10 Reasons Why Black Panther is Actually Revolutionary
I originally tried to stay away from commenting but was provoked (kindly) to say something, so I’ve done my very best to try to find the words after days of being, for the first time in my life, literally speechless. When I say something, it’s never short. I hope I can find the right words so that you can read to the end:
ONE: It’s about and made by people of colour with a cast that is majority Black.
From the director, Ryan Coogler, to the actors, many who were not well known but come from places like Guyana (Letitia Wright) and Tobago (Winston Duke), to Sekani Solomon, a young Tobagonian motion graphics artist who worked on the animation, a great number of Black people were involved in this movie. I can’t claim that the total crew was majority Black, but the face of the movie, the actors were, and it was incredible watching and delving deep into a world run by people of colour. It was gorgeous, it was powerful, it was inspiring, it was credible, it was moving, it was intelligent, it was thought-provoking, it was so many things that people of colour are not often given credit for. It showed them leading the helm and doing that phenomenally. Watching it felt like watching truth.
TWO: It appeals to, impresses and holds the attention of people of all races.
There have been majority Black-created and acted movies in the past but they mostly appealed to other people of colour and got most of their air time on niche stations like BET. No such movie has yet to create anywhere near this sort of stir or the crazy amount of box office revenue that Black Panther is bringing in. Even Chadwick Boseman, the man who played Black Panther, is now one of the highest paid actors. Why this is so important is that the stories, lives, products, opinions, talents, plights, history and creations of people of colour should ALWAYS appeal to people of all races. They should always draw masses, hold equal importance, be within and among the conversations started and continued by people of other races. Black Panther finally levels the conversation out, putting people of colour at the global dinner party table, getting everyone around to open their eyes and focus and as a result be compelled.
THREE: It poignantly represents one of the most tragic paradigms of our age: the fate of so many of our young Black men.
Who didn’t feel pain for the villain in this movie? Who didn’t wish that somehow he had a second chance at a better life after taking the time to understand his background, his past and the motivations behind his anger and crimes? On the contrary, which one of us takes the time to consider what the story might have been of the last young Black man we heard of who was stabbed to death or the one who shot and killed someone from another gang or the one who kidnapped your friend’s, friend’s, cousin’s mother? Most of these stories don’t even get reported in big cities like London, despite the rising level of knife crimes. Which one of us even thinks twice about the story of the young Black man in a hoodie walking towards you before you cross the road or hold tighter to your bag? This is the part of the storyline that touched me the most, that felt the realest. Finally, people were compelled to stop and listen to it and hopefully feel a bit of the pain of its tragedy.
FOUR: It promotes counter-cultural servant leadership in such a beautiful way.
At the beginning the father of the Black Panther told him that it is very hard for people with a heart like his to be good leaders. This rings so true. We just have to look around us and see how the politicians and leaders who started with the right intentions so often become corrupt or resign and the leaders who thrive are often the ones who are brazen and numbed to people’s pain and suffering. Yet this movie raises up and makes tremendously successful a leader with a heart for the poor, a heart for peace, a heart for relationship and commitment and a heart for family. He does not lead by force, he leads with his heart and so has the allegiance of people close to him who know his heart. He stands up against even his father when it is the right thing to do. He stands up for justice, without compromise, even though he has been advised that compromise is the only way. He empowers others who in the past have brought him down or lacked faith in him, by recognising their strength. Ultimately, he wasn’t successful on his own, but as a result of all those he served well who fought and sacrificed alongside him.
FIVE: It demonstrates the powerful combination of a woman’s strength under submission.
The feminist movement the often tells women they don’t need men, that they can rule and men are weak and greedy and have taken too much from women and now need to pay back with interest. Black Panther empowers women by illustrating their incredible strength, resolve, intelligence, beauty, compassion and commitment, some of the greatest qualities of women. Yet the women in the movie fought for the men, they obeyed the men, they cared deeply for the men in their lives. They helped the men without reigning over and bossing the men around. Watching their submission to the men and commitment to empowering the men around them was like watching the sun explode. It was POWERFUL.
SIX: It turns colonialism on its head, asking a ‘what if’ question and blowing us away with the answer.
Maybe this is a question only I have asked or maybe not. It is the question: ‘If Africa is so rich in resources and Europe was so resource poor, how come the power struggle isn’t the other way around? How come Africans, as the Europeans invaded their nations, didn’t utilise their resources to exert power over those Europeans, capture them, and send them weeping back to their smaller, colder countries?’ Black Panther not only asks this question but the answer it gives is so beautiful it is excellent, as in it is perfectly beautiful. The people of Wakanda, despite their resources and the possibility of using those resources to subdue every colonial power of the past, they choose not to, they choose peace, they choose to continue to enrich the lives of their fellow men to ensure that they thrive, and ultimately they choose to do the same for people of colour in Africa and beyond. The do not choose war. They do not choose hatred. They do not choose to enslave others. They do not choose to kill others. They do not choose to take power by force. Instead they choose something far more powerful, love. I would like to think that Africans of the past did not have plans to overthrow other nations by force and enslave them because they were a people mostly concerned with nourishing the lives of those around them and enjoying their resources.
SEVEN: It respects, honours and uplifts the beautiful Black race.
EIGHT: It is full of hope in a Hollywood that’s becoming increasingly dark.
Netflix is the primary purveyor of large amounts of quality content today. If you take a cross-section of their content you may notice that the majority of it is set on dark pretexts, some way or the other. I won’t go into this as I believe to most people this would be clear. Black Panther, on the other hand, is a story of hope, that nations can thrive, that they can be ruled by someone with a heart for the people, that good prevails, that the poor will be looked after, that there are people out there willing to fight for what is right and good. I did not feel after the movie, as I do with so many other things I watch, a heavy sense of dread, hopelessness, sadness or confusion.
NINE: It has created the right kind of conversation, finally.
Basically, it has us talking about the stuff I mentioned above, not about the statistics that benefit and fuel racist agendas and not colour-blind conversations between people who never had a close friend of colour to know what a privilege it is to be exposed to, experience and enjoy the African and Afro-Caribbean and African American cultures. It makes me proud that 20% of my genes trace my ancestors to Africa. Really, all people of colour should be proud to be so and all people should be able to embrace persons of colour. This is not the reality and we know this. Black Panther is helping to make it a little more of the reality. Any conversation that does that is revolutionary and essential.
TEN: To describe it, one needs to ponder long and hard to find the right words.
I am sorry if I haven’t done it justice. Like any blog, I will know if I haven’t by any lack of readership. Here I tried my best. I know that there will be contrasting opinions. I welcome them. Tell me what you thought. Use your words. Mine are always limited. All I know is that I truly enjoyed the film, more than I have enjoyed most films. It has inspired me in so many ways. It has changed my perspectives and the course of my life and my approach to it. I would love to hear from anyone who was impacted in a massive way by this film.