“When black bodies are on the stage, Black perspectives must be reflected. This is not simply a matter of “artistic interpretation;” race and sex play a pivotal role in determining who holds the power to shape representation.
So we all know Marvel’s Black Panther is in theaters. If you don’t then you really been livin’ under a rock! This is a huge deal! Why? I’ll give you 3 reasons:
1. THE FIRST BLACK SUPERHERO!
I literally could end with this one reason alone lol. But I’ll dive in a bit more. The first appearance of the Black Panther was in 1961, In the comic Fantastic Four:Issue #52.
During that time, the US was basically in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement, where people were fighting for rights such as freedom of speech, the right to vote, freedom from involuntary servitude and the right of equality. As well as, addressing discrimination with federal assisted programs, housing, and employment opportunities. This was also the time where non-violent protests; such as Sit-ins and Freedom Rides, increased. The most known Sit-in took place at a diner in Greensboro, NC with four, black male, students (Ezell Blair Jr., David Richmond, Franklin McCain and Joseph McNeil). This sit-in was said to partially be a response to the brutal murder of Emmett Till. The Woolworth’s diner refused to serve blacks, but the students stayed seated to force the conversation of integration in public dining areas (History.com) (*side-note*: Part of the original counter is on
a small display at The American History Museum in Washington, D.C. There is also a display at the African American Museum of History and Culture, where you can participate in an interactive, “choose your adventure,” learning experience about sit-ins and non violent protests during that time. I HIGHLY recommend the visit!)
Freedom Rides were used to address the Supreme Courts unconstitutional ruling for segregation with bus seating in Boynton v. Virginia. The most known Freedom Ride was on May 14th 1961, (with 7 blacks and 6 six whites) on a Greyhound bus from Washington D.C. In Atlanta, some of the riders split and took a Trailways bus and the plan was to meet in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Greyhound bus was greeted by an angry mob of over 200 people in Anniston, Alabama. The Greyhounds tires blew out trying to escape the mob, a bomb was thrown on the bus, and the riders escaped the flames but were badly beaten. The Trailways bus was also greeted by an angry mob in Birmingham, Alabama and the passengers were also badly beaten (History.com)
So the excitement for having a Black super hero, at a time when Blacks weren’t even worthy of using the same water fountains as White people, is justified. Especially, with reference to Panthers (which are most acknowledged for their wisdom, endurance, strength, and agility). But let it be known, that the name has no affiliation to the Black Panther Party, founded in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, years after the first appearance of the super hero. The Black Panthers were formed to fight against police brutality and increase unity within the black community with emphasis on Black Pride. The agenda was laid out in a 10-Point Program; stating that the Panthers wanted decent housing, fair employment, reparations, acknowledgement of black history, exemption from military service, end to police brutality, release of all African Americans from prison, fair trial with jury of the defendants peer group, and to be seen as equal (Bloom, J. & Waldo Jr., E.M., 2016). Hopefully my summarizing didn’t water down the Panthers motives. The Panthers also started a free breakfast for children program and many others to increase the quality of life in the Black community. Unfortunately, the Panthers were seen as a threat to the U.S. government, and the FBI’s COINTEL PRO set out to dismantle the group (the only real threat was that blacks were finding their voice and seeking change that the “majority” of America did not want, but needed- I digress though).
I have to also point out the that Marvel’s Jungle Actions (Issues 19-24) focused on the Black Panther defeating the Klu Klux Klan. How interesting, seeing real world issues crossover into this fantasy world.
Alright enough with the heavy stuff….
2. THE CAST
Chadwick Boseman AND Michael B. Jordan. Who wouldn’t wanna see these two fine men! mmmm mmmm mmm lol I mean outside of their great looks, they are also great actors.
- Boseman is most known for his roles as Jackie Robinson in 42, James Brown in Get on Up, Thurgood Marshall in Marshall, and debut as T’Challa / Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War. Boseman gets extra kudos because its black history and he portrayed Jackie Robinson, James Brown, and Thurgood Marshall so well.
- Jordan is most known for his roles in Creed, Fruitvale Station, Fantastic Four, and had a pretty good run as a young actor on All My Children. Jordan also gets extra Kudos for being in Redtails, a story about the Tuskegee Airmen.
Lets not forget Sterling K. Brown and Forest Whitaker.
- Brown is most know for roles in American Crime Story, Army Wives, and most recently, This is Us. Kudos also go to him for being in Marshall.
- Whitaker is most known for his roles in Last King of Scotland, Lee Daniels’ The Butler (Extra Kudos). Extra Kudos again for his role in The Great Debators. Honorable mention to Daniel Kaluuyya most known for role in Get Out.
The lovely ladies of this cast are also giving me life.
- Lupita Nyong’o– most known for 12 years a slave (Extra Kudos), Jungle Book, Queen of Katwe (Extra Kudos) and Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.
- Ma Girl, Angela Bassett– Let me start off by saying she gets EXTRA KUDOS for every role she’s known for because she is AMAZING. Bassett is most known for her role as Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With It, The Rosa Park Story, Malcolm X, Akeelah and the Bee, American Horror Story (not really my cup of tea, but she got nominated for mad awards!), and of course How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting to Exhale.
- Danai Gurira– most known for The Walking Dead, The Visitor, and Mother of George (Extra Kudos).
Also, shout out to Ruth E. Carter (most known for her costume design skills in Amistad and Malcolm X), Hannah Beachler (most recently known for her production work on Beyonce’s Lemonade Album) and Ryan Coogler (most known for directing Creed,Fruitvale Station).
3. THE ROLE OF WOMEN
Women, in many countries, are often not seen as equals and are responsible for the domestic work. You know, cooking, cleaning, nurturing, educating…..that kinda stuff. Yes we can and still do all of that and then some. But that “domestic only” view is changing across the world. We are working. We are inventing. We are breaking records. We are being educated. We are voting. We are owning companies. We are making our voices known. It’s shown all up and through Black Panther! In Wakanda, women aren’t cast in the shadows of the men. They stand beside, not behind (maybe like a step behind out of respect and what not, but you get what I’m sayin’). Bold and Brave. Yes men are the head, but the women are the heart beat! Did you get that? WOMEN ARE THE HEARTBEAT!!!! The power, the wisdom, the intelligence, the beauty, the strength, the loyalty, the love. As a Black woman, I’m so inspired. We can literally do anything!
This movie is important because its not just us in another movie about slavery, or the life of a Black domestic worker, or livin’ in the hood, or being ghetto, or being the “token.” It’s making a statement. Showing strength, pride, and the importance of culture from pretty much an all black cast. Showing we can be more than just “the sidekick.” We know it’s not the first of its kind, but you have to admit that these kinda movies come few and far between. So we gotta support. Yea you could watch it on firestick or buy the bootleg DVD, but why not show some love and continue record breaking sales opening weekend and the weeks after. Can’t wait to be extra in the movie theater, with my people, in all black. #Wakandaforever #Iloveusforreal