Black people everywhere were more than excited when we heard there would be a superhero movie rich with African traditions and culture. The movie premiere weekend is the fifth highest grossing of all time, has managed to stay at the top of the box office for 5 weekends in a row, and has grossed over one-billion dollars worldwide. It’s safe to say that director Ryan Coogler did not disappoint.
Black Panther isn’t just entertainment, it’s a statement. We can clearly see many issues in the black community play out in this movie, the main one being lack of unity.
Black people are a part of the African Diaspora, meaning black people can be found all over the world, from Brazil to France, and we are all descendants of Africans and we come in all different skin tones and nationalities. We see a lack of black unity in this film that isn’t too far-fetched from what we see in real life.
In the Marvel Comics Universe (MCU), Wakanda is the most advanced nation in the world because of its bountiful supply of the alien metal Vibranium that powers their cities, weaponry, and technology. Wakanda’s technology is so far-advanced that its people live in peace and luxury while remaining hidden from the world.
Michael B. Jordan’s character, Erik Killmonger, who was born and raised in America but is from a royal Wakandan bloodline, attempts to dethrone King T’Challa and send Wakanda’s weapons to minorities who are being oppressed in different nations so that they can overtake their colonizers.
“It’s about 2 billion people all over the world that look like us, but their lives are a lot harder. Wakanda has the tools to liberate them all,” said Killmonger.
T’Challa responds, “It is not our way to be judge, jury, and executioner for people who are not our own.”
Later in the movie, Daniel Kaluuya’s character, W’Kabi, advises T’Challa not to open Wakanda’s border to the needy because, “You let the refugees in, they bring their problems with them, and then Wakanda is just like everywhere else.”
These exchanges show how many black nations view black people from other countries. Plenty of Jamaicans did not take kindly to accepting Haitian refugees after the 2010 earthquake, and neither did Dominicans.
Why must black people divide ourselves into nationalities and ethnicities, instead of embracing one another as all being part of the same team?
“Everybody’s trying to fend for themselves instead of trying to work together,” said second-year pre-pharmacy student at Florida A&M University (FAMU) Junelle Saint-Sauveur.
In the end, despite T’Challa’s fear of the Wakandans opening their borders and losing their way of life, Wakanda joins the United Nations and T’Challa uses some of his wealth to buy out condemned buildings in Oakland, California and turn them into Wakandan International Outreach Centers.
Kimber Jennings, a third-year business administration student at FAMU, said, “I think all nations can learn an important lesson from the fictional country of Wakanda- lift as you climb.”
T’Challa completely flips the script on centuries of tradition by deciding to stop turning a blind eye to those in need.
“We will work to be an example of how the brothers and sisters of this Earth should treat each other. We must find a way to look after one another as if we are members of the same tribe,” said the King of Wakanda during his speech to the United Nations.
If more black people did this for one another, maybe an all-powerful technologically advanced black nation wouldn’t only be found in a Marvel comic book.