The Black Panther: True Regal Cinema
One of my prized possessions rests in Birmingham, Alabama. It is a 12 inch comic book rendition action figure of the Black Panther. I purchased it nearly twenty years ago when there was still a toy Mecca called KB Toys.
It was the perfect compliment to my collection of limited reprints of Black Panther comics, especially the issue when he battled and defeated the racist super villain team called the Supremacists. Those comic books and that action figure remain in my possession to remind me of the time when I fully embraced a superhero that looked like me.
Fast forward to 2018 to a world that does not seem to distant from Civil Rights Era America and Apartheid Era South Africa. Stereotypes, profiling, prejudice, and racism still influence so much of our daily lives. The Black Panther movie, in my creative eye, allows the world to ask, “What if?”
How would the world be different if colonial powers did not rob Africa of its human and natural resources? What would the global political landscape be like if colonization did not divide and conquer the tribal or national infrastructure of the Mother Continent. Sure, there still would have been conflicts, but the conflicts would have taken a different tone.
The Black Panther cinematic experience is not just your next stop in the Marvel Universe or the latest fad in superhero films, it is a showcase of Blackness at its best.
The film illustrates African royalty, which is not fiction.
It showcases the power of the black family and the black community. The film portrays strong and intelligent black men and captures the strength, beauty, and intelligence of the black woman. It is set in a wealthy kingdom, not a mythological jungle, savannah, nor impoverished country. It shows technological advancement that is empowering and military might that is defensive and not oppressive. It is a powerful rebuttal to the idea that African nations are less than (I would rather not repeat a certain offensive quote).
I am glad to see my favorite comic books and action figure come to life. More importantly, I am happy to see black life as the royal life that it is.
(Rev. Steven Evans is a pastor in Clinton.)