Black Panther was released this week in cinemas across the UK. It is a Marvel movie, set in Wakanda, a fictional African country and features a predominantly black cast. It is also on track to become one of the biggest ever superhero films.
To me, Black Panther is so much more than another movie.
It is finally showing that black people are not a monolith and that they exist outside of Tyler Perry movies.
It is seeing people who look like me on the big screen and not the small screens in our homes. (I still love you Nollywood.)
When I was a young girl, I remember being genuinely confused that I didn’t have an American accent, could barely sing and that I wasn’t (that) loud because that is the only representation I saw of young black females on TV. White was always the default and white people were the ones who could transcend more than one personality type.
This movie is more than just another Marvel film. I am looking forward to seeing amazing actors and actresses who just happen to be black.
Even seeing celebrities going to the premieres wearing African attire makes me feel so proud and happy. Clothes I used to be embarrassed about wearing are now being flamboyantly worn in all their colourful glory on the red carpet.
Although this is a fictional movie I hope it wakes people up to the reality that Africa is much much more than starving children. It is a place where people are resourceful and intelligent — building products to help their communities as I saw at Afrotech UK last month and leaping through stages of technology as Tom Ilube mentioned in his TED Talk about Intelligent Africa.
So thank you, Marvel, for making this movie because I know there will now be little black boys and little black girls who think that seeing people who like them on the big screen is normal (as it should be) and that makes me so happy.
So if you are a non-black person watching and you feel a bit uncomfortable watching because you don’t understand all the jokes or you are too busy staring at the actors/actresses hair, it is time to learn. We have learnt about your culture so please take the time to learn about ours. If the cast seems “overwhelmingly black”, please take a seat and enjoy the movie because I have been watching overwhelmingly white movies for 23 years.
I can’t wait till this becomes normalised and movies can just be movies.
But for now, hopefully, this is the start of something new in Hollywood and I’m definitely here for it because: Representation Matters.