It has been two years since Black Panther roared into movie theaters and unapologetically exclaimed, “Say it loud. I’m black and I’m proud.” With a predominately black cast in a myriad of skin tones that were splendidly dark chocolat’ (pronounced cho-co-lot), the movie is a conversation on what is and what could be the black experience. So, it is only fitting that as the world thirsts for amplification of black voices, Black Panther is on heavy rotation. (If you don’t own it or have Disney+, check your local listings. Even though I own a copy, I recently watched it twice on cable.)
Black Panther is the story of King T’Challa’s rise and fall and rise again. The movie covers topics that transcend race such as family dynamics, love, loyalty, belonging, and community. At its core, it shows the best and worst of humanity but on a large-scale Marvel Cinematic Universe way. While we get to see these stories all the time, we have never seen it led by an all-black cast. Many would say, “It’s about time.” It is about time for the world to see ‘us’ and all of our complexities. See us – wonderfully and gloriously thriving and not just struggling, downtrodden, or hustling. Yes, all of this is part of the human experience. I am not denying that. But you need to see the good and the bad…not just the bad. We need to see it too. See us – ruling and not being ruled, leading and not being led, helping and not being helped, saving and not being saved…for once.
Yes, Black Panther is a movie about ordinary people who are superheroes in their own right. Dressed to the nines in African garb and natural hair braided, twisted, knotted and even non-existent on strong, beautiful black men and women, Black Panther is a superhero film meant to do more than entertain you. And while it is designed to inspire you to open your mind to limitless possibilities (Think – prosperous all-black nation who is benevolent and revels in its retained cultural identity) and see both the beauty and strength and the good and evil in all men despite skin color, it is also paying homage to black women.
Black women and the power of black womanhood took on a life of its own in Black Panther. While the true superhero of the movie was King T’Challa, the heroines of the movie were second to none. The women of Wakanda or as I like to call them “WOW,” were the ultimate heroes. Without them, we would not have had a Black Panther literally or figuratively. Take for example, Queen Ramonda, T’Challa’s mother. She serves as counselor to the new king and fills the role of healer when she helps bring T’Challa back from the brink of death. Then there is Princess Shuri who leads all of Wakanda’s technological advancements and uses her skills to create and power everything from weapons to Black Panther’s suit. Nakia is the world’s best spy and T’Challa’s love interest. But more importantly, she is his confidant and equal. She is not defined by a need to be with T’Challa but rather she is called to be out in the world helping those in need. Okoye is a fierce warrior and General of the Dora Milaje. She is bound only by her loyalty to Wakanda and to the Black Panther. And the Dora Milaje, the all-female elite protectors of Black Panther, the royal family and Wakanda, are a force to be reckoned with.
These women embody what black women are in real life every day. But you don’t get to see that on screen. Black women are nurturers and healers, protectors and guardians, confidantes and confident, educated and educators and so much more. Although, Black Panther and these characters are fictional, the movie and specifically the portrayal of strong, unique dynamic multi-faceted characters helps to squash the stereotypical images we see of black women on the big screen.
Hopefully, watching this movie, will help you open your eyes and truly see black women and black people positively. With the world’s eye on Black Lives Matter, I pray we continue to see stereotypes disappear on and off the big screen. And hopefully, we will see more movies that speak to the full spectrum of the human experience with entire casts that just happen to be dipped in chocolate.
For more movies and shows to watch on the black experience, check out the list below:
· Just Mercy
· The Hate U Give
· Becoming (Read my blog on the documentary here)
· Dear White People
· Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé
· Imperial Dreams
· 12 Years a Slave
I would love to hear your thoughts. Have you seen Black Panther? What about any of the movies above? Are there other movies you suggest adding to the list? Leave a comment.
Until next time,
~ Sizable Chic