After taking like, forever, it finally came: Black Panther. A big, beautiful, black ass spectacle that was everything we expected. If you were like me, you had been squealing and clenching your butt cheeks since you saw that first picture that circulated around social media, listing the cast. When was that, like, two years ago?
And I didn’t believe it, at first. Because Jesus Christ, would you look at all that black excellence??? It was too good to be true. Surely, this was a set up, and we were gonna get to the theater and T’challa was gonna be that dude who played Chauncey in Menace to Society and like, every villain in every low-budget Black movie:
But as time went on, it was confirmed – Marvel was indeed making a movie about Wakanda. And the rumors about the cast were correct – an array of beautiful, sculpted, moisturized, highly accomplished actors.
Not just one, y’all. But a bunch of ’em. All in the same movie. On the same set. At the same damn time.
And Hollywood didn’t even blow up, or nothin’.
Listen. I was already a disciple of all things Marvel – a scholar of the Marvel Universe, if you will, investigating theories of possible motives and predicting future connections…
So like many other Marvel Heads, this was good news. And after what felt like forever, the movie finally opened.
(No spoilers here – but JESUS GUYS, IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT BY NOW…)
But you know what was the best part, for me? Watching all of the extra-ness of the fans. Honey, my people went in, you hear me? All over the Diaspora – D.C., Chicago, P.R., Lagos, London, Accra… folks showed up in traditional African regalia , djembe players lined up in the lobby, folks walked in on rose petals, and groups of young people danced choreographed routines.
It was awesome to see, really. Just the pure, unfettered joy that this movie caused. It even made me happy, and I hate everything, Fam.
And even though we knew that our euphoria was fleeting, we celebrated – just for a little while, at least, our beautiful blackness being pushed front and center on film.
The ashy comments began. They started slowly, at first – a trickle of dry-moutheded critiques of the hordes of people in their traditional African outfits. Mostly from that “elite” group of black people who consider themselves the gate keepers of all things African – the Shea Butteratti, always there to point out what we don’t know, but rarely there for anything else.
This was quickly followed by another wave of chewed-up-cuticle-finger-wagging. This type we’ve seen before: the “if y’all had shown up to vote the way y’all ran to this movie, Trump wouldn’t have won.”
Which, oh my GOD is so freaking inaccurate and just flat out STUPID AS FK…
I gotta tell y’all, I wasn’t angry about this as much as I was disappointed. Mostly because of the unabashed misuse of logic in that statement. But also because of who was passing that shit off as fact.
And honestly, I couldn’t believe that people were mad about the traditional clothes-thing. Ironically, it was from the same folks who claim to be devoted to educating the Black community about its history and origin. Why wasn’t this obvious attempt at reclaiming some of that historical connection seen as that? Why was the celebration of seeing people who looked like us on film seen as a win for us, for Christ’s sake, instead of as evidence of our intellectual or moral deficiency?
And it hurts, Fam. Especially now, with all the Beckys and Megans out here, calling the police on us just for being black and alive, and all the increasingly brave MAGA hat-wearing thugs who continue to throw rocks and then run like playground bullies when they occasionally pick the wrong one on the subway…
And the overall atmosphere of violence and potential violence teetering over us like a boulder (and we’re sitting here like Wile E Coyote with a tiny ass umbrella)…
And most of us who are still in our right minds are just out here trying to make it through our normal days without punching bare-fisted holes in the wall, and all we want is just a small break from the fuckery that floods our WiFi and our airwaves on the DAILY…
I mean, it would be nice to just be happy about some shit and not get heat from anyone. Without our behavior being seen as some kind of negative commentary on my character or a lack of decorum. Especially from those who look like me.
To be left alone, for the love of Christmas.
Like y’all do the white folks.