Really worth the time to read
This week will be the premier of the movie Black Panther and there is a whole lot of hype and excitement leading up to it... There are watch parties being planned.. There are Wakanda Theme parties already had (I deejayed one here in Oakland) and being planned...
There are an array of panel discussions and guests coming out to screenings.. If I'm correct, writer Ta Nehisi Coates will be out here doing a special conversation before one of the screenings...
Folks are excited as they should be.. They are excited about young director and writer Ryan Coogler who is from Oakland.. They wanna see him do well especially as he undertakes this huge multi-million dollar project..
Folks are excited about the all Black cast and wanna see actors/actresses like Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong'o and Forest Whitaker to name a few, get there well deserved shine...
There's been a huge campaign to bring attention to this Marvel Comic movie including early releases of the trailer which has no doubt sparked a fire under many of us...and captured our collective imaginations
Folks are eager to see this movie and the splendor it promises at a time when we are seeing our humanity continuously and overtly assaulted in ways folks have never experienced except in history books, by the highest offices in the land and its supporters.
Sadly those over the top assaults are backed up by punitive laws and policies ranging from the FBI coming after people who speak up for Black rights, who they identify as Black Identity Extremists on down to the removal and reversal of damn near every policy and executive order that one might say was favorable to Black folks, no matter how modest..
Folks are eager to see Black Panther movie at a time when we have seen the emboldened rise of Neo Nazis who call themselves Alt-Right. And with that rise has come a record number of hate crimes, assaults and sadly a number of deaths.
This is all on top of day to day microaggressions that have simply left folks weary and yearning for reaffirmation, upliftment and a chance to build and celebrate community..
As the release date for Black Panther approaches, we've seen a number of attempted attacks including a Facebook group that has since been suspended, that was formed with the express purpose to depress Rotten Tomato ratings.
We've seen attempts to boycott the movie because some of the actors don't have Black wives or dating partners.. Others were upset that some of the clothing that folks were wearing at the official premiers weren't made by Black designers..
We have also seen a number of think pieces, memes and conversations that seem to determined to derail all this excitement and cast people as mindless individuals who cant tell fact from fiction.
Granted some of what we are seeing and hearing are cautionary warnings reminding us about the ills of Hollywood and how they are constantly at work manipulating and how this Black Panther movie folks are excited to see is owned and financed by white folks..
Alongside those cautionary warnings are a number of memes stating a desire for folks who plan on attending the movie to have just as much enthusiasm, excitement and inspiration for the real Black Panthers who formed in Oakland in 1966 to fight police brutality..
I think there needs to be a bit of perspective and gentle reminder here...First and foremost, i think our people are smart enough and aware enough to walk and chew gum at the same time... Seems like there are some who want the movie to fail so they can have some sort of morbid satisfaction...
Our folks are NOT stupid. Our folks are discerning.. Folks can get excited and enjoy the Black Panther movie, know the difference between the comic book hero and real life freedom fighters and hold space to celebrate and appreciate both.
The same way many of us can watch and cheer our favorite sports teams or chill out and play dominos or spades with family and friends while still fighting oppression, one can have fun, dress up and express a desire for this movie to do well, and still learn about the real Black Panthers
Case in point, I can't speak for everywhere else around the country, but here in the Bay Area we should be reminded that when the Black Panther Party celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, there was tremendous amounts of excitement, hype and desire to learn, support and uplift.
There was an exhibit at the Oakland Museum that was packed damn near everyday with long lines to get in and special sessions set aside for schools and colleges..That OMCA exhibit was accompanied by a jam packed conference on the Panthers with a number of other well attended exhibits at other locations ranging from huge warehouses in West Oakland to small art galleries in downtown to special exhibits on various college campuses.
During the 50th anniversary, there was a huge concert in front of City Hall to packed panel discussions held at various colleges, churches, libraries and community centers. Folks came from all over and in large numbers eager to learn and meet real life Black Panthers who shared their stories and became heroes and sheroes to a younger generation..
When the Black Panthers held their 50th anniversary gala.. folks from all over the world with a couple of hundred being turned away because there simply wasn't enough space.
The point being made here is that we should not forget how folks came out to embrace and learn about the Black Panthers in droves..Give folks some credit versus constant criticism. Folks came out to support and learn about the Panthers even as there was scant main stream news coverage.
They came out in droves even as there were no trailers being shown in theaters or a multi-million dollar ad campaign.. Folks came out because they understood these were real life heroes and sheroes who fought for their freedom..
Would there have been similar response in other cities if there was a 50th anniversary Black Panther exhibit? I think so. The reason being is that the Panthers for a variety of reasons captured folks imagination..Their presence, their love and commitment, their style and overall way of being appealed to many and gave folks hope and upliftment at a time when folks were under systemic attack..
When the Panther 50th anniversary happened, there was clear intention to make sure folks who came to the exhibits came away knowing than names Bobby Seale and Huey Newton. There was intention to make sure folks saw more than just the black beret and guns, but also knew about the 10 Point Platform, the plight of political prisoners and the community survival programs the Panthers started.. I'm sure many remembered those lessons and were inspired to learn and do more
As the Black Panther movie approaches seems to me there are lots of opportunity to organize and spark discussions about the great things happening throughout Africa, from its technological prowess to its present day freedom fighters to any number of themes.. Heck, just getting folks to think about science fiction and encouraging us all to use our imagination is damn good step in the right direction. From Octavia Butler to Wakanda to Afro futurism.. Bring it all on and let folks discover new worlds to build upon.. wedding party items for bridesmaid in dark purple
May the spirit of Wakanda live in all of us..
s/o Reginald W. Lyles Malkia Devich Cyril Shawn Taylor Charlese Banks Chaney Turner Jeff Chang Malcolm Shabazz Hoover Hakim Green Byron Hurt Jessica Ayo Nina McKinney-Alabi Kelly McCoy Williams Alicia Garza Harry Louis Williams Thandisizwe Chimurenga