The importance of Black Panther

If you haven’t seen Black Panther then I don’t know what you’re doing, especially if you’re black. Not only is this movie flooded with the representation that we deserve, it also has a fantastic story line. Personally, I haven’t watched many Marvel movies, so I cannot look at it from that perspective, but I genuinely enjoyed the movie. P.S. I suggest you watch the movie before reading this post as there are a few spoilers.

For me, Wakanda is what the countries of Africa would be like if colonialism and slavery had not occurred. With the vast amount of natural resources hidden in Africa there is no doubt that it was created to prosper.

The Wakandans decide to remain in hiding and keep their resources to themselves as a means of protection, they even ignored all the atrocities being committed against other black people. This is a problem with some people in our community as we often negate the struggles of our own people when we feel that we are on a higher level. An example of this is those in the corporate sector looking down on those that aren’t as successful as them. They gain this sense of privilege by their position and forget that all black people share the same struggle. The fact that T’Challa decides to share Wakanda’s resources with the world at the end of the movie displays that there is power in helping those that aren’t as fortunate as you.

The scene where Nakia tells T’Challa not to attack Klaue because ‘the word is watching’ is reminiscent of how black people often have to put on their best face in public in order to not fulfil a stereotype. Although T’Challa was protecting the interests of his kingdom, he could not do anything too aggressive even if aggression would be the normal human response to the situation.

Killmonger’s instinct is to arm all the Africans around the world so they can take over. His militant edge is similar to that of Malcolm X in the Civil Right Movement. Killmonger, like Malcolm, believed that the only way to combat discrimination was to fight back and reclaim our possessions. His expression of his opinions created disunity in Wakanda and exposed the disloyalty of the border tribe. His defeat could signify that violence is not always the way forward and the sense of community is more important

Shuri, T’Challa’s sister, was the face of STEM in the movie as she created all the weapons and gadgets for battle. This is so important for young girls, especially young black girls, to see a female freely succeed in such a field. She never had to prove herself against other men but was left to do her thing and serve her nation in a way that she was equipped to. This displays to young girls that it is possible for you to succeed in a STEM field despite the generalisations about your gender. In addition, Okoye was the best warrior in Wakanda. As black women, we are often labelled as angry when we fight to protect what it ours. However, the character of Okoye displays to us that we can safeguard our values without being ‘the angry black girl’. It’s okay for us to be passionate about the things we love because this passion is fuelled by love and loyalty.

As always, the white guy steals from the Africans – the age-old story of colonialism. Klaue felt entitled to the vibranium and that he had a right to take it. He looked down on the Wakandans for treating other people as outsiders even though this is how white people have behaved towards black people throughout history. Black people have created their own culture and tend to stick to each other as a protection mechanism, but this seems to anger some white people. They cannot stand the fact that we can prosper without their assistance and resort to stealing our creativity and ideas in an attempt to remind us that they are more powerful. But can you be powerful if the source of your power is the very people you oppress? Emphasis on the use of the word ‘some’ because some white people actually assist in the struggle like Ross. He did his best to help Wakanda and treated it like his own nation, just like some white people treated Civil Rights as their own struggle. We need more people like him.

All in all, it was great to see a movie with a majority black cast that wasn’t about slavery, gang violence or a traumatic situation. It reminds us and the generation to come that there is more to black people than the mainstream media believes and that we are all warriors in our own right.