By Tekita Bankhead
I’m not quite sure how I expected to feel when I finished seeing the premiere of Black Panther this past weekend. Of course, I walked in with anticipation, excitement, but no true expectations (well, at least not at the first of my two viewings). I was never a hardcore Marvel fan, and I was never really into comic books. So I sat there, clueless. Just simply giddy to see whatever came across the screen because I knew it would be a monumental movie for the culture.
Chile, it took me all of two minutes to realize that Black women were about to BLESS ME in this film, you hear me?! I. WAS. IN. LOVE! I saw a part of myself in each of the Wakanda women. I saw so much awe in the eyes of the little Black girl sitting beside me as she marveled when Princess Shuri (Letitia Wright) made STEM look effortless. Or the older Black woman I saw sit up a little straighter with pride every time Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) graced the screen. I’ve been inspired by the recent increase in representation of Black women in TV, but Black Panther really took it to new heights. Never have I felt so rejuvenated in my womanhood. So, without too many spoilers, here’s my take on the lessons we all needed to (re)learn about Black women:
Black women are supreme problem solvers. I don’t remember a single situation in the movie (or in life, honestly) where a woman was not a crucial part of the solution. We hold the key to so much knowledge and favor. I mean…look at all the things that are going incredibly well in your life. I guarantee you a Black woman is involved in there somewhere.
The strength and loyalty of Black women are unmatched. Black women have an innate gift to be watchful protectors, and the women of Wakanda were no exception. They were the epitome of “ride-or-die.” Literally. Black women are not afraid to fight, and the women of the Dora Milaje were intimidated by no one. Even if they did not personally agree with the outcome of the battles (trying not to spoil it, I promise), their loyalty never wavered. Whether a love, a family member, or a respected friend, Black women are the first to assist those that hold a special place in our heart. When you get to the light at the end of the tunnel, you’ll realize it was a Black woman shining on you the entire time, supporting you in your journey forward.
Black women are prepared for dangers that you never see coming. Black women are always two steps ahead of you. We plan for everything that can go right but prepare for everything that can go wrong. We consider all possibilities and potential scenarios in any given situation. I mean, think about it. Have you ever looked inside a Black woman’s purse? Shoot, we can probably build a ship to Wakanda with what’s in there alone! My point is we are always ready for whatever, whenever.
Trust Black Women. We just know. And you know that we know. And they know that we know. Yet, you double-check. You question us. You doubt us. And in our grace, we rarely say we told you so, even when we did. A major gem of the movie is the mantra: “Just because something works doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.” Imagine how much time we can save improving if you would just…listen.
Black women don’t have to flaunt our strength. It speaks for itself. Black women don’t always have the luxury of having our strength used to our benefit. People can use it as an excuse to disrespect us, shortchange us, or burden us with bullshit in the name of resilience. However, just because we can handle it does not mean we deserve it. In Black Panther, the strength of Black women was understood, respected, welcomed, and valued. Above all, it was never compromised by anyone else.
Black women can help you heal if you just allow it. Our love is miraculous. Our love changes lives. Contrary to inaccurate beliefs, Black women deeply honor vulnerability. We crave to help loved ones thrive and live out their greatest potential. Our love also exposes a level of accountability that many avoid or block altogether. The quicker people realize that Black women are here to uplift you during your valleys of weakness, the quicker we can get you to your mountaintops.
Thank you, Black Panther, for igniting a new threshold of pride in me. This weekend, I saw what happens when the world trusts us to save them without question or compromise. I saw what could happen when the brilliance of Black women was supported. Thank you for a job well done. for showing us that, even in a fictional world, we inherently possess the tools to save the world. You can’t win without Black women. Period.
Photo: Matt Kennedy/Marvel Studios (c)