Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Focus Lens: Black Panther, the Movie

As I sat there with tears rolling down my face listening to Killmonger utter his famous last words “Bury me in the ocean where my ancestors jumped from ships because they knew death was better than bondage” my mind raced while my heart ached. I wasn’t crying because the character was such a great person, he was indeed the villain in this poignant film. I was crying because Michael B. Jordan’s character embodied the unfortunate plight of the African American male in America. He represents everything that the African American man has faced and still faces as an orphan in a distant land where he has never been accepted.

Killmonger’s name itself tells you the essence of the man. He is in the market or trade to kill, destroy life. Now that is saying something. A man who’s only lot in life is to kill is who the writers of the comic book chose to be the representative of the African American male. He returned to the fairy tale land Wakanda to challenge the king and utopian nationalistic lifestyle he revered. Wakanda was the homeland he once fanaticized about returning to and being welcomed with open arms. Instead he was mocked and had to fight to claim his rightful place among his people.

His challenge was based on the fact that his father was murdered by the now king’s father, his uncle. He had a birthright to the throne and he fought to the death to claim it. Once he claimed it he had an intention to utilize the wealth, knowledge and technological advancements of the country to “free” displaced poor people all over the world, especially those of African descent. The theory was admirable, the execution not so much.

If I could pinpoint who he is, Killmonger would be the “nigga” that returned to Africa to destroy her. Now don’t get me wrong, his intentions were great but severely flawed. His hatred and anger clouded an otherwise honorable notion to free the world of poverty and oppression. His character could be studied by the academics for years to come giving them some light into what is the problem with the African American man? First things first, the man his too tired of the oppressive atmosphere he is surrounded by daily here in America. He is fed up with trying to fight for equality in a place where they do not even believe he is man. He is also weary of well doing when he could fight like Killmonger did and kill off those who threaten to end his inheritance. Not all African American men fall into the same category as this character so please stop thinking they do. However, the ones who are often forgotten and shunned now have a voice in Michael B. Jordan’s character.

All in all, the movie is a wonderful expression of our love for Africa and true desire to have our roots unearthed. Black Panther has already made history and is the first African American directed film to earn $1 billion worldwide. That is the power of my people. Still though, Disney owns it but is currently developing STEM programs for youth in our communities which is sorely needed today. That’s a step in the right direction. It just goes to show the world our art is valuable and can impact lives everywhere.

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