Lately, there has been a conversation about whether white people should dress as Black Panther. This is my take on it:
Since we are having this discussion, what white person can tell me Black Panther’s real name? His father? Killmonger? Black Panther’s mothers name? His wife? The tribes that were there? Who is U’mbaku? The name of his tribe? If you can’t answer these questions without Google, yea, you definitely appropriating the culture under the guise “It’s just a movie”. To y’all maybe it is…
To my son, it was the first time he saw black people not as thugs, drug dealers, gang members, or sex workers. He saw people that looked like him that did amazing things. He didn’t see the hood. He saw a nation. He saw a hero. He saw that we aren’t just what the media wants us to be.
After I took the kids to see it, you could see the pride they had radiating from them!
My niece saw strong black women. Not playing support, but as a force all their own!
To trivialize it as just a movie shows a certain privilege in seeing ordinary people like you play heroes in movies. That’s not the same for black people or black children.
To trivialize it as a movie is to take away one of the precious few things black children now have: heroes that look like them.
This would be comparable to a situation of men not truly understanding something made for white women, but just took and co-opted it then told white women “it’s just a whatever, so it doesn’t matter.” That is what white people who don’t understand the meaning of Black Panther would be doing with Black Panther…
Go up to that black child and tell them something that gave them hope, something that gave them pride, something that gave the notion that they are more than what media tells them they are is “just a movie…It’s not that big of a deal.” If you feel that way, then you don’t understand the importance of Black Panther and you should not be dressing up as it.
To you it’s a costume. To us it’s hope. It’s pride. It’s something that allows us to step out of the shadow of white supremacy and let’s us be.
1 thought on “Black Panther & The Effect of Cultural Appropriation on Youth of Color”
I really loved Black Panther. I must have watched it three or four times. The representation of dignified, beautiful, intelligent, no-nonsense black women did it for me. Each black actor brought a special aspect to remind us of what’s possible: we are not victims, we are not inferior, we are not daft and we have the capacity not to rewrite our History and our narrative but to write it ourselves. Placing a lone ‘coloniser’ in the midst of it all was bril! He was surrounded as we are all the time but I believe the writers were kind in that they didn’t seek social and cultural vengeance by portraying him the way minorities usually are.
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