'Black Panther' really claws at the heart
The Ethnic of Love - Jovien Robinson
I saw Black Panther last Friday, and I felt moved to joy and pain from the movie.
No huge spoiler alerts here, but this movie impacted me so much that it would be ridiculous not to write about it.
There were a lot of positives that came from this film.
The fact that a superhero film was coming out, featuring a predominantly black cast, a female warrior team, and exposure to many rich cultures was not lost on many of the viewers. To acknowledge that the movie was significant to us, a lot of black people chose to dress in traditional African garments.
A large majority of people showed up to the opening night in unity, some wearing kente cloths, kufis, hijabs, tobes, or dashikis, some even came in all black, to honor and represent the Black Panther party, here in the U.S.
This movie highlighted the importance of diversity in culture, which they showed included religions.
It was refreshing to see a movie acknowledging the different belief systems other countries hold. It proudly displayed non-Christian religions, being acknowledged and celebrated.
I definitely took note of the fact that the strongest warriors in the whole film, were the women. Particularly black women, who have traditionally been the underpaid, underrepresented in an academic setting and leadership, yet grossly overrepresented in media as reprehensible, or of course, angry people.
The black women in Black Panther however, were depicted as regal, strong, fierce, intelligent, stunningly beautiful, self-sacrificing, and critical to the success of the entire kingdom.
There was also a touch of comedy, that I haven't seen since the movie Coming to America. The movie was rich in humor that, most people who've experienced the struggle of being a person of color in the U.S. will understand.
However just like in Coming to America, I was brought to the harsh reality, that many forget or don't know black people face. There has long since been a divide between the black and African community in America.
A lot of that tension arises from the slave trade that happened here in the U.S. Where many Africans were dragged here from their home countries, and some were even sold by their own people.
Actually, this is slightly similar to what is happening in Libya today.
Libya is the most common route refugees take when trying to reach Europe via sea. Before reaching there however, many are taken for ransom or tricked into human trafficking, where their bodies are used for labor or sex.
If the people are not able to escape or pay their way out, they are electrocuted, hanged, beaten, and made an example of. Conditions were similar to these, in the U.S. during the 18th and 19th centuries; except in the U.S., it was legal and institutionalized by the government.
Slavery in that form, has long since been abandoned here, and because of that the Africans here adapted to the culture. Due to enslavement in the U.S., and eventually integration, the people who were once solid in nationality lost integral pieces of themselves and were reconstructed with more Eurocentric views and morals.
Black Panther illustrated the tension that begat from this all. I've been accused of not having enough culture by some of my African family, of not knowing where I come from by a parent, as if me gaining Eurocentric values was of my own volition. I've also seen black students joining in or laughing at insensitive jokes, people make at the darkness of another's skin, not knowing the color serves as proof of that person's central or south African lineage.
In the end I think anyone who lives in the U.S. while they have family or parents from or living in another country, understands what it feels like to be torn and broken between two parts of yourself. One piece of who you used to be or wish you knew, and another piece of who you've adapted into becoming.