“I have seen gods fly. I have seen men build weapons that I couldn’t even imagine. I have seen aliens drop from the sky. But I have never seen anything like this.” -Everett K. Ross (to T’Challa)
There are so many reasons the movie Black Panther is already topping box office charts and leaving an enormous cultural footprint after its 4-day opening weekend as the most high profile black superhero movie to date! I’ve been in awe ever since watching the movie and it has generated quite a buzz around the world as well. Not only is Black Panther significant for black culture, but it also breaks down barriers for black women. From seeing Academy-Award winning Lupita Nyong’o rock bantu knots to breakout roles from up and coming actors like Letitia Wright, it is more than a movie… it’s a movement! I would like to share with you the ways in which the film empowered and inspired me not only as a black person, but as a black woman!
Although Black Panther was named for a male superhero, the powerful image of the black woman is the true marvel of the movie. Although they do not have traditional superpowers, they don’t need them because they are powerful in and of themselves. The strength, power, and influence of the women of Wakanda are most notable. In the movie, T’Challa has all-female royal guards. Not only are they all-female, but they’re all black females. And they were BAD, might I add. Those women went to work during combat, all the while maintaining a fierceness that couldn’t be tamed. They were extremely loyal, almost to a fault, but nevertheless it was clear that the success was largely tied to their position as the backbone and cornerstone of the society of Wakanda and of course black culture itself. Being a black woman IS a superpower.
My Black is Beautiful
The film combats colorism as every single woman in this movie is absolutely gorgeous and they are all dark-skinned! For so long, dark-skinned women have been belittled and because society didn’t deem them as “pretty enough” or “as pretty” as their light-skinned counterparts. I am sure you have heard someone say the phrase, “She’s pretty for a dark-skinned girl” or “you’re acting light-skinned.” It’s no secret that historically, dark skin has not been considered beautiful and women with lighter skin have carried a sort of unspoken privilege. However, Black Panther does not disappoint in making sure that every woman is highly “melaninated” and drop-dead gorgeous! It is so refreshing to see beautiful women who look like me in a box-office hit. This beautiful representation of black women is major for our culture as well as our representation in mainstream media.
I Am Not My Hair
Can we just take a second to recognize the fact that all of the women have natural hairstyles in the movie? From braids to bantu knots, head wraps to shaved heads to dreads, I am 100% sure no flat irons or chemicals were needed on this set! This may be minor to you, but I can surely recall a time when this was not acceptable or common at all. It is truly an amazing feeling to see women embrace their natural roots, while not having to succumb to society’s pressure to conform or fit in with traditional standards of beauty. It didn’t matter how these women wore their hair, they were fierce, beautiful, and elegant with or without it! As black women, we all know that we put a lot of emphasis on our appearance, especially our hair. Seeing these women embrace themselves gave me permission to be myself unapologetically no matter what hairstyle I choose to wear (and I’m notorious for experimenting with a plethora of protective styles lol). Uniqueness was not only acceptable, but it was also celebrated as the standard.
I’m Black and I’m Proud
The representation of black women in Black Panther left me feeling inspired and proud to be who I am—a black woman. It reaffirmed my strength, gave me courage, and reminded me that I don’t have to demand respect but I command respect simply by existing as I am. Simply put, this movie reenergized me and reminds me that I can do and be anything that I want to be. That as a black woman I am beautiful, fierce, worthy, strong, and gracious all at the same time. It’s important that we continue to celebrate ourselves for who we are and to remember to never settle for less than we deserve in any area of our lives. I am so happy that such a groundbreaking film did an excellent job not only for the culture, but for black women worldwide!
Comment below some of the takeaways that impacted you the most! Does this film meet your expectations of how we should be portrayed in mainstream media? If you have not seen the movie yet, go see it! Please share this post on Facebook or Twitter using the share buttons below. Let’s get the word out and let’s support something that is not only FOR US, but also BY US!