Skip to main content

Black Panther and Identity

Images on big screens in movie theatres and small home screens, should not determine how kids are brought up and how they value or de-value themselves, but they do.

Kids that grow up seeing images that look like their parents, brothers and sisters, uncles who are mayors, senators and supreme court judges put a high premium on themselves. 
They identify with movies about two kids, boy and girl, in a happy home with two cars in the driveway in a leafy suburb in Connecticut or North York in Toronto.  If they see someone who looks like them robbing a bank, they call him one of the bad guys. 

They recognise that life is about opposites.  There are good and bad guys period.  Unfortunately, black and brown kids routinely see themselves in movies and novels as the bad guys, as if God gave them black eyes, skin and stay-in-one-place hair to be criminals, baby mamas, security guards, drug addicts, drug pushers and welfare recipients.
That is the movies.  High profile individuals like former U.S. First Lady Michele Obama, always remind the world that they are not the first.  There are millions of successful families that are happy in their black skin and work extra hard to teach kids that they are made in God’s image and that they should tick human being in the identity box.  That is the problem with religion.  It doesn’t celebrate nature, which is an endless garden of flowers, that includes black velvet petunias, roses, lilies, or dahlias.

The Black Panther movie box office success can be attributed to many things.  Identity is one of them.  People continue to buy tickets, not because of Lupita Nyong’o, a woman who was brought up to be a perfect circle, but because cinema-goers see themselves on the screen.

They supported sitcoms like The Cosby Show, The Fresh Prince of Belair, Living Single, Everybody Hates Chris, Ava DuVernay’s movies, Tyler Perry’s, Lee Daniel’s, Ice Cube’s, Spike Lee’s ground-breaking projects, and other movies that came before Black Panther. 
I’ve never had a problem with identity because we were loved, not only by parents, but by aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, teachers, bus drivers, nurses, store owners, everybody in the community.  We were naughty like all kids but there was a price to pay.  Elders disciplined or reported us because everybody knew where we belonged.

I took that for granted until I went back to Africa after many years.  A little girl remarked in Zulu, “Ufana no Gugu.”

“She looks like Gugu.”

Gugu is my niece and her name means the precious one.  She knew about me although I was not there because she grew up being told about the chain.  I look like my brother, who looks like my father, who looks like grandfather. The list goes on. 
The Black Panther U.S. box office is important because the producer, Disney/Marvel is American, but they also monitor the overseas box office.  Impressive ticket sales include South Korea, where some scenes were shot.

https://www.allkpop.com/article/2018/02/eric-nam-meets-with-the-cast-of-marvel-movie-black-panther-at-the-asia-premiere-in-seoul

Directed by Ryan Coogler, the movie is raking in some serious change because black and brown people in Africa, Brazil, Canada, Caribbean, Asia, Ireland, Germany, Italy, everywhere are mesmerized.

‘He looks like me.’

By:  Nonqaba waka Msimang.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Black Panther Africa Here and There

Black Panther is about Wakanda a fictionalized country in Africa, but it has delightful snippets of the real Africa.

The movie has tall people, like Kenya’s and Sudan’s sons and daughters. Dora Milaje, the royal guard supervised by Okoye (Danai Gurira) is composed of tall women.Okoye is a common surname or family name in Nigeria, as in Oge Okoye, the actress. There are also scenes where men on horseback are wearing colourful blankets, a common sight in Lesotho, the country surrounded by South Africa.Locals, the Basotho, call these blankets seana marena.The country’s beauty sinks in as one drives from Maseru the capital, up to Leribe and further up the mountains.Great roads too.

Costume design.That’s another snippet about Africa. There is Angela Bassett’s character looking regal, in what is called isicholo in Zulu.Well! it looks like isicholo, a married woman’s headdress. You probably saw the re-mixed version of isicholo in what Beyonce is wearing in the Sorry video. They also speak isiXh…

Black Panther Casting

Chadwick Boseman sure looks like a younger John Kani in Black Panther.That is why the movie won the Best Casting category in my little awards.  Envelope please!

Kani plays King T’Chaka.Boseman is T’Challa, his son.What a striking resemblance.It reminds me of my arrival in New York City some years ago.I used to stare at African Americans because they looked like a cousin, uncle, neighbour, teacher, friend, doctor or someone on the bus. Sure, we learnt about slavery at school, how slave traders stole Africans and how internal wars between chiefs also led to humans being taken to another continent in chains. But being in America, seeing people who look like your world, in Africa, was painful.

“Death is better than bondage.” That is what one character said in Black Panther.Was it Erik Killmonger?I’m not sure but I will double check when I go back.Yes, again.The movie is a cinematic buffet.Don’t talk with your mouth full, as mama would say. We gave the film the Best Casting category for other…

2018 Lions and Bed Bugs

The new year 2018 is waiting in the wings, watching with glee another round of happy new year wishes which will never come to fruition because human beings do not have the stoicism, intellect, tenacity, and sting of lions and bed bugs.

They believe in instant gratification, the now-now.That is why they have Nespresso coffee makers, T.V. dinners, plastic knives, forks and glasses, pre-approved credit, disposable Christmas trees and online love.Lions and bed bugs are more realistic.They are patient. They still believe that good things come to those who wait.
It might seem ridiculous to equate the two but they have the same survival strategy.Master planners.They observe the prey: its mating, family, favourite food, watering hole and its residential address.  Careless tourists with cameras are a plus. Prey surveillance is much easier for bed bugs because what’s wrong with not making my bed for a month, let alone regularly washing bedsheets and comforters and hanging them in the sun?Coin laun…