This Thursday marked the premiere of Black Panther, a 2018 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Black Panther. Black Panther is directed by Ryan Coogler from a screenplay by him and Joe Robert Cole, and stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa / Black Panther, alongside Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, Angela Bassett, Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis.* (*Wikipedia) The film covers the rise of T’Challa, the Black Panther and the challenges and conflicts he faces as the new King of Wakanda.
Black people have waited for this day with tiptoed anticipation, and when Thursday, February 15 came, we showed up and showed out like only we can do. Black people around the world were dressed in African clothing, jewelry, Pro-Black t-shirts. We had African drumming, dancing, ribs, catfish, potato salad, collard greens, hot water cornbread, and sweet tea. Fuck a concession stand. We pulling up with the barrel grill and getting it cracking.
We didn’t come to play.
(Brianna Harlan, Derrick Talton, Felicia Bennett-Sitgraves, Felicia Bennet Sitgraves, Michelle Black, Delta Johnson-Brown, DeWana LaNae, Brandon J. Colbert, Kristina Mucker, Kahlil Baker and friends, Tara Pruitt, Tara Pruitt, Catrena Bowman. Photos Courtesy of Facebook. Thank you all. Black excellence!!!)
This is our moment in time to shine and shine we will! We have lived our lives with Superman, Batman, Robin, Spiderman, Wonder Woman, Poison Ivy, Magneto, Professor Xavier, Wolverine, and Mystique, just to name a few. The list is endless of White superheroes that have graced comic books, television and the big screen and now it’s our chance to see not one, not two, but an entire cast of Black men and women, reclaiming their time!
And as Black people, we snatched back every second of our time along with wigs, braids and weaves! I felt the spirit of Amanirenas, Martin, Queen Nzinga Mbande, Fannie, Toussaint and Nat rise up in me in the movie theater!
But what would a global Black celebration be without White people bringing rain to the parade?
And so, begins the, “You do know Wakanda isn’t real?” narrative. This is laughable coming from people that think the Black Panther movie is an action movie based on the Black Panther Party. This is so rich coming from people who still call Africa a country. I bet if I asked some of them to point Wakanda out on a map they would start looking for it. Right now, Trump is probably asking John Kelly how the United States can invade Wakanda and get their hands on Vibranium?
Of course, Black people know that Wakanda isn’t an actual place. However, I find it funny, but typical, that White people have no trouble welcoming the world of fictional locations from Westeros, Narnia, the Shire, Gotham City, to the Coruscant. They have no problem with cosplay or chasing cartoon images of Pokemon around the nation. They have no problem believing in dragons, unicorns, wizards, 50 foot women, talking statues, flying cars or claws made from Adamantium. They have no problem accepting an owl can drop mail off to a little boy and then he can run through a wall and be at a school of magic or muggles but all of a sudden, they feel compelled to tell Black people Wakanda isn’t real?
I will give you my theory.
White people understand that representation matters. If you see someone doing something you once believed was unattainable, you start to believe, “I can do that or be that too.” When you see a character like T’Challa serving us Denzel Washington’s walk, flanked by his army, you start to believe that you can be that confident too. You start to believe that you can stand in your glory. When you hear M’baku say they are vegetarians, you start to think about the African diet and how food impacts your health and strength. When you see women like Nakia and Okoye, being strong, powerful, intelligent, and strategic you know, “That is who I am as a Black woman.” When you see Shuri in all her youthful wisdom mastering technology, you start to believe, “I can do that too.” There is power in seeing yourself in the world. And that is why some White people dislike this movie. It has nothing to do with the content but everything to do with how Black people will respond. It has nothing to do with the fictional world of Wakanda but everything to do with how Black people will react in the real world when they are faced with injustice. White people don’t want Black people, especially Black youth, to walk out of the movie theater and feel empowered, know their worth and stand up in their authority.
White people and White media have worked diligently to portray Black people as criminals, less than, and savages. White people and White media have worked relentlessly to write the narrative about Africa with even Trump call Africa shitholes. White people understand if they can control the narrative, they can control how Black people see themselves in the world.
When Black men and women were lynched, White people delighted in hanging their bodies from trees found in the town square for other Black people to see. They wanted other Black people to witness the horror and devastation and “stay in their place.” Their tricks have not changed for centuries only now, they lynch Black people in the media.
This is why Nikolas Cruz can kill 17 people and be described as a troubled orphan who committed a heinous act that could have been brought on by his mom dying from the flu.
This is why Trump can address an audience and call NFL players that are kneeling to bring awareness to police brutality “sons of bitches” but will call White supremacists that wreaked havoc on a town, “good people.” Trump doesn’t care about the flag or patriotism. He cares that a Black man stood up to the system. He cares about the visual of that and how it would affect other Black men witnessing Black men standing up to power. He cares that standing up to the system could be contagious.
This is why Fox reporter, Laura Ingraham went go on national TV and basically told Lebron James, “Just shut up and dribble the ball, boy. Stay in your place, boy. Don’t you dare get these Black folks riled up. We paid you enough money, boy. Just entertain us, boy and keep your mouth shut boy.” This is rich coming from a White news anchor that defends and supports a reality TV star. Okay.
This is the modus operandi of White people. White people understand there is power in perception and representation. They want to show you the images they want to show you. They want to write your story. Once Black people see themselves in all their glory, that puts the fear of God in colonizers. They are fine as long as you never see yourself for who you are. They are fine as long as the images they portray of you are what they want you to see. They are fine as long as every Black man you see in the media is criminal. They are fine as long as every Black woman you see on the big screen is in a role of servitude to White people.
Start calling yourself a king and see what happens. Go to your job Monday and say you are a queen. Congregate with two other Black people and do the Wakanda handshake and see what happens.
See how quickly they label you a Black Identity Extremist. Stand up in your authority and refuse to bow down and see what happens. You see there was almost no outrage from White people when David Beinoff and D. B. Weiss wanted to make Confederate- a show depicting the world if slavery never ended. No one complains when White Holllywood makes yet ANOTHER slave movie. But make a movie where Black people are kings and queens, innovative, strong, mighty, warriors, technologically advanced, superior, and White people feel they MUST knock you down a peg or two by telling you Wakanda isn’t real. But we do know what IS REAL. The reality is that HUMANITY started in Africa. The truth is we ain’t offspring; we are the FOUNDATION OF CREATION.
Sorry colonizers, your tricks will not work here. You use the same tactics you have used for years. And it will not work. You have shown your hand. You have revealed your tell. We see the fear in the whites of your eyes.
This weekend and beyond, we are celebrating Black excellence, beauty, class, creativity, style, ingenuity, grace, strategies, culture, music, dance, innovation. We are standing up in our authority.
This is Africa.
This is Africa in all its futuristic glory.
This is Africa with almost no colonizers in sight.
This is Africa in all its splendor.
This is Africa reaping the rewards of the land.
This is Africa healing its people with nature’s medicine.
This is Africa with all shades of Black, and they are all beautiful.
This is Africa that many of us have dreamed of.
This is Africa never being invaded by colonizers.
This is Africa.
This is Black.
This is glorious.
This is Africa without colonizers.
Deal with it.