Sorry to keep you waiting for a new post, but I have been engrossed in The Black Panther movie. I’m no Marvel fan, but last year when I saw who was cast in the movie (i.e. bae Michael B. Jordan), I knew I could not miss watching it. Fast forward to its opening week, I have seen the movie twice in the theaters. And coming from someone who would rather wait until a movie comes out on DVD, this is a big deal for me.
In its first week, Black Panther has grossed over $500 million worldwide, and some are saying this has been the most profitable standalone Marvel movie. Regardless if you are a Marvel fan or not, it is a great film to watch and has many layers weaved throughout the film. Everyone has some opinion about the movie (read here, here, and here), which is great. The media plays a large role in creating perceptions in society, so it’s incredible when the media can initiate productive conversations as well. And it was perfect timing to have a movie talk about the uniqueness of African American and African culture, during Black History Month.
In the movie, there was an ideological struggle between/within some of the characters about the responsibility of Wakanda. If you have watched the movie, you know that Wakanda is a very prosperous and fictitious country in Africa. The metal,vibranium, landed on Wakanda and was used to advance the country. However, the people of Wakanda have shielded their prosperity and advancement behind rainforests and mountains. Wakanda does not accept nor provide aid to other countries in need.
Erik Killmonger (aka N’Jadaka) has experienced death his whole life, with his father being killed by his older brother. He grows up learning about African American history in America and sees their daily struggles. Aware of the powers of vibranium, he vows to become the King of Wakanda and arm the oppressed to overthrow their leaders.
Killmonger’s character, although portrayed as a villain, is very relatable. Most can relate to wanting to enact change, but not having the resources/money/etc. to do so. Or you might recall a time when you knew someone who had the resources needed to enact change, but they were unwilling to share them. This was the situation Killmonger was placed in; Wakanda had the resources needed to help those oppressed (particularly African Americans), but they chose not to help.
If African Americans had the same resources given to them as the Wakandans, would they live in projects or attend dilapidated schools or have their rights as Americans stripped from them? We may never know. While Killmonger’s goal is commendable, the method he chose is not. He let his past experiences (i.e. the murder of his father) give him tunnel-vision. Basically by starting WWIII, he imagined Wakanda to be the leader of all nations. I truly understand his frustration, but destroying more lives is not the way.
T’Challa (The Black Panther) was conflicted by the voices of Nakia and Killmonger, and by the traditions of Wakanda. As a human, he could sympathize with Killmonger and the plight of African Americans. As a King, he knew that there had to be an alternative to sharing the resources of Wakanda in a safe and practical way. In the end, T’Challa chooses to build the first Wakandan outreach center in Oakland, as an homage to Killmonger.
While I don’t want to take away the cultural significance to the African American community, I also think this idea can transcend to other areas of life. We know that America is seen as a superpower in the world. America is wealthier than most countries and has a powerful military. When crises occur around the world, they look to America to solve the problem. The amount of aid we provide varies depending on how we assess the situation. Growing up, I often wondered why and how this responsibility fell on America. Sure, we have resources to help others, but we are still facing our own set of crises. As T’Challa learned, there has to be a balance between preserving the future of your people, but also providing help to those that need it.
We can spend our days wishing we had the resources to help others or we can find ways to help them. It is a common misconception that the only people that can enact change are those that have money.
“Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you.” -1 Corinthians 1:26
We cannot think about what we lack, but what we can offer. Use your talent with science and technology to teach the younger generations, become a mentor, buy lunch for someone who is hungry, go on a mission trip. Money and resources cannot stop you from helping others, only you can do that. One person can create a ripple, but together we can create a new wave of humanitarianism, prosperity, and unity.
Thanks all for reading my post about Black Panther. If you have not gone to the movies to see it, buy your ticket now! I promise everyone will love it and gather something different, but significant from the movie. If you have any thoughts about what I said or have your own review of the movie, comment below. And make sure to like/comment/share/subscribe to hear more from me.