Black Panther: Fan-womaning!

Yes, I am jumping on this bandwagon.

Friday night, Jenise and I went to see Black Panther. I left the theatre feeling like I’d just been to church. Seriously.

Let me get this out of the way, first. I saw on my Facebook feed that some people (Black people, because I TRULY don’t care how anybody White felt), were upset that the movie was not about the Black Panther Party, which is why they wanted to wear their dashikis and all-black to the showing. I had to pick up my jaw off the floor. Jenise and I wore our Motherland colors, but we knew perfectly well what we would be seeing. What part of any clip/video/trailer/commercial for the past YEAR about this movie led you to believe that this movie would be about the Black Panther Party?

I cannot work with that level of stupidity! For anyone who is equally clueless, Black Panther is about a Marvel Universe superhero, an African king of a fictional country who protects his people. There are no berets or leather jackets anywhere in the story…and you don’t miss it at all. Are there political themes in the story? Absolutely. Is the movie revolutionary? God, I hope so.

I am 48 years old. I have loved action movies since Tamara Dobson first took my breath away in Cleopatra Jones. Since then, I have never seen a movie that celebrated being African (and African-descendant) in modern day to the degree that Black Panther goes there. Even the bad guy (that delicious Michael B. Jordan!) was articulate, educated, and aware of where he came from.

Black Panther gives us a fantasy without ignoring reality. It shows us an Africa that we as Black Americans were forbidden to connect with. For generations, we were actually conditioned to see Africa only as our oppressors saw it–disrespectfully. Good thing that we no longer need permission to learn, tap into, and walk in who we are. Wakanda is a vision of a Motherland unspoiled by the Caucasian Contagion, a land of rich history, awesome tradition, remarkable heritage, lush greenness, advanced technology (was the car there, or not?), and HARMONY. Even when Wakandans don’t get along, they get along. Without destroying each other. Wakanda represents everything that we as a people can accomplish when we stop trying to assimilate other cultures and rebuild our community in OUR image.

 

*insert exhale here* Give me a minute.

This cast was AMAZING! Rarely do I have my pick of talented, charismatic Brethren in a movie this positive. I appreciated the realness, the no-pandering to stereotype. Every character was elevated out of that box that dictates how “black” we are allowed to be. Even minor character Isaach De Bankolé, who (understandably) had very few lines, captivated me in every scene that he was in; not just for the obvious reasons, but by sitting at every meeting of the Elders color-coordinated and Godfather-style. You cannot disrespect that level of chill.

There is room in the Wakandan sky for everybody to shine. Being “Black” doesn’t mean looking, acting, and thinking like everybody else.

Chad Boseman as T’Challa had me since Captain America: Civil War. Let me stop lying…Florence Kasumba, as T’Challa’s nameless bodyguard, had me in that scene where she stepped to Black Widow: “Move…or you will be moved.” As much as I love Scarlett Johannsen’s character, I was ready to see her get moved. Yes, Ms. Kasumba is in the movie, as Ayo, a member of the Dora Milaje, the king’s bodyguards.

And here comes the number-one reason that I LOVE Black Panther.

I am used to watching action movies where there may be only one female character—usually White—whose fighting skills give way to a skin-tight costume showing some level of thigh and cleavage. Piggish. Disrespectful. Condescending. Ridiculous. And insulting to every woman’s intelligence. Show me a movie where Dwayne Johnson or Jason Statham does a fight scene in a thong. THEN, we can have that discussion.

The women of Black Panther fought like I have been dying to see women in an action movie fight. The Dora Milaje’s uniforms have them looking like warriors, not sex objects. The issue of whether or not these women can handle themselves (and several opponents) is nonexistent. The question isn’t if they can take you down, but when they will. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cringed at a scene where a woman is training for hours/days/years to fight, only to go down with a single punch? Not so with Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia), Letitia Wright (Shuri) and Danai Gurira (General Okoye, the newest addition to my list of she-roes. They take a licking and keep right on ticking. Several times. With every scene featuring General Okoye, I was close to becoming that person in the theatre that you have to call management on for being a nuisance. Let me leave it at that. Mattel, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll already be working on a Black Panther Collection (you know, like you did for Wonder Woman?) featuring a General Okoye Doll. Do it because you’re not the only dollmakers on the planet, and they’ve already gotten started. I collect Black Dolls. Maybe I’ll be able to buy it from a Black-owned toy company.

Now that the world has seen Black women as the warriors that they were/are/still can be, this movie has SO inspired me to finish my novel.

WAKANDA FOREVER!

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