Wakanda Forever! The Black Panther movie was A+mazing and I left the theater beyond inspired. Don’t worry. NO SPOILERS here, but I do plan to speak on topics generally. The film deposited several gems throughout each scene, allowing the audience to excavate each one and bury them within the subconscious. I would like to unearth those priceless gems within this post, dusting them off, shining them up, and bringing them to the forefront of your mind. Journey with me as I uncover the intoxicating beauty of Black Panther that is guaranteed to inspire and influence dreamers of this generation and generations to come.
Gem 1- Women Rule!
Yes, I know that Prince T’Challa, aka the Black Panther, is a man, but the empowerment of womanhood can be felt throughout the film. I just had to point out the head nod and the respect the film gave to women throughout the entire picture. The fact that the film embraced women in multiple roles as powerful leaders, more so than any other film that I can think of, speaks volumes to little girls everywhere who do not realize their power. There’s a certain degree of edginess that can only be embodied by women taking on leadership roles. She is able to instinctively transition a nurturing heart into a fierce capability to protect. How awesome is that?!
Gem 2- Loyalty, Loyalty, Loyalty
It is important that you have a great team around you when trying to build and maintain your empire. Black Panther characters showed us the importance of loyalty, trust, and support within your inner circle. They were the ultimate #squadgoals.
Gem 3- Slay While You Get Paid
The team behind the makeup and costume designs is to be commended. The vibrancy, the color, and the attention to detail—it was all astounding. The film did a great job of balancing the characters’ ability to possess both style and allure all while maintaining a seamless execution of combat and battle tactics. It just goes to show you that you can still look fashionable and fierce while performing your duties with the highest degree of excellence. You can walk in purpose and Prada. You don’t necessarily have to sacrifice the “slay” while you get paid. We can each walk boldly and beautifully into our individual callings. I know personally that it can be hard to put a look together when suffering from Sunday night blues. I found this film inspirational partly because on those days when I’m just not feeling it, this gem helped me to see that I owed it myself to provide the world with a good presentation of myself.
Gem 4- Young Innovation
Never underestimate the power and innovation of young minds. Oftentimes, the older generation tends to brush off the ideas that younger people have to offer. The Black Panther film confronts this notion head on. It is the Black Panther’s younger sister, Shuri, who is the lead innovator of many of the technological advancements in Wakanda. She was definitely a scientific force to be reckoned with. It was wonderful to watch a film that let a young person invent, and it did not allow her age to be a disqualifying factor from the ability to possess knowledge.
Gem 5- More Than Just a Pretty Face
The way that the film captured women as beings who weren’t one dimensional, but rather individuals who were both beautiful and brilliant, was phenomenal. It was empowering to see women characters not limited to their physical attributes, but rather embraced for their minds and their character. Whether leading warriors or creating innovations within a science lab, the film allowed women characters to challenge the notion that women could not be as capable or more capable than their male counterparts. If you’re in a field that is within a male-dominated industry, do not let that discourage you. You still have the potential to be the best. Keep studying. Keep working hard. Continue to build the skill within your craft. Your talent can blur the lines, eliminate barriers, and shatter glass ceilings.
Gem 6- A challenge is not over until it’s over.
When you’re going through the fire and all hope might seem lost, don’t give up. You never know when things may take a turn and you’ll come out swinging to finish on top.
Gem 7- The Bold and the Beautiful
The women characters of the film so tastefully exhibited a wonderful balance between power and strength along with femininity. These women were not just leaders, but they were also love interests. These women were able to carry out their duties with such passion and zeal, and still be able to capture and soften the hearts of the men in their lives. Too many times, both in film and the real world, women are bombarded with the idea that you can only achieve power and leadership by capturing the brashness of men. I beg to differ. (See Gem 1.) The characters in this film provide a stark contrast to that stereotype. These women were authoritative and compelling, but yet warm and benevolent. Capturing both ends of the spectrum without sacrificing one characteristic for the other takes enormous talent and I can respect that of ability of both the director as well as that of the actors. The reality is that the women throughout our lives have been amazingly able to show the balance, and this film capturing the essence of that—brilliant.
Gem 8- Give Back
Without giving too much away, I want to take a moment to emphasize the importance of giving back to the community. There may be people out there who look up to you, but aren’t blessed with your access. Always take your knowledge and resources and use it to build up the community for the greater good. Use your privilege to help build future leaders.
Gem 9- My Black is Beautiful
Given that it’s Black History month in the United States, I’d be remiss not to talk about all of the melanin magic that was in full effect on the big, silver screen. No, the color of someone’s skin does not determine the content of her character. However, that does not mean society is without discriminatory systems and prejudices. For example, colorism is “prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.” For years, Hollywood has failed at inclusion of various shades of blackness that reflects the true representation of the black community. The fact of the matter is that blackness in America includes people of African descent from the lightest of light to the darkest of dark tones. Nevertheless, Hollywood has continuously focused on displaying only one end of the spectrum. Consequently, the lack of representation of dark skinned individuals has contributed to the self-hate and the low self-esteem of many.
History has shown us the powerful effect that representation plays with the psyche of an individual, particularly that of a young person. In the 1940s, the famous Doll Test was conducted in order to show the effects of segregation on black children. Children were presented with a white doll and a brown doll and were asked a series of questions in order to determine which doll they thought was better. The test showed how children held biases towards lighter skin. And in 2010, when the doll test was recreated, the biases were still evident.
While not always done so overtly, society bombards us with images that promote stereotypes and promote superiority and inferiority amongst specifically targeted racial groups and specific skin tones. Given the history of colorism within the black community, it was breathtaking to see so many main characters possess darker hues. Children need to see individuals who look like them as they grow because representation carries with it a sense of pride and self-confidence. It impresses upon youth that the opportunities are endless. Black Panther helps black children, especially children with darker skin tones, to realize that not only can black be beautiful, but black can be smart and powerful too.