Black Panther: A Step Further in the Right Direction

I remember Black Panther/ Prince T'challa’s first appearance in Captain America: Civil War back in 2016. Later came the joy of the confirmation that the African superhero would get his own Marvel movie. And in the year and months following, I welcomed all the promo pictures of the cast taken straight from scenes I could get my hands on. I reblogged so many photos to my Tumblr blog, my dad teased me on how I’d be sick of the movie before it came out.

Fast forward to February 15th at 9:20 p.m., a friend of mine and I sat in our seats, popcorn and mozzarella sticks in hand, watching trailers, and I buzzed with excitement that the night had finally arrived: I was going to watch Black Panther.

 

That Instagram caption? Written only minutes after finishing the film in its entirety, including the credits. We live in a country where we claim to have made progress, and have done so to a point, but essentially still have a ways to go before we can hope to achieve a true sense of equality for all people. Bringing that into perspective, in a culture that appropriates my hairstyles and physical features and rebrand them all as their own, in a society that thinks it can drop the n word because they sing along with the rappers of their favorite songs, in a reality where it’s the year 2018 and the current president of the United States and countless other Americans are boldly and unapologetically racist…It’s a breath of fresh air, of needed oxygen to go see a film where the main AND supporting stars are people that look just like me,my family, and friends. Black people aren’t degraded to ignorant stereotypes that have incorrectly and harmfully defined us for decades. Up on the big screen, I got to witness positive representation, and man did it feel good.

To the Hollywood studios and cable networks that still cling on to the lie that ‘these type of stories don’t sell’, you can keep it. And to the ordinary people who still chant ‘all lives matter’ aloud or silently in their hearts, and come up with every single damn excuse and defense underneath the sun that demeans and diminishes black people and our experiences in this country, I don’t want to hear it anymore. Times are changing, and you either get with the program or get left behind. As someone who hopes to work in the film and literary industries very soon, I’m also tired of hearing diversity being thrown around like a buzzword. America doesn’t have a diversity problem, we have an inclusion one.

Black Panther tells the story of a king gaining, losing, and reclaiming his throne, yet there was so much more in the subtext of the plot. Family love and loyalty, romantic love, the sense of community, strength and honor within femininity, and the relevant theme that people are much stronger working together than they are fragmented and pitted against one another. While this movie is relevant to black people, I think it's just as important for everyone else to see, witness, and support it.

“We must find a way to look after each other, as if we were one single tribe”