This is a movie review but not really. This is my reaction to Black Panther, the Marvel Comic movie that was just released in theaters. I'm sure you have read all the reviews by prominent journalists and you've watched all the trailers and all the interviews of the cast, the production crew, and the creative staff. But this right here is MY reaction to the movie as a Pacific Island woman.
I think the movie is fantastic whether or not the cast and crew was all-Black or not. I know this has been a source of pride for the African-American community. And they should feel proud and see the possibility in it. There are no limits but the ones that we place on ourselves. The true treasure and the beauty of good story-telling is that the story applies to all people, across all cultures, and socio-economic statuses. The entertainment value can be had across the board. I am not a huge Marvel Comic fan. I don't know all the stories of all the super heroes. I couldn't tell you that Black Panther marries Storm or any of that without someone else telling me. And I don't usually enjoy super-hero-comic-book movies. My ex can testify to the fact that I actually fall asleep in movies like this. However, what piqued my interest in this movie is the fact that the superhero character was not-White.
When I was a little girl, there wasn't anyone that looked like me on T.V. (There still aren't many that look like me but at least there's the Rock, Dwayne Johnson representing the Samoan community. My mother is Samoan and my father is Hawaiian.) I remember being so excited about seeing Tisha Campbell on Rags to Riches. Around the same time, The Cosby Show came on the scene, A Different World, and a slew of other shows that featured not-White people. I say this only to make the point that I was looking for representation in the media. I was looking for something that I could identify with, people that looked more like me, whose experience was similar to mine.
The victory of this movie is that it embeds in the rising generation of not-White people, especially African-Americans, a sense of pride and identity. I remember my ex-husband doing a DNA test from ancestryDOTcom. He being a Black man from Alabama, the difficulty of tracing his roots back to Africa through a paper trail was next to impossible. The DNA test was the best bet to figure out where, exactly, in Africa he is most likely from. The results came back with Cameroon and Benin. The elation he felt just knowing that he had a history outside of American culture was very exciting and I felt joy for his discovery. For me, I had many cultural practices handed down to me by both my mother and father. Rich traditions that I will carry with me until the day I die.