Black Panther is an epic that every African-American must watch. I never thought I'd see a Hollywood movie that goes over the heads of white people, but the latest Marvel film does the trick. Black Panther speaks in a code only black revolutionary minds can understand.
It's deep because it shows the world what Africa, the motherland, could have been had it not been raped and pillaged by white conquerors. The fictional country of Wakanda — where the title character, T'Challa, AKA the Black Panther, reigns as king and protector — gives audiences a window into what black power can achieve through the natural resources at its disposal. Wakanda is a technologically advanced society thanks to vibranium, a precious metal that absorbs sound waves and other vibrations that make it stronger and difficult to destroy. T'Challa's father, T'Chaka, who discovered vibranium, makes Wakanda invisible to the outside world to protect his country's immensely valuable natural resource.
The movie's conflict centers on T'Challa's struggle for power against Erik Killmonger, a by-any-means-necessary revolutionary who wants to use vibranium to go to war with white people for oppressing blacks in America. Killmonger represents the fed-up id of the black diaspora kept down for centuries through slavery, Jim Crow laws, segregation, lynchings, disproportionate conviction and incarceration rates, and drug- and gang-related violence. T'Challa wants to use his country's most valuable resource for more altruistic purposes.
Vibranium could easily be a metaphor for diamonds, the most precious stone in the world that has been mined on the Dark Continent to the detriment of the African people for ages. If Africans could have isolated themselves from the rest of the world, their nations would be the true global powers.
It's no coincidence the Black Panther comic book character was created in 1966, at the height of the civil rights movement. The movie version is breaking down stereotypes too. It's the first major film in which black people aren't portrayed as suffering slaves, dope-dealing gangbangers, or the house Negro in Django Unchained.
I can't wait for the sequel.
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