“Until the lion learns to write, all the stories will glorify the hunter.”
On opening night for Black Panther, the movie based on the Marvel comic book character and the mythical African nation of Wakanda, I was front and center with a close friend. The movie had such a profound effect on me and those around me that I found myself wondering why? Over the next several days, as I processed my feelings about Black Panther, I wrote a post on my Facebook author blog entitled “Black Panther Energized My Weary Soul.” The movie provided me a kind of balance; my spirit needed that!
To understand the comment, you have to realize that there is very little balance in the way Black folks are perceived or portrayed in the media. Lately the paramount accusation hurled against us is that we are “frightening,” so much so that armed policemen choke and shoot us, (even when we are unarmed), because they “fear for their lives.” The negative list of adjectives ascribed to us, such as problematic, oversensitive, depraved, mentally deficient, undisciplined, and crass goes on and on. We earn whatever positive identifiers we get by being better, stronger, faster, harder-working and smarter than our non-black counterparts. If we are to survive, this is a necessity for us.
For instance, Barack Obama, our nation’s first Black President began leading this country from the brink of financial collapse before taking the presidential oath of office. He is arguably one of the most brilliant men in America and yet, while celebrated abroad, he was subjected to an unprecedented level of disrespect within his own country. Sadly, his administration was to be followed by the backlash of bitter white partisans that defied logic and reason by electing a presiding leader that is undeniably unfit to be the leader of the ‘free world,’ and whose only qualifications are that he is Republican and White.
As people of African descent tread through the societal quicksand threatening to suck us under we are urged to stay strong, “keep on keeping on,” and to “hold those heads up high!”
My sentiments about Black Panther originate from the depths of my soul, a place most of us don’t willingly allow folk admission. The truth is, no matter what our socioeconomic status is in this country, we all suffer from the intractable racism.
After living close to seven decades, I’ve just gotta say in the vernacular that this racism shit just keeps coming at us; and yet as Maya Angelou, our literary high priestess wrote, Still We Rise!
Comedian Chris Rock in his recent Tamborine special in response to the notion that Black men are an endangered species quipped, “Black men are not an endangered species because the government protects endangered species.”
So, for me when a movie comes along that depicts Black men and women as powerful beyond measure, technologically advanced, honorable to our enemies, and believing in redemption; a movie that shows the continent of Africa as beautiful, progressive and full of genius, I unapologetically grab hold of it!
Black Panther allows our children to visualize a world that retrieves us from the dust of condemnation by depicting a Black man as a super hero, and Black people as heroic. What a marvelous way to displace the imagery of slavery and disrespect that is constantly heaped upon us! I’ve read commentary in social media suggesting that Blacks are going overboard with our response to Black Panther and to those people I say NONSENSE! Black people in America can’t overdo anything positive. We are simply seizing this moment to celebrate a movie so full of positive messaging and imagination it brings balance and strength to our souls. It feels like * “Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie.”
I arose after the two hours and fifteen minutes refreshed from a cool drink. #WakundaForever
Note: In 1979 A desire to live beyond the boundaries of the country that held Black people in chattel slavery, our family immigrated to Liberia, West Africa. To experience our 11 years outside of America, read, “Sweet Liberia, Lessons from the Coal Pot,” The book is set against my personal growth, cultural struggles, triumphs and our escape during the Liberian Civil War. Purchase the book on Amazon.com at https://goo.gl/daTdx1 or at www.susandpeters.com
*Angelo, Maya, “Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie.” Random House, Published 1971.
– Susan D. Peters
Susan D. Peters, aka, Ahnydah (ah-NIE-dah) Rahm, brings a wealth of experience gained as an expatriate living in West Africa. Her memoir Sweet Liberia, Lessons from the Coal Pot, received the Black Excellence Award for Non-Fiction from the African American Alliance of Chicago and the Mate E. Palmer award for Non-Fiction from the Illinois Press Women’s Association. Broken Dolls, Susan’s second book, represents her foray into the mystery market and is the first of a series featuring Detective Joi Sommers as its heroine. Her most recent publication is Stolen Rainbow, a short story focused on the post combat recovery of a beautiful marine captain after a devastating combat injury. Her work is featured in three anthologies, Baring It All, the Ins and Outs of Publishing, Signed, Sealed, Delivered … I’m Yours, a contemporary romance anthology, and The Anthology of the Illinois Woman’s Press Association. Buy her books online and at www.SusanDPeters.com.