So I waited for the hype to die down a bit before going to see the infamous Black Panther.
Let’s get a few things out of the way.
FIRST OF ALL. Winston Duke and Michael B. Jordan almost made a sista jump INTO the screen, mmkay?! I wasn’t ready to feel my soul carry me to the screen the way it tried to. The amount of black men, excuse me, strong powerful black men on the screen was a breath of fresh air I never knew I needed.
The African diaspora and pride throughout the movie was more than I anticipated. There were notes of my culture and the respect for the elders, the tribes, and the land truly lifted my heart. It is difficult to explain why certain things are important to one’s culture, and I feel Black Panther did an exceptional job at displaying it.
Now to the goat meat of this article.
The resurgence of black African pride in America is a wonder to see. Indeed, history repeats itself. My generation is allowed to get a glimpse of what it felt like in the late 1960’s-1970’s in America for black people. Dashiki’s everywhere, black people reclaiming their cultures, the afro is back in full effect, etc. What no one is talking about is how this looks to Africans and the children of those who migrated from Africa.
I was raised to have respect for the Yoruba tribe. Respect for who I was and my family lineage. I was constantly told, “Remember who’s daughter you are.” I was trained to respect my elders, and to represent my African home. We danced Africa. We ate Africa. We dressed African. I grew up with a village of people who raised their children the same way I was raised.
Growing up as a child, it was hard to be the daughter of an African. My mother’s accent was the butt of many jokes. She was harassed. Many of my family members, including myself, were referred to as “African Booty Scratchers.” We were told we looked like monkeys and most of my friends with the same skin color as I were literally claiming to be half white, or half-anything for that matter as long as it wasn’t related to being African. African children were treated as outcasts if they weren’t mischievous.
Watching these same children who terrorized African children, grow up to be adults wearing African clothes, paying $100 for someone to blindly tell them what African country they are from, and embrace cultures they shunned for years is startling. Yes, I understand that people are raised in ignorance and that what matters now is that everyone is “woke,” times have changed, blah blah blah. The fact that the narrative of our behavior towards Africa has changed is a major step for humankind, not only in America, but abroad as well.
But I can’t deny the shock to my spirit on this one. The child within me is literally watching bullies embrace what they told me I should hate. My full lips, shapely body, cheekbones that I was told came from the blood of monkeys, patterns that I’ve worn on my ebony skin since birth that people are dying to find, are all the rage now. I try not to view it as a trend because I remember how many glass ceilings fell from the unification of black people in the Post-civil rights era. It doesn’t help that my inner child is also smiling smugly at the fact that I was raised in a culture that knew it’s worth and pride before it became “the thing” to do and be.
Watching the descendants of African kings and queens on screen and making their way through Hollywood is poetic justice to the pride embedded within me as a child. I can almost feel my ancestors pointing at it all and saying “See, no matter how deep they try to bury us, we will always sprout.” It has given me hope in having children, because I’ll admit, with the killing of black men and women in America I was hesitant to bring a child into this world.
I could go on for days, but I say all of this to emphasize one thing. Let this be more than a trend. Let’s continue to teach our children that they DO come from kings and queens and prideful people who appreciate their land, their skin, their own people. Let us continue to teach each other that shame only comes from not respecting who we are, and that we are more than what anyone can tell us. If you can embrace Wakanda with so much love and honor, then you can do the same for African countries that truly exist. Visit the homeland. Adopt cultures. Live Africa. Breathe the motherland.
Can you imagine who our children will be when they are taught to have pride in the source of their melanin and to not shun it as children in my generation were taught? I can’t wait to see it all.