By: Jiba Molei Anderson
This is an article celebrating the worldwide release of Black Panther on the silver screen…
Seriously. But first…
The construct of Whiteness is an exclusionary one. It’s really the promise of capitalism wrapped up in skin color. It is a tool designed by the rich to keep the poor separated. It was used as a fantasy to keep the white immigrants separate from the soon-to-be enslaved Blacks by giving the illusion that skin color made them better from others who were in the same economic situation.
It’s the ultimate marketing campaign and, the ultimate Ponzi scheme.
In order to become white, you must surrender your cultural identity because again, Whiteness is supposed to get you closer to economic freedom. The Europeans immigrants embraced this wholeheartedly. Being Italian or French or British or German, etc. Is a hell of a lot different than being white.
This is also evident with immigrants of color aspiring to this goal, to assimilate, to be respected, knowing this will never happen. They can sacrifice their culture, but the skin color will always be a deterrent to the perceived capitalist ideal.
Whiteness has no culture, it has no soul, and it has no positive aspect to its nature. The construct of Whiteness was built on violence and exclusion.
Whiteness breeds and promotes mediocrity. No matter what a white person achieves, it pales in comparison to achievements of the other. The obstacles that institutional Whiteness places in front of the other when overcome makes that achievement that more inspirational and salient. That is a reason why Whiteness appropriates other cultures to give an illusion of substance for Whiteness is a parasitic pathology.
That is exactly why when someone talks about White Power, they speak of exclusion and the denigration of the other in order to feel powerful.
White Power? White Supremacy? They are terms that illustrate the ultimate inferiority complex. Hence, the mass shootings, the police brutality, the Alt-Reich, the Trump regime…
These cats are soft A.F.
Now on the flip side, Black Power is a response to that. And, despite what some may try to say, Black Power is inclusive. It’s always been. It’s had to be. From slavery to Reconstruction to Jim Crow to the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter, Black Power understands that alliance is the key to salvation.
Black Power represents diversity, justice and inclusion. Black Power has allied itself with Latino communities, Asian communities, First Nation, LGBTQ and yes, even poor white communities to affect positive change for everyone, not just themselves. Black Power challenges everyone to be excellent, not just mediocre.
Therein lies the difference.
What’s happening with these brittle spirits is that their #PsychicCapital is diminishing day by day. These mediocre fools whose culture is the only thing that makes them worthy, the ones who voted for the homunculus of their mediocrity made flesh because of his promise to return them to glory, are reminded of how ultimately worthless they are without the comfort of privilege more each day.
We don’t genuflect at their altar anymore. They can’t handle our level of clapback when they try to get verbally brolic. Their chosen leader is an incompetent blowhard who no one respects in the global arena. They know we see them as pitiful human beings. They know we don’t fear them. They feel the thousand cuts as we openly mock them. Their #PsychicCapital has declared insufficient funds while, despite their efforts of physical and mental terrorism, our stock continues to rise.
I don’t even get angry at them anymore. I laugh at their insecurity and bathe in their tears. It’s better than Shea butter.
Which brings us to Black Panther.
Ok, full disclosure:
I wasn’t surprised by the costume and set design of Black Panther. I wasn’t astounded by its depictions of African societies, gender roles, spirituality nor the political conversations the film created or brought to the surface…
Because, with The Horsemen, I’ve been swimming in that same creative pool for over twenty years.
Instead, I felt a sense of validation. I felt a sense of relief. I felt a sense of pride. I felt completely Liberian and completely African American. For a brief moment, I felt the entire Diaspora connecting, becoming as one in celebration of our pure and unfettered selves. For 2 hours and 14 minutes, we were liberated. We were free.
Ryan Coogler achieved the impossible. He took a problematic character called the Man-Ape in comics and made him a breakout star in Black Panther. Okoye is the Storm people wish Storm could have been in the X-Men movies. Shuri is our amazing little sister who created perhaps the ultimate clapback against those of diminishing returns who attempt to deride our collective Black achievement and joy. Killmonger is the charismatic would-be revolutionary whose blind rage and limited vision make him a villain. We, the Diaspora, could see our true selves, dichotomies and contradictions intact, in these characters.
This just in: Black Panther’s estimated worldwide debut is $387 million dollars. It’s the biggest domestic opening weekend ever for a film released in February… Or March… Or April.
Congratulations to the cast and crew of this film. Y’all have officially made history.
Putting this into a certain context: Blade is the equivalent of Sweetback’s Badasss Song, Luke Cage is Shaft and Black Panther is the Superfly of Black superheroes in cinema…
As those three films defined the Blaxploitation genre, Blade, Cage and BP define the Black superhero, in particular, and the superhero movie genre, in general, to a certain extent.
After all, the modern superhero film all started with Blizzade…
Now, back up, and don’t rain on my parade. This next bit is my fantasy…
Somewhere, I imagine that Wesley Snipes is sitting in a chair in full Nino Brown mode. The chair swivels to reveal Mr. Snipes tenting his fingers. His mouth slowly forms a smile as he thinks to himself…
This is the power of Psychic Capital.
This is what happens when we are shown in our full glory. Black Panther has made a huge deposit into our collective accounts. Now, take this energy and use it to support those of us who grind every day whether it is in the arts, activism, politics, economics or whatever. Use this power to help make a better world.