*Disclaimer: This post contains spoilers. If you’re the type of person who is easily turned off by spoilers, then here is where you should stop reading.*
Black Panther, the latest Marvel comic book tale to hit theaters, is winning big with many audiences, including black movie goers. After watching the film with my husband for a movie date, I left the theater completely understanding why. It was an excellent film from start to finish, and the casting was superb.
But I also left the movie feeling a little hurt, upset, and angry.
The story’s plot centered around King T’Challa’s fight to keep his country’s untapped resource of vibranium away from the rest of the world, and for the benefit of the Wakandan kingdom (a fictional African country).
T’Challa’s fight was mostly with his cousin, and American counterpart, Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordon), who wanted to use the kingdom’s resources for the benefit of all black people around the world.
Killmonger, whose father was killed by T’Challa’s dad – T’Chaka – was really pissed that T’Chaka left him in Oakland as an orphaned young man. Although Killmonger made many accomplishments for himself as an adult- both good and bad – he was still left behind. Eventually, Killmonger came to Wakanda, snatched the throne, and imposed his way of global black liberation, which is one reason why I found it hard to hate him as a villain.
But the bottom line is that he was still left behind. I understand and empathize with Killmonger’s feelings, and my African descendants are long gone.
Honestly, I want to one day know what black liberation feels like, just like Killmonger. But beyond that, I want to understand what it means for me or my children to not have to fight twice as hard for half as much, thanks to white supremacy. I want to know my ancestors beyond the Pan-African slave trade, and watch the sunset in the same places where my direct bloodline has fought, died, found joy, and healed from their pain. But that will never happen for me, or many of the 2 million blacks of African descent in this country.
As much as I would love to go back to Africa, after watching Black Panther, I realized that maybe I have a lot more inner healing to do before I make that voyage.
I left the movie feeling hurt that there was so much stolen from my ancestors, and that there are no real life possibilities of rectifying the crimes that were committed against black people in America.
We will never see anything beyond an apology for slavery, Jim Crow, lynchings, or mass incarceration. Racism will always be a thing, as white supremacy and gaslighting has become the rule and the exception. Hell, black people will always be viewed as violent by white supremacists and white supremacist sympathizers looking for any and every reason to reclaim their “victimhood.” It’s sickening.
Inside, all of this makes me feel like a child who is too tired to take another step. The child who so desperately wants to go home.
Maybe one day, I will be able to go to Africa and experience joy beyond racism, and the bullshit that comes with it (or at least something similar). But I doubt that I would fully be able to enjoy the moment.
My reality is that I am part of the tribe of black children who were overworked and nearly aborted by white colonialists and supremacists.
If there is a way for me to heal from this trauma before I come back to the Motherland, I am willing to do it, even if healing means that my voyage would be more pithy.
But first, I have to find a way to heal, and just like Erik Killmonger – who represents many black Americans facing the same battle – that’s one hell of a war to engage in.