Black Panther claws past stereotypes

Published on February 27, 2018 in Pacer Times, University of South Carolina Aiken’s college paper

Black Panther is a revolutionary work of art, whose preceding comic strip first emerged in 1966, during the Civil Rights and budding black-power movements.

Adilifu Nama, author of Super Black: American Pop Culture and Black Superheroes, said, “What makes the Black Panther such a significant figure in American popular culture, as well as black popular culture, is its groundbreaking representation of blackness as more than a stereotypical and racist trope of inferiority.”

Black Panther has a stellar cast, thought provoking and empowering commentary with high-technology for a mystical backdrop.

The film begins with origins of the Black Panther; the following setting is 1992 Oakland, California, a culturally significant city and point of foucs in the present-day story. Here, the class system is criticized and the oppression of predominantly Black communities, like Oakland, the same city in which the Black Panther Party rose.

The film has well-crafted humor. The comic relief includes many lines charged with identity politics from the perspective of minority groups, both Black and woman. By this, issues of intersectionality are tackled.

Outstanding female roles are that of Nakia, T’Challa’s love interest, Shuri, his sister, who invents and operates much of Wakanda’s mesmerizing technology and Okoye, the general and lead of the exceptionally strong, all-female royal guards.

Not only are there allusions to civil rights, but the balance of African tradition and modernity is noteworthy. The Black Panther and his community show deep rooted practices and the importance of ancestral connection while harboring futuristic detail.

Black Panther is a georgious, uplifting movie, whose presence was much needed in the American film industry. Its release teaches the world that appearance doesn’t dictate who can and cannot be a hero.

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