Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Black Panther film (a Review)

There are many storylines mentioned in the film Black Panther (from issues of Blackness, the Diaspora, war, technology, monarchy, imperialism, geo-politics, etc.). Also, you are free to disagree with my views since we're human. Disagreement is fine and we are diverse in our interpretations and we have the right to express our interpretations too. Many far right people & white racists hate the film, because of its emphasis on Blackness. Many sincere, great conscious people including Hoteps (who are not conscious people, but black people who are bigots, xenophobes, xenophobes, and misogynists) have issues with certain aspects of the film because of its political narrative. Some of them feel that it omits certain, important points. In other words, they view the character Killmonger as the real hero while T’Challa as the more of the compromising character. They view Killmonger as wanting to liberate black people worldwide while T’Challa desiring compromise with the global power structure. What is the truth? I took my time to think about it and here are my nuisance views (of describing the Black Panther film's strengths and imperfections). The film came from the views of Stan Lee (like Otto Preminger, he used many themes to interpret black life in their own minds as only black people can know fully comprehend the pain and the struggle of the black experience). Many characters from Killmonger and T’Challa express contradictions and imperfections. Killmonger is right that black people worldwide should be unified and end the prison industrial complex plus police brutality.

Yet, he is wrong in advocating mayhem and destructive violence in nefarious ways in getting towards that aim. There is a difference between positive actions (like legitimate self-defense, community building, and growing networks among the African Diaspora) and mayhem or nihilism. Killmonger has a legitimate reason to be upset at oppression (as he was a victim of oppression, neglect, and disrespect. He lived in Oakland, California which was the home of the Black Panther Party back in 1966), but uses the wrong approach. He even said that he desired to kill children to enact his agenda, which is sick. T’Chaka is wrong to murder Killmonger’s father. T’Chaka is the super capitalist. Killmonger’s father’s name is N’Jobu (who shows a love for black Americans and black people in general). N'Jobu planned to share Wakanda's technology with people of African descent around the world to help them conquer their oppressors.

T’Challa (who is more nationalistic in Wakanda) wants change, but he is manipulated by a CIA agent to try to end his problems. In essence, the movie was about the views of nationalist and revolutionary views. There is nothing wrong with being a revolutionary or a progressive nationalist, but history is shown by many want to divide and conquer black people among diverse ideologies in order to maintain the status quo. We see this plainly in the FBI’s COINTELPRO. Both Killmonger and T’Challa claim to be for black people.  Yet, Killmonger is wrong for killing black people in the movie (as he is no hero in my eyes. In the film, he was about to kill a 16 year old black teenage character. This is not revolutionary. Killmonger supported black people who agree with him, but he wanted to kill black people who oppose him, which is anti-black by definition. Nakia was more progressive than both Killmonger and T'Challa). Killmonger makes legitimate points about black empowerment internationally, but he does evil in claiming it to be justification for his goals. Killmonger works with the character of Ulysess Klause, whose grandfather was a Nazi. Klause is a real villain in the movie since he wanted to steal vibranium for economic and exploitative purposes. T’Challa acts too compromising to the CIA agent (the CIA agent acts in the “white savior” archetype in the movie. He saves the life of Nakia) and the Western elites in general.

We know that the CIA, in real life has harmed communities worldwide (from Operation Ajax, etc. It is no secret that the CIA and the military industrial complex influence the production of movies in America). The CIA agent in the film in a way agitated conflict between T'Challa and Erik. Imagine if Erik and T'Challa united, despite their differences (plus go forward in a more positive direction), to cause Wakanda to be a springboard to cause black liberation worldwide? That would be great. T’Challa speaks to the United Nations in desiring his goals to be accomplished, but he doesn’t seek revolutionary change per se. He seeks reform and certain moderate policies of wanting Wakanda to be open to the world. Many people in real life have a strong desire to advance African American and African unity as a way to overthrow the system of oppression in general. One of the most powerful quotes in the film is when Erik Killmonger says the following words before he dies: “…Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from ships because they knew death was better than bondage.” This is historic since no movie in the history of mainstream film (during the 21st century) has a person who said these words. So, while Killmonger (who had no future plans but to be the sole ruler of the world without oversight and with unquestioned authority) was right in much of his goals, he used evil methods in trying to reach those goals. The lesson of Killmonger is that we don't use evil means to get righteous ends. We use righteous means to get righteous ends. You can make the case that Killmonger's views are similar to the views of Hoteps. The lesson of T'Challa is that we should be open to the world, but we ought to never compromise to the same institutions oppressing us. That is not an option. Also, T'Challa, despite his imperfections (i.e. him trying to be too moderate in his approach), actually cares about the black women around him, seeks their counsels, and fights for them.  Some have compared Erik's character to Malcolm X and T'Challa's character to Dr. King.

Yet, many even conscious people ignore the revolutionary views of Dr. King. We already know Malcolm X was a revolutionary. That's a fact. Malcolm X constantly fought oppression and desired the unity of black people worldwide to end the oppressive Western power structure. Dr. King was a revolutionary too because he opposed the Vietnam War, criticized capitalism, wanted civil disobedience, praised democratic socialism, and fought against imperialism including poverty. Some people don't know of these facts. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called the U.S. government the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today (in his speech from April 4, 1967 in Riverside Baptist Church). Dr. King was illegally monitored and persecuted by the FBI. T'Challa's character is not going to say those words from Dr. King in that film. T'Challla should be compared to someone else not Dr. King.

African Americans and Africans alike are victims of the same system of oppression in real life, so anyone hating on Africans or African Americans are traitors period. African Americans have made a huge sacrifice in the freedom movement in general and our contributions must be honored and acknowledged period. The black women in the film of Wakanda are shown as independent, strong, resourceful, and determined. This is massively different from other films outlining massively overt misogynoir. Yet, many women in the film are still minimized in their roles, personalities, and outlooks. Killmonger wants Wakanda to share its healing powers and technology with black people internationally in establishing a new society under his control. Killmonger isn't an egalitarian as he wants centralized power onto himself. Killmonger is not a role model either since he expresses misogynoir by killing his girlfriend, scoffing his aunt, choking a woman elder, and injuring Nakia. He has a lust for power. While he legitimately criticizes European colonialism, he ironically wants to use similar tactics (from the colonialists) in gaining power for himself.  Likewise, the land of Wakanda hoarded resources while poor people do exist in Wakanda. Wakanda must get its house in order too. Don’t get it twisted as economic inequality is real.

There is great value in Pan-Africanism since we need more social, political, and economic unity from across the Diaspora. I believe in Pan-African unity. What do we take from this? We take that while we love black people and we desire black liberation, we have to use a fair analysis of the film Black Panther as a means for us to acknowledge the magnificent talent of black actors and black actresses while not keeping our eyes off the prize (which is ultimately black liberation). There are complexities in the movie. This is a historic movie (with imperfections and strengths) and movies can’t liberate us. The genius of black acting (including the excellence of black director Ryan Coogler. We support great black directors and great black actors plus black actresses) is on full display in Black Panther. Also, we recognize the historic value of the actual Black Panther movement (filled with inspiration and fighters against police brutality and imperialism from Bobby Seale, Jamal Joseph, Barbara Easley, and to Afeni Shakur) at the same time. We believe in liberation for all black people not blind, nihilistic vengeance. Black Unity and Black Power is a must.


By Timothy

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