What “Black Panther” Means For The African Diaspora

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Christopher Aluka Berry/Reuters
Christopher Aluka Berry/Reuters

Marvel’s long-awaited Superhero blockbuster Black Panther was finally released last weekend, and the reactions have been…intense, to say the least. With its budget of $200 million and an all black and brown cast (complete with a black director AND a black executive producer), to say that this is a poignant moment in history is an understatement.

Finally, black people are allowed a film that is not a tear-jerker about slavery; a film that does not perpetuate dated, offensive stereotypes of the African diaspora; a film that does not portray Africa as a continent of war lords, bloodshed, and violence. Alas, we are allowed a movie that showcases a positive portrayal of Africa- a superhero movie at that, complete with a cast of strong, black, powerful, bad a** characters. Did I mention that they’re all black? And not only that, the story takes place in an era where the most technologically advanced nation in the world is an African country named Wakanda.

And the positive reactions to the film from the black community have been so overwhelming that critics say it has ignited a movement.

In a chilling interview with The View, Lupita Nyong’o stressed the importance of having the film center around a prosperous African        nation. “Wakanda is special because it was never colonized”, she emphasized. “So what we can see there for all of us is a re-imagining of what would have been possible had Africa been allowed to realize itself for itself. And that’s a beautiful place.”

Wakanda is the Africa that was never violated, exploited, and depleted by colonization and European imperialism. And the impact that Black Panther has had on black and brown children worldwide is worth noting as well.

Finally, our children have a positive representation of Africa to look up to- an image of Africa that isn’t dominated by poverty and violence. And the best part about it, is that they don’t even realize that they are learning at the same they are being entertained. Unbeknownst to them, as they argue over which Black Panther superhero they’d rather be for Halloween, they are enriching their minds with positive, powerful representations of strong black individuals.

With that being said, let us all just collectively take a moment to appreciate the masterpiece that is Black Panther.

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