On February 15, the Marvel Film, Black Panther hit the Big Screen. Not only was the film epic on multiple levels, but the responses on opening night. It felt like a family reunion, bigger even. I arrived ten deep and a friend jokingly inquired as to when my mix tape was coming out. There were photographers and radio stations. I think I even saw a black carpet. For me, it carried a deeper meaning since, as a child of the comics, I only had Black Panther (T’Challa) and Power Man (Luke Cage) and Storm (Ororo Munroe) . My other favorite was Nightcrawler (Kurt Wagner), he is blueback.
Sure I’ve heard all of the pundits speak about it not being a black film or how people are so excited over a fictitious character and how we still dropped million$ into a non black organization and barely support black films. If someone delivers good news, it really doesn’t matter the color of the mouth. Black Panther is an illustration, a parable of the possibilities. What would Africa be had it not been colonized? Had it not been stripped, raped, and impregnated by the ones with the biggest guns and smallest hearts? How far our spirituality linked with impending inventions would have advanced us had it not been for a mass interruption, spiritual rerouting, and consequential disconnect with the ancestral paths, the cosmological connections that already had a knowledge of life beyond this planet? Where would be be had we not been injected with an overdose of patriarchal martial destructive genes spliced into our cerebral conduct? Be aware that when I speak of Africa, I speak not of Africa as a continent only because we know her children stretch way beyond that real estate. This Afrofuturistic vision, Black Panther, in the incubator of the imagination gives us a glimpse of the possibilities. It was birthed from the imagination: the seat of greatness. Greatness inspires greatness…or awakens it.
Now let’s look at our hero T’Challa and his proposed antagonist, Erik Killmonger. If you haven’t seen the film, tune out. This is a spoiler alert. Wakanda, under the rulership of a reign of Black Panthers, prides itself on being untouched by the world at large, thereby avoiding wars, outside influence, rendering it free to develop to its fullness. Killmonger, a misplaced Wakandan, spouts razor sharp truth in almost every statement about the colonizers and what a revolution should be about. His method is to use the power, wealth, and developments of Wakanda to set about the freedom of the oppressed through warfare. Although seemingly ruthless in his quest and temporary claim to the throne, you must understand that he, unlike T’challa, has experienced first hand the maggots of oppression eating the soul of a people. These two men reflect Professor Xavier and Magneto from the X-Men series, Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Dubois, Dr. King and Malcolm X, the SCLC and the Black Panther Party. The story isn’t new. It’s not about who is right and who is wrong. It about what the truth of what we need as defined by the ones who need it. What we must realize is that they are two sides of the same coin. The night and the day of a complete revolution. The ebb and flow of the same man. This is most evident in the underground (allegory) fight between the two Panthers. It not one against the other, it’s one against himself. T’Challa, in the end makes good on the hope of Erik when he decides to extend the hand of liberation beyond Wakanda. There comes a time for a reckoning within, united by a truth that may not always be pretty. Fact or fiction, the power is there if you care to find it. Now is a time for using what you have to do what you can with it. A time to cease the war against ourselves and flow into the power of One: One people, One purpose, One love.