February is now over, and I hope that by now most of you would have already gone out to watch the Black Panther movie [at least once]. Today, I am going to take a little moment to talk about it. Although I could use countless posts to discuss my love for the movie or spend hours debating the movie, the movement and what it means for everyone, there are countless bloggers who have already spoken about those aspects of the Black Panther and, I think, did it justice. If you want to get in-depth analysis and critique of the actors, the soundtrack, colors, setting, or the “thirst” [yes, I have seen social media thirst at a new level…Yes, Winston Duke, Tobago ground provisions fed you well!], I would suggest you go and read posts on the movie from bloggers such as Luvvie or Black Nerd Problems. They all did a great job in summing up Black Panther, and their writing styles are both refreshing that they had me cracking up while keeping me in deep thought all at the same time. Instead today, however, I am going to go micro in my opinion and focus on what me and mine got from the movie, and how we felt [just on three things out of the hundreds, I promise].
As much as I would have loved to have taken my babies out for the Thursday night premier, I wanted all my babies with me, so we did not see the movie until Saturday 18th…trust me waiting two days was hard. Dressed in our dashiki tops, my family went to see the movie together, each of us reflecting our own personal style. I am a strong advocate for spending time with your children and providing them with opportunities not only to be entertained but also to be educated and uplifted. One of my daughters thought that we were being a bit extra with the coordinating outfits, by the time she walked into the cinema, she was transformed into a Wakandan citizen. The thoughts of being over-the-top and having people looking at her quickly escaped her mind as she happily expressed her ‘Wakanda identity’ openly, which even included her random dance moves showing her excitement and pride as we moved throughout the many ‘well dressed’ moviegoers. You see, even though she was originally excited to see the movie based on the perfectly executed tv commercials [I must say those ads had many people salivating for months waiting for this moment], it was more than that. What some people see/saw as being too “Extra” with moviegoers getting all dressed up to attend a movie, actually offered her (and many kids like her) an opportunity to connect with others. They didn’t see the light skinned or dark skinned; she didn’t see the Caribbean, American, African, European; she saw everyone united as one group of people with the common goal of watching a two hour plus movie—and hopefully not having to take any bathroom breaks during the entire showing. Being surrounded by people who, despite their economic, political or cultural differences, were smiling and acknowledging each other’s outfits and their simple existence, was exciting to her. She was not just a number within a crowd, she was part of the energy and I could see that she loved it.
Being blessed with daughters, I took real pride in the way this movie depicted women, especially the role of Ramonda. Though she stood as the regal queen of Wakanda, at the end of the day she was T’Challa’s mother and the type of woman who did not hide behind nobility and society’s expectations… she was the mother who would speak life into her son during his battles. Ms. Angela Bassett played that role with perfection. As Mothers, we must be very aware of the words we speak to and over our children. Life is a battle. Our children are facing more and more distractions that are determined to pull them away from their God-given purpose. You must speak life into your children before you send them out into the world. Just as Ramonda shouted “Show him who you are” as T’Challa fought M’Baku, or the subtle strength she bestowed when she told him “My son, it is your time,” so too you have to cover your babies. You have to lift them up. You have to let them know that Mommy, Daddy, Aunty, Uncle, Teacher, the whole village/neighborhood is behind them and believes in them. I strongly believe in praying for your loved ones, especially your immediate family members. However, prayer without works is dead, and to pray in silence and not speak it into them, in my mind, is useless. Words are powerful and hearing them acts both as a shield and a sword to protect and defend our children and loved ones when they are out in the world facing their daily battles.
Then there is the internal battle that T’Challa had to face. This was a battle that he had to encounter not just within himself, but physically and publicly in the personification of Killmonger. T’Challa [in my opinion] had to come face to face with the reality that even though he loved and respected his father, T’Chaka was a flawed man with flawed beliefs. I know many people have spoken on their sociopolitical perspectives of what T’Chaka did and why Wakanda had to remain a secret. I am not going to delve into that discussion at this moment, as I think it has been debated beautifully by both sides and I don’t have anything new to add. What I would focus on, however, is how I can appreciate this battle and how it does act as a visualization of what many of us face daily. Many of us are standing in a position where we border the past and the future and are left trying to find our true place along our journey. Though we acknowledge the past and the foundation for what it is, we can see the flaws in the rationale that hold it together. We are chained by love to what we held dear and, in many ways, to what felt comfortable. Unfortunately, this comfort is temporary as we are pulled by the yearning to grow and develop into what naturally is part of our evolution. We want to do the right thing, but we know deep down that we are doing it for the wrong reasons. Our fear to not upset the predetermined balance leaves us teetering and never fully confident in what we should do next, who we should leave behind and how far we should go. Like T’Challa, there comes a time when the universe will force you to decide, regardless of whether you think you are ready for it or not. The demons that we keep closeted from our past tend to have a nasty way of showing up at our doorstep, and I doubt many of them show up looking like Michael B Jordan in that museum scene [again, the casting of this movie just makes a woman say “thank you”].
At the end of the day when the credits have all been read [I do hope you stayed until that screen finally went completely black. If not, you need to go back and watch it again], you are going to take from the movie what you choose to take from it. You may see it as one of the best Marvel movies ever—I may be biased—or you may think that it was just okay. You may find faults with the movie and the actors [it is your human right to form your own opinion, even if flawed]. What I do hope that you take from the movie is a greater love for you. No matter your race or gender, I am hoping that you will be able to see yourself within the characters, setting, soundtrack and storyline, and find an appreciation of who you are and the journey you are on. I hope that when you see the cosmic beauty of Lupita and Danai’s characters, Nakia and Okoye, you see that, no matter your diverse role or outlook on life, your purpose is greater than just you and your decisions can change not just your fate in life but the fate of others.
I want you to live life with the excitement for learning and implementing that Letitia Wright embodies in Shuri. Wrapped in her witty personality, I want you to similarly love life and to take every opportunity not to just accept what is, but to take it and make it better. Grab hold of every chance given, and even when it is not given, break a few barriers and create what wasn’t there but what should have been. And when you have had all of that wrapped up and perfected, I want you to wake up each day with the savage sarcasm as expressed by Winston Duke as M’Baku. I want you to face each obstacle with unrestricted humor, knowing that, at the end of the day, you will be better than you were at the beginning. And, if all else fails, just face life with a straight face and tell it…” if you say one more word I’ll feed you to my children!”
****I do not own the rights to any of the images used in this blog post (with the exception of my family photo)