Black Panther is a film by black people, for black people –– from all across the deeply beautiful spectrum that is the African continent and its vast diaspora. It is a film for them and their ancestors.
For we who are white, I think it’s appropriate to consider a few things when it comes to this groundbreaking story:
1. Go see it.
Particularly in the theatre. Let’s put money into this epic and gorgeous project.
2. Don’t go see it in African apparel.
It isn’t cosplay. C’mon. We have to be better than that.
3. Recognize that this is a narrative which honors the breadth and depth of the African continent.
It’s not *just* a superhero movie. It’s also the only major film in recent memory that tells a real, honest, and true story of Africa –– in all its beautiful, visceral, sublime diversity. From the production design to the liturgies to the fighting styles to the music, so many parts of the continent are represented. There are no white saviors here. The story is fully inhabited and driven by unique, multi-faceted black human beings.
4. The film subversively combats tired old tropes of laziness, savagery, and (ironically) weakness, too often laid squarely on the shoulders of people of African descent.
Join Black Panther in its subversiveness. Don’t share the bullshit photos of white people being “brutalized” by black people at theatres. This is the fakest of fake news.
5. This isn’t just a movie that has *actual* diversity (and, refreshingly, a majority non-white cast).
It’s also a movie for generations to come, for all those black children who will, finally, see superheroes who look like them. This cannot be overstated.
6. The fictional nation of Wakanda is part of both the brilliance and tragedy of the story.
Imagine a part of Africa that wasn’t thoroughly colonized, chopped up, enslaved, or otherwise brutalized by white supremacy. Wakanda’s superior technology, its advancements in healthcare, its vast resources, its rich culture –– this is both a wonderful image and a serious condemnation of what has been wreaked on that land over centuries.
7. We need to celebrate Black Panther, *and* also recognize its powerful critique on both white cinema and white history.
And then work towards the world King T’Challa envisions –– one that will be open to working *together with* African nations for a future of peace and prosperity –– while never forgetting Killmonger’s devastating reality check when it comes to the generational trauma and injustice borne from centuries of oppression and chattel slavery towards those of African descent.
8. Don’t Police or Judge Black Viewer’s Reactions
“When you go see it, unless you specifically came with us…Don’t say shit to us. Don’t comment on our outfits, don’t report us to theatre management cuz we got chicken wings in our bag, don’t comment on our children’s behavior, whether to shame or praise…dont say shit. And if you touch our hair, we get to slap you.” – Jess Davis
9. Be Ready to Smash the Patriarchy.
“The film places black women as equals to and sometimes better then their male counterpart. They are strong , intelligent, and powerful.” – Robert Pitts