Why You Should See Black Panther Even if You’re not Black or into Marvel Comics
I am sure you have seen or heard all the hype surrounding the movie Black Panther, and I’m sure a lot of it is coming from your the black people you know. So, is Black Panther a movie just for black people? Well…no. Let’s just consider the enormous amount of movies where the cast is all white or only feature one black person. I can’t count them all, but...I watched them. I watched these movies sometimes being aware of the all white cast and other times not even noticing it.I have gone to see a movie in a theatre and me and whoever I went there with were the only black people in the theatre. So, I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this but let me just add on a few more.
In the United States we have a strong history of using a “trickle down” approach to the economy, healthcare, and even basic decency. We give larger tax breaks to those that are already wealthy, we provide better healthcare to those that have more money, and we are even nicer to individuals that have a higher economic status. Think about how nice you were to the last homeless person you saw on the street. Before I go any further, if you are a non black person, have you seen any of the following films?
The Color Purple
Coming to America
Lean on Me
Set it Off
Remember the Titans
The Pursuit of Happiness
Love and Basketball
The Best Man
Waiting to Exhale
… ok I’ll stop there.
These films are predominantly black. I will not say all black people have seen all of these movies, but most have. If you have seen less than half of these movies and you are over the age of 25 years old, ask yourself why. Is it because you never heard of them? Is it because you it just wasn’t your type of film? Was it because you didn’t think you could relate because there were little to no white people in the movie? Perhaps you were afraid of being the only white or non-black person in the theatre.
I am here to suggest to you that black people watch white films. Even though many of them only have one token black person, we still watch. We spend our money, we wait in line, we sit in the theatre, we even bought the DVDs before they become obsolete. When you hear the astronomical amounts of money films like Avatar make, I know most people never think of the demographic breakdown of who contributed their money, but many of these dollars came from black people. Consider the idea that black people play a major role in the success of films from action to romantic comedy which in turn allows for the creation of more films. Now ponder the idea that black people are still a minority in this country and if we are the only people supporting films with predominantly black casts, how can black actors, directors, and producers ever hold the same accolades as those of white people? At the end of the day, success in film is measured by how much money you bring in. I find it funny that it should be assumed that I have seen the original Star Wars trilogy because I am alive. Yet, most non-black people have never seen The Color Purple, which is probably THE MOST quoted black film ever written (Directed by Steven Spielberg). So where is the problem?
Some would argue black films don’t transcend race like “other” films do. Well, why not? Love and Basketball is a love story about two basketball players who grew up together, went to college, and happen to be black. It’s just a love story. I think, because the story does not feature a white person in a leading role, it becomes irrelevant to people that are not black. I am not going to beat you over the head with examples of double standards, or the lack of interest in black films. I will just argue that black people watch predominantly white television shows, movies… we listen to white podcasts, and we read books by white authors. This allows us to know, relate to, and understand a LOT about your culture. Not to mention many of us work in predominantly white environments. Nevertheless, we can’t say the same for you because you don’t have to. You can turn on your television and never watch a show with an all black cast if you don’t want to. How can people of different races get along if they don’t know each other? Do you trust people you don’t know or don’t at least know something about? You probably don’t.
If you want to know and understand black people and all of our intricacies, and you don’t know any actual black people to become friends with, study us! Watch our shows, support our films, read black authors, listen to our podcasts, purchase our materials. You will be overwhelmingly surprised at the similarities, and you will learn to appreciate instead of ignore our differences.
This post has nothing to do with Black Panther having a great plot, and everything to do with the idea that the success of this film means success for America. Until black people are treated fairly and have the same amount of representation and support as everybody else, the country is not truly successful. We have to approach things from an “effervescent” mindset as opposed to trickle down. When the least of us are winning, only then can we say “we” won. Go watch the film. Admire the talent of the black director, cast, costume designer… admire the vast differences in the people that sit in the seats next to you. Think about what it would be like if in 2018 your white child was FINALLY able to be a white superhero that wasn’t made up by you the parent! That’s what it will be like for young black boys and girls. They will finally be able to see themselves as “Super” without feeling the need to change their hair texture or skin color.
Side note: I understand there are Asian and Latino Americans who have yet to have the amount of representation Black Americans have, but our ancestors have been here over 400 years…yes...we still have a long way to go.