SPOILERS FROM THE FILM WILL BE DISCUSSED AND DISSECTED. DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU HAVE SEEN THE FILM
My former Grambling State University Theatre Department classmate turned prolific R&B artist Erykah Badu has a song on one of her albums called “Master Teacher.” The hook goes, “What if there were no N*****s, only Master Teachers? I STAY WOKE.” If you substitute the phrase Master Teachers for the word WAKANDANS, then you’ll get the vibe of where I’m going in light of this cinematic event that has been given to us this Presidents Day Weekend 2018.
I will leave the MCU fanboying to the experts here at THE FISH to ponder BLACK PANTHER’s place in the pantheon of Marvel films, analyze its connection towards the road leading to Avengers: Infinity War, etc. I’ve got bigger fish to fry. As does this movie.
Instead, I will build off of my thesis statement from my classmate – paraphrased and reappropriated for this movie. Of course I know that Wakanda is not an actual place. It’s birthed from the imagination of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. But, in my own mind, I see Wakanda as what might have been for my ancestors and I. What would my motherland of Africa and my kinsmen be if the natural minerals and resources had not been fleeced and its people oppressed by apartheid and their ancestral offspring not led away in slaveships to the Carribean, South and North America to endure 400 years of violent, dignity robbing, identity snatching hardship by real life “colonizers?” I look at those 5 tribes which form the fictional Wakanda and I see the true essence and spirit of who God has graced the African man and woman to be – regardless of whether the designation American appears afterwards.
I see honor and dignity. I see fierce devotion to ideals. I see great technological and scientific advances.
I see PRIDE.
I desperately wanted my 12-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter to see and feel the same thing as I did when I watched the movie. Their response was definitely more muted than mine. I get it. Because in our home – with God’s help – we have continually taught them to see honor and dignity in themselves; to have a fierce devotion to the biggest ideal of all: JESUS CHRIST IS LORD; and that technology, science, and all areas of greatness are available to them via education.
As I thank God for my kids, I also have to think about the other kids out there; the real life Erik Killmongers of the world. The ones whose hearts have grown numb to the images of Strange Fruits in trees hung, maimed and slaughtered by more evil “colonizers.” The ones who have attempted to take the derogatory ‘N-word’ label and soften it up by slicing 2 letters and adding an A on the end. The ones who wish to continue the work of the real life Black Panthers. I don’t think director Ryan Coogler set this film in Oakland by accident…especially when you consider that:
- The Panthers were born in Oakland
- Erik Killmonger’s plan of action – inherited to him by his father Wakandan Prince N’Jobu – is straight out of their playbook.
Call the real life Black Panthers a hate group if you want. You’re missing the point. These were a group of men and women who got tired of seeing the unjust oppression of their kinsmen by the ruling class and were ready to defend them even if it meant overthrowing the current systems of power. Disagree with them and Killmonger all you wish. But before you judge, look at their point of view in the light of those dead Black men and women of the past…and present.
Killmonger, rightful heir to the Wakandan throne, wants to take the resources from his homeland and equip warlords across the world to free his kinsmen. But T’Challa – our hero – knows there is a better way. A way, as spoken in Post Credits Sequence #1, that does not involve creating division and using his homeland’s resource to foster oppression. T’Challa wants to use his kingdom to be a LIGHT to the world. There was a time when Wakanda hid itself in fear of what MIGHT happen should their greatness got into the wrong hands. But T’Challa recognizes that it’s time to come out of the darkness and into the light.
But that light only shines when we, as humanity, come TOGETHER.
That’s the one area in the real world where all of mankind needs to stay woke. It’s not about White Supremacy or Black Pride reigning on the throne of society. There is only one Throne and only one Kingdom in which every knee will bow to. And that King will be glorified when He sees all of His creation – all races, creeds and colors – united together to shine His light on our broken world.
Black Panther gets 2 fists up from me! ✊🏿✊🏿 May its record breaking success cause studio execs to GET WOKE about the abilities of Black filmmakers handling big budget blockbuster material. I’ll say it loud! BLACK PANTHER MADE ME PROUD!