post, so stay tuned for another Black Goku art gallery in the future!



21 responses to “Dragon Ball Art – The Black Goku”

  1. Dad says:

    Interesting art. A varied selection from many different perspectives. It’s an amazing phenomenon wherein many diverse cultures absorb what is presented to them as mainstream, into their concepts of what constitutes "Mainstream" in their communities. I’m left wondering if other cultures adapted this anime format into their perceptions of what would make cultural sense to them?

    • Derek Padula says:

      I agree. I can’t think of any other anime where this happened, so I believe it’s unique to Dragon Ball.

      The only similar phenomenon that comes to mind is in Israel where they have taken American Marvel and DC superheroes and created Jewish equivalents.

  2. Kirby says:

    This is just a sad example of blacks segregating themselves…. Then bitch about inequalities in this world. The only word that comes to mind when I see this is pathetic!

    • Derek Padula says:

      Really? I don’t see how it’s much different than African Americans turning Jesus and St. Mary black. They’re taking a "messianic" figure, or at the least, someone they wholeheartedly look up to, and assimilating them into their worldview in order to make them more relatable.

      I don’t see it as an act of segregation. I find it interesting that they would take something from Japan and accept it as if it were part of their own culture, seemingly no questions asked. The fact that they did this says a lot about Dragon Ball’s influence and power on viewers.

      I think an important question to ask, is does this kind of thing still exist, and we just don’t see it because there’s no site to showcase that type of art? Or was it a product of that time period alone, never to be repeated?

    • PostedB4 says:

      To be fair, anime is largely devoid of black characters as most anime is representative of Japan as a whole. (which is monolithically almost just one race) I mean sure, you got a few black dudes in Bleach and Naruto, but even when the one time the cast was mostly black the results were embarassing. (Tokyo Tribes) It’s pretty much, "what if they were more like us?"

      It’s also common for Christians in Japan/China to rewrite the story of Jesus and put him in their nation. I really think you’re reading too much into this, this is just some fun/silly fan art from black fans that’s kind of tongue in cheek, this isn’t like nationalistic "we gotta seperate from whitey because we’re racist" propaganda like you’re imagining.

      • Derek Padula says:

        I had never heard of Tokyo Tribes before. The Wikipedia article makes it sound rather violent and risque.

        I have to agree that these were mostly just for fun. After all, they were primarily done by kids and teenagers. Consider the SSJ3 Black Goku chasing Osama Bin Laden. I think that’s hilarious and doubt there was any type of real message behind it. Makes me laugh every time I see it!

    • Jack says:

      While I believe it was rude for you to say such word. Sometimes I do wonder if it is OK for a certain kind of people (not precisely africans nor african-americans but anyone) to "take what belongs from other cultures" and place it as from themselves. Sure this seems to be harmless fanart, but from what I see on certain parts of the world; and how the locals take what certain guests do in an unpolite way; I wonder if this would not bring drastic and somewhat negative alterations to native cultures.

      • Derek Padula says:

        So if I understand correctly, you’re concerned that it might be a source of conflicts with others? Possibly similar to the reaction that Kirby had, or worse?

        I think it’s a matter of whether or not the specific society considers it to be "sacred," and therefore "taboo" to alter.

        Thank you for the interesting social question. It’s the type I was interested in seeing because of this post. It really opens up a can of worms and can generate some good conversations.

      • PB4 says:

        I’m sure Toriyama, the staff at SJ and J. fans would probably be amused and laugh their asses off at "Black DBZ Characters" and give it little thought beyond being charming and humorous.

        Oh, I think the Popo picture is talking about how Popo has lived forever while multiple Gods have died- thus making Popo, the blackest man in all of DBZ, the "True God".

  3. Kirby says:

    Not segregation? Are you kidding me? instead of loving the characters for who they are they (the characters) have been changed to fit the into black culture… Basically the idea has been embraced by the black community but because the race of the characters wasn’t black they had to change it (drastically) in order to like it. Not only is that segregation but that’s borderline racism as well!

    • Derek Padula says:

      I think we have different ideas of what the term "segregation" means. To me it means division and separation of people because of differences among them. In this case I see The Black Goku as "assimilation," meaning that they accepted Dragon Ball into their worldview while taking the parts they were comfortable with and adding their own unique characteristics.

      Is it racist to do that? I’d certainly say that it is a narrow minded view point, but these are mostly children we’re talking about. I don’t expect them to have wisdom and broad minded experience.

  4. Could this have inspired Weeklytubeshow? In that series on youtube, all the Nameks have black guy voices.

  5. Formerly White-washed says:

    Thank you for posting this, Mr. Padula. I vaguely remember the Black Goku website. I came across it back in the early 2000s when I was searching for DBZ images, since I was a huge fan (to an extent, still am) of the series at that time, and they were airing it on Toonami.

    I am a Black man, and I enjoy DBZ. Racially, there are only a few minor Black characters in the franchise, not counting Mr. Popo, but I still enjoy it, and many other anime series. In fact, I even enjoy many American shows and movies that had no Black characters or only a token. There are few Black shows that feature sci-fi storylines, superheroes, etc., so I had no choice but to enjoy the media of “other races” to get storylines and action that I enjoyed.

    My name might give you a hint, but I used to be a very “White-washed” individual, believing that if I worked hard, acted as White as possible, and even insult my own race to gain favor in the eyes of other races that I’d be successful like them. I learned the hard way, partially due to my travels in Japan, that that isn’t so. I am somewhat nationalist because of this. I believe that Black people ought to make our own characters, stories, and enhance our culture, just as all other races do. How else will we “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps”, as the conservatives say?

    Some argue that the concept of “Super Saiyan” is racial; transforming from a “normal Japanese” to a “powerful Aryan”. I sometimes wonder about this, but still enjoy the show. “Black Goku” seems harmless. I can speak from experience that many Black kids loved DBZ coming up, and many love it to this day. “Black Goku” is just an artistic expression; we appreciated DBZ before, and just wanted to draw some characters that looked like us for a change. I have been to Japan, and there are many shops that cater to the hip-hop crowd, featuring Japanese models. Tokyo Tribes, as mentioned before, is a franchise based on an over-exaggeration of the Japanese hip-hop scene, with Japanese characters acting as Black stereotypes. There was no complaint, even though the maker of it is making money off of it.

    Some of the kids (of all races) that draw characters and write stories inspired by DBZ and other media may potentially grow up to make things of their own, which is what I have done to a very small extent.

    I didn’t mean to offend anyone; I don’t hate White people or any other race as a whole, but I do hate people that hate me, i do want to see Black people be more productive, and I do not see any harm in drawing “Black Gokus” as a hobby, or original Black characters as a business. Thank you once again for this trip down memory lane, and cultural analysis, Mr. Padula.

  6. mrpopo is racist bullshit says:

    funny you should say that, the original ssj form of goku was black hair and all white eyes it it was americanized…poof, ultimate feature becomes characterized by aryan-ness

  7. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm says:

    I like how you people defend the black people, and say they aren’t racist. When in fact, they’re the ones who keep the race card alive. I agree with Kirby, not on every point of view, but agree with him none the less. Black people play the race card way too much. And if you say they have a right to because of the slavery thing, then you’re completely wrong. Who sold the Africans to the whites? Their OWN people. End of story.

  8. Millgiass says:

    I was the one who drew Mr. Popo and Da Black Androids… God that was like what 13-15 years ago?

  9. Sydd Hoff says:

    okay people who are bringing their own racist crap into this obviously didn’t live in the city and have friends of various ethnicities who were fans of DBZ. The reason people altered the characters is because Dragon Ball Z resonates with people of all ethnicities. Goku was a fucking hero to any kid who watched the show. These characters were all our heroes and naturally people like to imagine their heroes being like them. It is an act of admiration and tribute.

  10. Brollik White says:

    Tbh…I feel like most of these black characters are what the media portrays us blacks or how society perceives us. But not actually what we are. None of my friends are “Thugs” we all love hip hop but mostly insightful hip hop like Big KRIT or Outkast or Kendrick Lamar or J. Cole…Lupe…Cyhi The Prynce…and yes some of those artists have rapped about “thuggish things” but not in the way you understand. They use personal life experiences both negative and positive to generate a positive message. (the artists I named) Unfortunately the industry and media is all about money sex drugs assets…They make Black look bad. So when ppl draw some of these characters…I don’t feel its who we are. Some of them are great. But wearing the chains and tattoos (all races get tatted) and the hoochie mama shorts with crazy weaves that a lot of these drawings show….its not the real black. Its what the media portray us as. I don’t wear chains. I’m not a thug. I love hip hop. I hated GT however that super saiyan 4 goku is one of the best transformations ever created. Most ppl I know also disliked GT or thought it was only “OK.” That transformation is the only thing that saved GT in my opinion though lol. Sorry if there are typos or “incorrect grammar” I rushed this lol.

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