by L.W. Barker
February 16, 2018, dubbed ‘the blackest night in America’ by the black community was the opening night of Marvel Studios’ newest superhero film, Black Panther. And black audiences showed up en masse (some over a dozen family/friends strong) to support the film and embrace the mythos of Black Panther.
A brief history…Wakanda is a place untouched by slavery, but blessed with Vibranium, a rare and virtually indestructible metal derived from an ancient meteor that hit the area long ago. Thus, Black Panther’s costume and Wakanda are technologically-advanced products of Vibranium.
Now, seeing Wakanda onscreen, a black centric mythical kingdom of doctors, scientists, inventors, etc., you have to wonder, what we as a people would have been like minus the forced separation and bondage of slavery. It is a symbol of who we were as a people in Africa, who we could have been as a culture, and most importantly, it also shows the wonders that could be accomplished if we all came together once and for all as a people.
A bit more history…the Dora Milaje are a pool of highly-skilled special forces like women who are recruited from every tribe in Wakanda. The Dora Milaje is also an ancient tribal tradition in which maidens were assembled as potential queens for an unmarried king. However, the daughters of Wakanda, Nakia and Okoye, became the first Dora Milaje to serve under T’Challa, and were viewed by the king as sisters, instead of wives-in-training.
The strong willingness and overall strength of the Dora Milaje represents the daily toll and labor that every black woman goes through in our society. And their natural beauty reminds us that black is beautiful, and society’s negative views on the matter have always been null and void. Today’s black women are also natural protectors who will go all-out, no matter the cost to keep their loved ones safe, much like the Dora Milaje’s selfless protection of Black Panther.
Which brings us to King T’Challa, who is also a brilliant scientist and inventor, and a descendent of a warrior-class of ancient fighters. He is very proficient in both armed and unarmed combat, and also highly-skilled with just about every weapon known to man.
And so its T’Challa, the Black Panther, the hero and protector of Wakanda, whom we black men see in ourselves. For like T’Challa, who does whatever it takes to protect his people, we have scraped and hustled in the bowels of society for generations to protect and provide for our families. With many of us paying the ultimate price, much like the generations of Black Panthers before the time of T’Challa.
T’Challa and his fictionalized kingdom are symbols of all that is good about black culture. Black Panther IS black culture, and Wakanda and its people are us…past, present, and future.
Visit Barker’s Books on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/barkersbooks/