Our youth are not the only ones benefiting from seeing blacks represented on screen. No matter if we’d like to admit it or not, seeing our likeness – or lack thereof – on any screen impacts our lives. The characters we see, we learn to identify with, gravitate towards, love, cry with, and aspire to mimic their ideal qualities. Those who control the stories, control the narrative. This is why “Black Panther” is a win for Black writers.
“If she can’t see it, she can’t do it!”
How are we, as Black writers, supposed to feel confident in our out-of-the-box writing abilities if we are continually pushed to the sidelines? How can we feel free to add expressions of strength, poise, and culture to pieces when we fear that they won’t be accepted by our peers or the mainstream?
“Black Panther” was a great illustration of merging fantasy with realism, history with futuristic creation, popular culture with Afrocentric culture. As a writer, it forces me to believe that this is a huge win for us. In just two weekends, this gargantuan success comes in second only to “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” as the best-grossing film in a sophomore weekend ($704M), The Wall Street Journal reports. Having only the largest fantasy film company, Marvel, producing the film was already a stamp of approval. Seeing the Marvel hallmark of quirky one-liners and somewhat predictable ‘this will happen next,’ made me smile over and over as I thought about what a great job everyone had done.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a proud Black woman who knows a great deal about the contributions of African-Americans thanks to my mother who reinforced positive Black heroes in our house 365. But…I am tired of seeing the same historical depictions of us as slaves fighting for our freedom. Fighting to dream. Fighting to belong. Fighting to achieve. I want to feel like we can be superior to other cultures and envied for research, ahead of the game in technology, or respected as kings and queens.
I was amazed at the depth of the storyline, while also being quite impressed with the references to traditional African garb, hairstyles, and culture. Now, we should feel more freedom to be our authentic, creative selves as a Black writers. It's time that we are more in control of the narrative describing us. I believe that “Black Panther” has opened a door for other off-the-wall thinking that will produce great TV and film entertainment that will result in more wins for Black culture, as well as greater costume options during Halloween!