If you were amongst those that piled into theaters this past weekend to see the long awaited Marvel film, ‘Black Panther‘, I’m sure of a few things.
- I know you waited in a line.
- I know there was at least one crying child in your theatre.
- I know you witnessed the show of African inspired outfits.
There was something truly beautiful in the entire experience that I cannot put into words. It was one of those moments that you just had to be there to understand. I didn’t feel as though I was sitting in a theater filled with strangers. Every person there felt of Kin (in the south, that’s short for family).
There have been those people saying, “it’s just a comic, stop making it about race”. But I can say this, although it was a comic, there was something beautiful in the underlying message and images that brought us all together. But enough about that, let’s get to the good stuff.
*SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t seen the movie, you should probably stop here*
The women of Black Panther were all forces to be reckoned with. From T’challa’s mother, sister, ex-girlfriend, and the Dora warriors.
I want to delve into each of the 4 leading women to show you what I drew from each of their characters.
I had to start here. Why? Well, tell me the last time you saw a movie where the love interest was of a darker complexion? I’ll wait.
We know that colorism is something stitched into the fabrics of the African-American community. Women with deeper hues have long been portrayed as angry, ugly, or the ‘best friend’ (think Pam from ‘Martin’). But here, Nakia shows women with natural hair and beautiful brown skin as desirable in a way that isn’t hypersexual. I also love that she really challenges this idea that in order for women to be desired, they have to be timid and negotiate their dreams and aspirations for a man they love. In fact, T’Challa loved her because she was strong and didn’t give up on the things she believed to be important.
T’Challa’s mother was another great reference to the strength of Black women. She was so poised and graceful that many times throughout the movie, I’d forgotten that this woman’s husband had JUST died! As many Black mother’s do, she kept the family together in spite of everything that was going on around her.
Okoye and the Dora Milaje warriors
Okay, can we talk about it? I mean REALLY talk about it.
Okoye was the greatest warrior in Wakanda, T’Challa’s right hand man (or should I say wo-man) and the leader of the Dora warriors. While juggling all of these hats, some kind of way she found the time to also be in love with W’kabi. W’kabi betrayed T’Challa and it all escalted to one big fight scene in which W’kabi summoned his huge Rhinos to help fight. (stay with me here…) W’Kabi charges up to Okoye on the Rhino and in mid-run the Rhino stops and licks her on the face (like a dog would). He then asks her, “Would you kill me, my love?” and her reply was, “For Wakanda, without question.”
Even when asked to choose love or her country, she chose what mattered most to her and I don’t know if there were any other moments more pivotal than that scene.
This may have been my favorite character throughout the movie. Shuri was T’Challa’s little sister and head of technology in Wakanda. Along with being a genius, she also had a sense of humor that would steal any scene. The lesson about Black women that lie within Shuri’s character is the endless possibilties for us within the STEM field. Yes, I know it was a movie. But, Shuri has shown many little Black girls that they too can have a lab and develop new technologies. She creates an image that has rarely been shown on screen for Black women and I believe that can be monumental for our little Black girls growing up. Representation is so important.
In the film, we see that Black women are intelligent, strong, compassionate, and trailblazing. But most importantly, we see that strong Black men aren’t intimidated by strong Black women and won’t allow them to dim their lights in order to make themselves feel superior.
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