Black Panther, has smashed box office records not just for Marvel but movies like Titanic, Jurassic Park, Star Wars and Avatar. It has become the 5thhighest grossing movie of all time; they’re predicting that it will hit $1.3 billion.It is a thought provoking movie backed by Marvel and in my opinion the BEST Superhero movie that not only is a great movie but one that is such an amazing representation of African, and African American culture. I’ve read so many articles on the cast but mainly, the Director, Ryan Coogler and his thought process from the moment marvel approached him to his visit to Africa. This was truly inspiring for me as a Creative Writer and soon to be Director because he merely had 3 movies under his belt and was given free creative range. It doesn’t matter what accolades you think you lack, when God is ready to open the doors; he will! The writing was phenomenal and has sparked so many conversations amongst the African American community.
The movie has layers of subliminal political and social messages on African versus African American culture: the absence of the father in the home, technological advancement, advantages of resources and lack thereof, and many more; all of which I won’t discuss. I’ll merely scratch the surface without leaking spoilers for those who haven’t seen it.
What stood out the most to me as a woman of color was the way in which black women are normally depicted in mainstream and how differently we were portrayed in Black Panther.
As a woman of Caribbean descent, I’ve always been faced with self-identity issues. I’m Indian and black or as they call it back home, ‘dougla’ so I didn’t necessarily fit in with the Indian side because my hair wasn’t straight enough and I didn’t fit in with the black side because of my light skin so colorism is as real for me as it is in the African American community.
In Hollywood it is prevalent that the type of Black women playing lead roles are fairer skinned, with long silky hair however, the women in Black Panther were darker skinned, rocking their natural hair and never had to compromise their strength. The battles they fought were as a result of their inner strength and intelligence.
The black women in this film were the ones that were maintaining the control of the kingdom and King T’challa knew when to step aside and allow them to lead whether it was the all-female warrior group, his genius sister, or his mother especially considering the patriarchal hierarchy in the African community.
The women characters portrayed strong versions of black femininity without leaning towards the pervasive caricatures of being sassy, ghetto or as Dr. Cheryl Giscombe (an assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina) defines, the black superwoman.
See the link for the video below.
Let me delve for a little without derailing. I came across this amazing presentation that I believe that every woman of color needs to watch. One of my best friends sent me this and Dr. Giscombe in essence has been researching the psychological health of black women and developed what she defines as the “black superwoman schema”. There are five characteristics, the obligation to always present an image of strength, suppress emotion, resist to vulnerability, to succeed despite limited resources and prioritization of care over others.
Okay so every black woman, single black mother, anyone raised by a black mother can relate to this. What Dr. Giscombe is arguing however is that there must be balance. We cannot be everything to everyone, we cannot be afraid or ashamed to feel.
As a woman of color, I am always expected to be strong as if showing vulnerability makes me weak. I am super emotional and my friends often tease me about it but I was taught, ‘you cry when you’re alone, never allow others to see you weak but guess what; crying or feeling doesn’t make you weak, ladies. We are always so focused on the exterior as women and at times we fail to pay attention to the inner signs.
I said that to say this, Black Panther is a movie that celebrates and elevates the strong, loyal, and vulnerable black woman! The only one gifted with superpowers was King T’challa.
Black Panther is a movie for everyone—you can appreciate it as a superhero movie but if you peel back the layers; Ryan Coogler added some amazing nuggets that was very empowering and fulfilling for a person of color. Now, we’re seeing memes and videos going viral on the internet of folks trying to prove their blackness but Everyone wants to be black until ish gets real!
Anyway, let’s not forget the amazing and sexy cast— Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira,(these ladies were KILLING!) Angella Bassett, excuse me ma’am—we know that black don’t crack but I need your secret. She was fiya! I was in the theatre like, YASSSSSS. But wait, y’all Chadwick Boseman and that accent (congrats on the Oscars by the way—I remember seeing him in “Get down” and “42” thinking, uhh who’s this new kid on the block? But I can’t speak too much on him; that’s my sister’s boo and she might cut me. But my boo, Michael B. Jordan, LORT… I can talk about that fine specimen right there but I’ll stop on that note. Seriously, if you haven’t seen Black Panther yet, be sure to see it at least twice; it’s a powerful move and so worth it!