Dear Ryan Coogler,
I am on an emotional high after seeing Black Panther twice in two days. I love the beautiful blackness of the film. I believe I am going to see this film every weekend while it is in theaters.
Growing up, I secretly hated science fiction and the fantasy culture because the representation for my extra dark skin was almost always nonexistent, degrading, or boring.
I mean come on. Black women can be so much more than an aggressive, emotionless gun-toting assassins. More than a tough as nails sergeant. We can be more than a queen of a kickass husband or son. We are so much more than a hypersexual being that happens to win the love of the lead character.
We should not have to run around in form-fitting clothing using our bodies as weapons (no shade to Halle Berry in Catwoman but still).Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed all 11 times an African Americans starred as a lead character or supporting character in a science fiction/action movie, but I knew we needed more roles.
I craved for more inclusion. Before Black Panther was released, I use to feel excluded from conversations about Marvel. My guy friends could pretend to be characters from a movie because their representation was there. I wasn’t.
From the opening scene, I felt like I was a part of the conversation. My history was being told, and it did not start with chattel slavery. It began with five Wakandian tribes and then the evolution of Wakanda. An honorable mention is the Jabari tribe being vegetarian. I wanted to shout out, “Finally, someone gets it!”, that was the first wave of blackness that I was hit with.
The second wave of blackness hit me when you paid homage to the Black Panther Party for self-defense in Oakland. I was intrigued. My mind started to wonder how you were going to tie Black Panther to the Black Panther Party. I would have never foreseen that T’Chaka would kill N’Jobu that night for attempting to aid African-Americans with vibranium to fight oppression and mass incarcerations.
The third wave of blackness came when Okoye played by Danai Gurira made her first appearance on the scene. She was using her mind to fly a “spaceship Bugatti”. I sat up in my seat because there I was on the big screen. She had not showcased her warrior skills yet, but I was proud to know that I could participate in the Marvel conversation the next day.
The fourth wave of blackness presented itself when T’Challa, Okoye, and Nakia came back to Wakanda for the Black Panther crowning ceremony. Let’s pause on that scene and digest it for a moment. That scene was almost entirely composed of Black women. All shades. All important to the uplift of the Wakandian community. Shuri, the Wakandian princess, is an engineer and the sole reason for all the vibranium technological advances.
Shuri is the perfect little sister. She made me laugh with her witty comments like “Colonizer” and “what are those!?” Whenever, T’Challa needed her she was always there and ready to help. Even when T’Challa was believed to be dead, she still was willing to fight for his legacy. I loved the brother-sister relationship you created within those characters.
Within an hour of the movie, you have given me something no other sci-fi film has been able to do. You have given me multiple representations. You gave me black female warriors, black engineers/surgeons, black healers and a futuristic operating African nation. Please tell me …was it hard to imagine?
Black Panther is way more than a movie.
You incorporated all of the principals of the indigenous African government: 1. Consensus, meaning everyone agrees. 2. Free speech, everyone has a say in debates. 3. Gender balance, includes male and female assembly. 4. Checks on the power of chief are checking the abuse of power. 5. Queen mother is a woman who is appointed by age. I know all my fellow African American Studies major are smiling right now.
I believe my favorite part of the movie is the ending. You pay homage to Mother Africa and her plentifulness. Why continue to help only Wakandians? The Wakandian center in Oakland is a dope idea. I loved the fact that T’Challa, Okoye, and Nakia had a seat at the United Nations table and was secretly in control. An unidentified man asks what does Wakanda has to offer, and they proudly smirk.
Does that mean we will get a sequel? If so, where do I sign up?
Imagine watching and indulging in richness like your film every day. Black people wouldn’t know any boundaries. We would have no limitations. Thank you, Ryan Coogler. Thank you for giving the youth Black superheroes. Thank you for listening to colorism debates. Thank you for breaking sci-fi and fantasy glass ceilings.
A lifelong supporter.
** Image credit via Buzzfeed.com, Channel24.com, Reddit.com, BBC.com