“Not today colonizer!” is a line shouted out by Shuri, the baby sister of King T’Challa from the mythical African Kingdom of Wakanda. These characters come to life in the blockbuster movie BLACK PANTHER. The fictional Kingdom of Wakanda created for all of us a re-Imagining of African descended people through the process of transporting ourselves back to a time and place before African people encountered whites. We suspended our disbelief and willingly imagined ourselves as fully grounded in our own cultural continuum, our original selves, living in the power and presence of self-determination and unsullied by the white colonizers and the myth of white superiority they carried with them.
“Wakanda Forever!” resonated with Black folks everywhere when “Black Panther”, directed by Ryan Coogler, opened in 2018 breaking the box office. It was an instant smash hit! A Black superhero was not only incredible and amazing to see on the big screen, it was also inspirational, aspirational and a type of healing balm for the Black community. Our children saw themselves differently through the journey of King T’Challa and his search to understand his history and what he was supposed to do with that history. We all began to ask, “What if?” we had never been colonized and enslaved? What if we had remained on the continent of our birth, our legacy, our inheritance, and never knew the trauma of the trans-Atlantic slave trade or the violent colonization and the plundering, looting and embezzling of our resources, lands and people? What if?
Ever since Black People encountered white people on the continent of Africa, our existence and relationship has been fraught with struggle and violence. Our Indigenous brothers and sisters in the Americas can also bear witness to this problematic history. History attests to the legacy of stolen lands and broken promises in the founding of the United States. Further, the dehumanization of Chattel Slavery as one of the main industries that built the economic wealth, liberty and freedom that this nation enjoys in modern and contemporary history has to this day never been redressed or even acknowledged with any type of national recognition. This acknowledgement is long overdue, and we are standing where we are today as a nation in crisis because we’ve been ignoring our great national debt for far too long. The time has come for reparations. Today America’s past transgressions can no longer be swept under the rug, ignored or denied because the evil of the past is presently standing boldly in the light of day and reasserting itself. Black people have been struggling to be free in America since we first arrived on these shores.
In contemporary American history we have been compelled to connect the strategic practice of protest employed by our forebearers in the Civil Rights Movement after the murder of Emmett Till in 1955 to the Black Lives Matter Movement of 2020. Because it has become an absolute imperative to turn the world’s focus, once again, to the hypocrisy of American Law, American Freedom, American Justice , and the duplicity of what people believe American equality stands for as compared to what Black people actually experience it as being. We are at a crossroads just like our mythical King T’Challa. The King had to decide what kind of King he was going to be and what kind of Kingdom Wakanda, with all of its abundance, ingenuity and power, was going to be for its people, for the world, and for the future. “To whom much is given, much is required!” And yet, America has never lived up to her responsibility or potential where her Black citizens are concerned. So, the “American Dream” has become more mythical than factual and the inequities in healthcare, employment, justice, education, and equality have become more and more defined by systemic and institutional racism than ever before.
“America,” the so-called land of the free and home of the brave, has become almost as fictional as Wakanda. This is particularly true for black and brown people living in America. The soul of America needs urgent care. What kind of nation are we to become? Doc Rivers, NBA coach of the LA Clippers recently said, “It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back?
“Rest in POWER King T’Challa!” Chadwick Boseman your Legacy is Forever.