by Alma Musvosvi
Every time I talk about Black Panther I tear up. To the average person this might seem ridiculous, but it actually takes a decent amount of effort on my part to keep tears from flowing. I know, embarrassing, but that’s how important this movie is to me and many people who look me. It has not even come out yet, but it has started, what I would say, nothing short of a movement. And, honestly, I wouldn’t expect anything less. Most of us, and by us I mean black people, have been waiting our whole lives for a movie like this.
If you’re white, seeing people in the media who look like you is not only normal, it’s the standard. White movies are just movies, but movies with a predominantly black cast have to be modified and are called black movies. When we do see ourselves in movies, it is usually to fill a diversity quota or portray an overplayed stereotype.
Black Panther challenges these norms. First of all, it’s a Marvel movie. If you have seen any of the previous Marvel movies, then you know that all the main superheroes and the majority of the cast have been white. They are mainstream, highly anticipated, (white) movies. Black Panther on the other hand, has an almost entirely black cast. For the first time, black people get to be the stars in mainstream, unmodified movies. Secondly, we get to see ourselves as complex, multifaceted individuals. In Black Panther, we are not limited to the role of sassy black friend. We are the hero, villain and everything in between.
This movie goes several steps further because it beautifully showcases African culture. This is extremely important because, while many white Americans can type their last name into ancestry.com and download a detailed family history, black Americans have not been afforded the same luxury. Because of slavery, many black Americans know little to nothing about their roots.
Africans are almost exclusively shown in the media as starving, helpless individuals who desperately need foreign aid and intervention. Black Panther address both of these group’s needs. Black Americans get a glimpse of the culture that was stolen from them, and Africans get to see themselves as they are; intelligent, beautiful people who are more than capable of ruling themselves. That is revolutionary.
If you didn’t understand why a conversation about Black Panther was enough to conjure up tears, I hope you do now. I hope you understand the importance of this movie and choose to support it. Black Panther is the first movie of its kind, and I hope it’s not the last.