by Sabirah Muhammad
The controversy surrounding the Black Panther movie has been intense, sustained, fanatic. That fact alone has amplified perhaps the most salient issue of all: that everything we experience in this life of success, failure or mediocrity is in direct proportion to the way we view ourselves. It’s worth examining and understanding what this moment has called from us, as we take to our corners to defend either supporting the movie or rejecting it, based on what seems to have gelled into two nuanced positions.
One consensus is that we should be glad that after so long of only seeing ourselves portrayed as criminals, whores, wife beaters, child molesters and the like, we can finally take ourselves and our children to see a movie on the big screen that we can be proud of. We’ve supported other superhero franchises, X-Men and the movie industry overall, so why not this movie?
The other position is that we should be ashamed of waiting for Hollywood to validate us as a family, and to instill pride in our children, something we surely should be doing ourselves. Moreover, if we can make White controlled Hollywood rich, why can’t we set our minds to support our own projects and build a Black economy? If we can embrace the Black Panther, why couldn’t we embrace the recently portrayed real life hero, Nat Turner?
The conscious community was at a disadvantage before the release of the Black Panther. It was hard to pinpoint clear objections specific to the film without having seen it, and therefore, their criticisms were dismissed as lacking credibility. Still, they fought on with general objections, because something was setting their “Spidey sense” a-tingling. Something just didn’t sit right. In fact, the sudden appearance of a big screen, big budget film with an all- Black cast in positive portrayals was in fact the problem! There’s something amiss when the same Hollywood that has tightly controlled and denigrated our image since its inception suddenly offers us a world where dark-skinned Black people wearing their own natural hair are seen demonstrating courage, beauty, nobility and uncommon valor. Where Black women are united with one another in sisterhood and in loyalty to our men, who in turn respect, protect, and cherish those women. What’s “wrong” with this picture?
Since the release of the movie, one thing is abundantly clear. They were right. It’s not enough to just relax and enjoy the positives, shunning any negatives… like the pitting of Black Africans against Blacks born in America. Black traitors to the Panther and the Kingdom of Wakanda in Africa are juxtaposed against those who are noble at best, short-sighted at worst. But Killmonger, the ruthless, ultimately incorrigible villain is made in America, as are the young boys in the projects, playing basketball when a Wakandan plane lands on the court. Their first reaction to seeing it is to ponder how many pieces they can break it up into to sell it. Next, there’s the ever-present, beneficent White man, always on hand to remind us that “they’re not all bad,” and the utterly preposterous collaboration between the Wakandan defenders and this agent of the CIA.
But these are examples of Hollywood’s usual assault and battery on the Black image, obviously irresistible despite the plot in this instance to use positive imagery as squalene. That’s the oil-based molecule that’s artificially added to vaccines, to render the body more susceptible to the full force of the virus being injected. Squalene is native to the body, so it enables the poisons in the shot to bypass the natural defense systems and invade the body more easily. Self-pride and self-love are native to (inherent in) human beings. After generations of creating a hunger in Black people for a positive image of self, those behind this film gave free reign to Black writers, designers and researchers to produce what they knew would evoke powerful emotions of pride and validation, rendering us completely vulnerable to the poison in the Panther. After consistently refusing to produce and promote positive Black films based on the lie that they wouldn’t sell well overseas, Disney funded this $200 million project, and gave it nine months of pre-release advertising. There was never any doubt about it being a smash hit, because they knew the depth of the longing that they themselves hadcreated and stoked over their entire history of movie-making.
The Black Panther is death in disguise. It’s our open enemy’s response to strong signs of life in the collective Black body. We’re waking up. Every year since the murder of Trayvon Martin, the media has kept quiet about our sustained holiday boycotts, claiming record sales. But come January, we hear reports of chain stores closing hundreds of outlets. We’re responding well to the campaign to put our money in Black banks and to support our own businesses. Since the election of Donald Trump, over a dozen Black-owned travel groups have seen a spike in bookings, with folks consciously leaving the country for Black-only retreats, in search of time with just ourselves. This is the dawning of what The Honorable Elijah Muhammad told us decades ago, that separation is the best and only solution to the problem between the races. Recently, financial expert Dr. Boyce Watkins has devised an independent Black school system overnight, by simply connecting the many independent schools already operating all over the country. This is an organized vehicle for taking back the minds of our children. And in South Africa, a young Black woman from the organization “Black First/ Land First” emphatically speaks dreaded, but inevitable words to a young, blonde documentary film maker: “Black people have been patient long enough. …We are coming for you. We are going to get everything you own. It’s ours. The question of war in this country is inevitable. We are going to fight.”
This is the collective mind, and the collective movement that Hollywood is responding to, and attempting to inoculate against. This… is the poison in the Panther. More next time.