Black Panther Blew Our Minds, Now What?

Photo via The Root
By Mwabi Kaira

It’s been days since I saw Black Panther and I’m still thinking about it. There was so much to digest and I know I’ll have to see it several more times to fully receive all the messaging and beauty of it all. Not since the history making November night in 2008 when Barack Obama became President have I witnessed black people come together and share excitement collectively. It was such a beautiful sight to witness and I know I will cherish this moment for the rest of my days.


The hardest thing about being an African immigrant in America has been explaining the beauty of where I am from and how what we look like plays the tiniest of percentages in our day to day struggles to African-Americans. I tell them that race is not woven in the fabric of our lives and we are made aware of it only when we leave our homes and travel to other continents. We are not without problems but our problems are not race based. We are the majority and can go for days without seeing another race. I have grown accustomed to being met with looks of skepticism and full noncomputeness. Zamunda was a point of reference but seemed too far fetched to be real life. How many real Princes do any of us know in real life? I am grateful to now have Wakanda as my new point of reference and know that this conversation will be much easier going forward.

Lupita Nyong'o, Chadwick Boseman & Danai Gurira 
Black Panther depicted Wakanda, a fictional powerful African country untouched by the Western world so beautifully. In Wakanda beautiful black people are celebrated and not merely tolerated, they are strong, smart and want for nothing. Women in Wakanda are not second class citizens who are after thoughts, they are sought after for wise counsel and play such pivotal roles that Wakanda can’t do without. Wakandans are not our ancestors dreams, they are living exactly as our ancestors lived. Wakanda resonated in a way that I hope lasts forever.

There was also the addressing of Africans and African-Americans between first King T’Chaka and his brother N’Jobu and then between their sons T’Challa and Killmonger. Both T’Chaka and T’Challa believe in preserving Wakanda and not letting the outside in while N’Jobu and Killmonger believe in sharing Wakandan powerful weapons with the oppressed black people all over the world. Some argue that nothing was solved in this movie and the two worlds did not find a way to reconcile but honesty what could be solved in such a layered movie that had a timeframe? The much needed conversation has began and this start is enough for me.


Black Panther Cast
Black Panther made history, surpassed expectations and proved that a movie with a predominantly black cast can be received globally. I saw movie goers on social media in Australia, UK, South Africa, and Asia have the same excitement and reaction to the movie we did. Boris Kodjoe was in Bulgaria and the movie was sold out. He was the only black person in the theater and experienced everyone laughing and cheering throughout the movie. After the movie everyone wanted to hug him and Bulgarians pointed at him on the street and crossed their arms Wakanda style.

The narrative has been changed. Now it's time for studios to greenlight more of these kind of movies AND pay our actors the same as their white counterparts. Really it should be more money based on these numbers but we can start with the same. Black Panther was a reminder of our dopeness; our music is often imitated and duplicated, our style sets trends, our flavorful food is sought after, our rhythm is watched in awe, our inventions are innovative and have changed the world. We are the pulse of the culture and have been since the beginning of time. Black Panther just put all those things in Wakanda and it gave us pride. It's time for us to carry this pride forward and a piece of it in our hearts to remind us of our greatness. Wakanda doesn’t just have to be a state of mind, we are Wakanda everyday.

How do you think we can carry the Wakanda spirit into our everyday lives?
Mwabi Kaira is an African girl navigating her way in an American world.  She is of Zambian and Malawian heritage and moved to the USA in 1993.  Writing has been her passion since she could put a sentence together on the page. Mothering her sons is her pride and joy.  She has been an avid runner since 2013 and has run 10 half marathons and a full marathon.  Keep up with her at http://africanbeautifulme.blogspot.com/


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