Ebony Xscape

*BOOK AND MOVIE SPOILERS AHEAD*

As a creator of color, I thought that Black Panther would have hit me the hardest as being a highlight of my year seeing an all black cast, but there was something special about Ava Duvernay’s interpretaion of A Wrinkle in Time. I saw myself more in a Wrinkle in Time than I did in Black Panther. I suppose that is because Ava showed people how to live in the present, while Black Panther showed people what can be imagined and can come to fruition. Read More

SPOILERS AHEAD! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

I’ll be discussing Black Panther as a storyteller aspiring to get my own work out in the public. I hope you enjoy it! It was actually hard to sit down and capture my thoughts about Black Panther and how it made me feel. There is no word or phrase that could capture the light that I felt in me. Y’all I wanted to cry when I left the theater…and also run and skip through a sunny meadow. Also, where’s my passport? I’m bouncing to Wakanda!

Wakanda


In the midst of writing my own story, I have been getting discouraged because I am currently in the midst of Act II where I am moving between locations and really trying to make the reader believe in the world that I am building around my characters. Black Panther was particularly refreshing because of that worldbuilding. It’s not like viewers were given the grand tour of Wakanda, but it was believable and extraordinary enough that I’m literally upset that I can’t pack up and move. My hope as a creator is to give a frame for interesting settings, in the same way, meaning that I describe it enough while leaving room for the viewer to fill in nitpicky details. What I mean is Ryan Coogler didn’t go through absolutely everything in Wakanda as if I were getting a traveler’s guide or a history book. The crew decided that they would give viewers a taste that was good enough to encourage the viewers to imagine the rest of the buffet, so to speak.

The Women


Hot. Damn.

That is all. Just kidding.

Excuse my language, but I have no better words for how amazing it was to see so many different types of female characters in the film. The fact that each of the women in the film had the agency to be who they wanted to be, rather than be forced into a role that didn’t feel right or genuine for them. I’m all for women who want to be warriors just as much as I’m all for women who want to be traditionally girly. The thing that makes me happy is that fact that the women in the film had the right to choose and you could see how they were satisfied and excelled in the roles in the Wakandan society because of that. The Dora Milaje was fierce.

There’s no question about it and I admire the non-withholding nature of their inner warriors as well as their strong patriotism in defending the nation and the king. Nakia does not necessarily fit into the Dora Milaje’s framework because she is not so much of a traditionalist. She goes off as a spy to do a lone wolf exploration of the world and she even helps T’Challa realize the disparities in the world outside of Wakanda. She has the idea of making a bridge between Wakanda and the rest of the world. Shuri is a kid genius who is not afraid to shine in the lab and Wakanda is not afraid to let her. This freedom and agency could teach the rest of us about how people have to shine in their own way. The only thing we can do is either shun them and silence or nurture them and encourage their true colors. It’s like if you have a seed that you plant and it grows to be an apple tree rather than the orange tree you were expecting it to be. Are you going to preen and chop down the tree until it turns to an orange tree or are you going to cherish it’s unexpected ability to provide you with apples? Wakanda’s telling us to get down with those apples. Or oranges. Or flowers. Whatever is in you.

Who’s the Villain and who’s the Hero? T’Challa and/or Killmonger?


 

Beyond worldbuilding, the characterization and character development in this movie was very compelling and thought-provoking. I was particularly fascinated with Killmonger because it seems like it is easy to identify him on the surface as a villain, but he makes viewers and even T’challa uncomfortable because there is truth to his suffering and anger. The movie showed the parallels and intersections between T’challa and Killmonger, but their experiences in the Ancestral Plain were very telling. When T’chala goes to the Ancestral Plain, he is a grown man facing his murdered father with no boundaries or barriers. When Killmonger goes to the Ancestral Plain, he is initially a little boy, the same lost little boy who lost his father at the hands of the people from the land that his father spoke so fondly about. Killmonger’s childhood self is also conditioned and this is evident when his father says, “No tears for me?” and Killmonger’s child self-responds, “Everybody dies. That’s just life around here.” Since we imagine Black Panther in a present-day aspect, it is easy to imagine how over policing and loss of life in the African American community made Killmonger face more death than any child should see. Part of Killmonger’s issue is that for all the violence and killing he does as a grown man, he is still that little boy who lost his father and felt disowned by his people.

His solution is to do what was done to him as a black kid from Oakland and as a disowned Wakandan. He really does want better for people of color, but he is so caught up in his rage that he will not let go of his “by whatever means necessary” policy. All those complications make Killmonger interesting because it’s not just a case of “oh, he is the villain and take him down.” He makes you uncomfortable because he has some truths and he is so misguided that you just wish he had some sort of redemption beyond the recognition that you could see in his eyes when T’challa struck him with a spear.

 

T’challa’s discomfort speaks volumes too. Even during the Black Panther discussion at the Appollo, Chadwick Boseman spoke about how T’Challa is not totally clean as a hero and could even be considered an enemy. He said that T’challa had “a vibranium spoon in his mouth,” meaning that while Wakanda is great and life’s pretty good, they have had their backs turned on people around the world. The isolation policy can be understood for fear of being exploited for the resources and not wanting to drain Wakanda with major conflicts, much like the rest of the countries in Africa. However, T’challa realizes that while Wakanda has protected itself, there is a discomfort that comes upon him when he thinks about the suffering and conflict in the rest of the world. A symbol of that is Killmonger because he had to directly deal with the effects of Western Imperialism, while T’Challa was born into a higher caste so to speak and privilege. This also speaks to a bigger idea of when certain people who reach goals do not take the time to reach back to the people behind them to help bring them along. Rather, they shun the people behind them because they believe in the mentality of “I have my thing. Oh, you don’t? Sorry, not helping you because I got what I want.”

black panther

I suppose the thing that saves T’Challa is that Killmonger forces him to connect with the racial and imperialistic suffering that he missed out on. In that way, Killmonger also has some heroic qualities to him. Although Killmonger did not live, T’Challa bears the weight of his ancestors sins so to speak and he decides to open up Wakanda to the world so that he can change the course of life for people outside of Wakanda, which is symbolized by the kid that T’Challa speaks to at the end of the movie in Oakland.

There are so many more things I could talk about with this movie, but these were real standout topics to me as a storyteller. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be waiting on my Okoye Pop Funko. Also, what did you think of the movie? Let me know in the comments below.

Ya’ll I saw Black Panther on Friday, February 16, 2018 and I am starstruck and inspired. Yeah, all the stars are closer. As a person of color, seeing this movie definitely had an impact of how I view Black Panther. When I first heard Black Panther, all I knew was that it was a fists up fros out group in the 60’s filled with people of color tirelessly fighting for their rights. I had no idea that at the same time the title Black Panther was bestowed upon a hero. I’m not gonna lie. I didn’t see Avengers Civil War, but I did see clips of the trailers and there was this man running around in a black cat suit. So I was interested and so I googled and so my mom bought the comics. I was so hype to learn about a black hero, an African hero and that he came from an Afrofuturism El Dorado of a city hidden in Africa.
The nature of the story and how it was portrayed on screen shatters stereotypes about Africa and people of color in general in terms of humanization, intelligence, diversity, technology, and culture. Ya’ll I came to the movie in a Dora Milaje shirt and a Wakanda Foreign Exchange student hoodie wrapped around my waist. I was confident that this movie was gonna be bomb and it truly was. It felt so good to look at the characters as dimensional humans who made mistakes and tried to find their pathway, whether it led them to good or evil and not focus on their blackness as a tainting feature. Still, their blackness spoke volumes from the scenes in Oakland, California to Killmonger’s antics and T’Challa’s home in Wakanda.

Black Panther
Believe the hype. It is really good and beyond my liking it as a person of color that gets to see a dynamic superhero of color, Black Panther is genuinely an interesting hero and the world of Wakanda is intriguing as well. As many have said, this isn’t just a nice addition to the Marvel universe. Black Panther is also just a great film and a great story to see even if you know nothing about the Marvel universe. My only issue is that I wanna see more Wakanda and I gotta wait until it’s out on DVD to get some screenshots or find a Wakanda world book or something, which would be really helpful given that I’m having worldbuilding issues in my current WIP.
But thats not all I wanted to talk about. I’m so proud of the people involved in Black Panther because it serves as inspiration for me. I’m writing my own book in the vein of Afrofuturism, but I’m nowhere near done, so I can’t stand with these bomb creatives, but they are helping to push me along. Naturally, since I am still writing, I can’t tell you much but I can show you what’s inspiring me, which is why I opened up my secret Pinterest board on my book…


 

There’ll be a post about my writing later and the general ideas of the book.
I hope that we keep seeing more films about heroes of color and the worlds that they come from. I felt like a kid when I went to go see this movie and I can’t imagine what it was like for the little black girl who walked past me in the theater to see herself on screen in so many different characters with the privilege to so many different identities. Keep Xscaping! Wakanda Forever!

There was a time when I had a lot of anxiety about going into another dance class or any class that was focused on physical movement because of an experience I had when I was in high school. Read More

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