Black Panther answers why representation matters

As a person that doesn’t go out of her way to see many films, especially those that have to do with superheroes, I can honestly say that “Black Panther” is a damn good movie. For many reasons, and all a mix of subjective and objective observation. I guess there could be something of a hint at spoilers, but I’ll try my best to avoid them.

Firstly, let me announce that I am a woman of color. A black woman, of multiple ethnicities and it is loudly advertised to myself courtesy of the world from the moment I open my eyes to the instant I lay down to rest my curl-covered head. The United States has not made itself famous for its inclusivity. In fact, it is typical for me to go through many of my days feeling not quite welcome in many spaces. It’s a fact many can relate to.

Conversations of race specifically are becoming more common place in everyday life, thankfully and problematically. People are still afraid of these discussions, though. I will confess that I find myself in a state of contradiction, as I muddle my way through those very conversations, awkward and unsure. In its stages of infancy, the language for such discourse stumbles around on its new feet, a beautiful construction of wobbling destruction, hard-pressed to grow past its ignorance.

“Black Panther”, then, was and is a brief reprieve from such discomforts.

An afro-futuristic dream, its two-hour length temporarily obliterates the reality we do exist in for a fantasy that is rampant with black excellence, melanin-rich royalty, and touches on the dilemmas of life in the 21st century.

The characters are beautiful representations of the grandeur that is the political identity of the African and African American. Kings and queens of Wakanda, with technology beyond the best facsimiles found in the Eurocentric countries they cloak themselves from. They are truly excellent.

This film offers us a glimpse into something so emotional, so liberating and so heartbreaking. I see royalty, draped in fine cloth; a country with soul-quenching culture; a society with access to resources and the inclination to provide them for their communities, and it’s all thanks to the brilliant minds that move pretty, brown hands, lovely Black human beings. And yet, where is that in this world, in this reality?

I guess that’s what films are for. The creative being that has a compulsion to manifest their own reality, and this representation matters, especially now. The mind conjures fantastic creations, and there are some things that are too large for just one person, or a group of people, to hold. It needs to be for the world. In this instance, art moves beyond the scope of artistic appreciation, and calls us to question, to discuss, to continue fearlessly imagining and creating our world.

I myself have had these questions my entire life, and now a declaration proudly joins them: Wakanda forever.

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