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Show Them Who You Are: Black Panther and Afrofuturism

Afrofuturism: a movement in literature, music, art, etc., featuring futuristic themes which incorporate elements of black history and culture. A film like Black Panther opens up the mind to a new paradigm. Best Picture of the year is almost too modest. This picture says much more than words ever could. Picture this..

Shirley Chisholm/ The Undefeated

It’s 2019 and our elders Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. are still with us. It’s been almost 50 years since they successfully legislated reparations for descendants of enslaved African Americans. Shirley Chisholm was the first black president in 1972. Her Vice President? Fred Hampton. Her lead political strategist? Kwame Turé (Stokely Carmichael). Both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. endorse the ticket. The Black News Syndicate breaks the news story of the 1980’s, “CIA busted for smuggling 1 Trillion Kilo’s Into American Cities”. Michael Jackson and Prince agree to purchase Sam Cooke’s record and publishing company for $250 Billion Dollars. A significant portion of profits are invested into black communities. Especially schools and healthcare facilities. Freedom schools (K-12) are established by the Black Education Union in every community. A new style of curriculum is adopted, revolutionizing the American education system. Education at no cost from well funded HBCUs are standard for black children. They go on to be professionals and artisans in their community. A future you can believe in? The previous illustrations are a stretch, but doesn’t it make you wonder? Why are so many legacies of our greats cut short? What were they on the verge of creating? How has this impacted history, herstory, our story? Black Panther is an Afro-futuristic movie about a fictional superhero. The themes in the movie, on the other hand, are very real. While Afrofuturism stretches out into the blackness ahead, it’s as much about the past as it is the future. Black Panther in all of its Afrofuturistic glory presents themes that are timeless.

Who Are You?

Tosinger T / Pinterst

Foremost, It was refreshing to see honor given to the ancestors. The presence of our ancestors is something that we African people must increasingly acknowledge and celebrate. The recurring theme I found in the movie was ‘remember who you are’. The ultimate moment was when the Queen Mother of Wakanda tells T’Challa “Show Him Who You Are”, I got chills. In midst of his struggles, T’Challa needed a Black Queen to remind him who he was. Yes Queen, “show them who you are”, but who are you? As his father would later tell him, “Stand up, you are a King”. T’Challa’s struggle with M’Baku was physical. However, for us the battle may be mental, emotional, or spiritual. To ensure victory on “Challenge Day” we must remember to stand up. We are Kings and Queens. And the award goes to.. I don’t know if Black Panther will win an Oscar for Best Picture. If it does, I wouldn’t be surprised if Marvel and Disney receive the credit and accolades for its success. One thing I do know is this picture of the year candidate is only a snapshot of the Afro Future. Kings and Queens, “Show them who your are”.

Photo Credits: Tosinger T / Pinterst & The Undefeated Written by Shomari Huggins

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