By now basically everyone knows about the global phenomenon that is black panther, social media is flooded with pictures of people dressed in African attire ready to storm the movie theatres and watch this movie. I must admit I first thought this movie was overhyped and just another social media trend with most people just doing it because their friends were doing it. I remember walking with my friend with my friend to the movies to watch this film and we were both talking about how extra the internet was being once again with this black panther movie. However, after watching the movie which is by the way amazing and a must watch for every person of any age, I began seeing the movie in a whole different light.
The movie is not just another black American movie (*cough*Tyler Perry) but was deep and meaningfully with subtle references to the problems black people all around the world face. It was also funny and light hearted without losing its message. I also felt the movie was representative of the African continent. It captured the essence of the African spirit without focusing on just one African continent which I thought was amazing. However, what really occurred to me was the importance of representation of black and ethnic minority people in every facet of life and profession, especially the media and film. Black panther is so iconic because it gives our children positive images and ideals of the African continent in general as well as something to hope for in terms of what Africa could be.
A lot of the time the narrative of Africa that gets played out in the media is that of a dependent, starving and corrupt continent, to an extent that is true. However, the African continent is so much more than that and has a depth and richness of culture that is unique to it. Africa is a continent that has produced greatest mind and inspirational individuals and its deficiencies should never drown out its beauty. Black Panther also reminded me of how positive labels being attached to African/ black concepts and ideals have personally affected me. I started relaxing my hair in primary school and thought that i could never have just my natural hair because it would be too difficult to take care of. This notion was reaffirmed every time i visited a salon and the hair dresser would complain that I had let my natural hair get tough again. It was therefore something that I had to keep up because there was something wrong with my natural hair, it did not matter that the relaxer was destroying my hair. However, around 2014/2015 the social media trend of people going natural started and I was amazed. I saw that it was possible to take care of your natural hair so that it was manageable and I began my natural hair journey. Basically seeing more black women embrace their natural hair made me love mine more and realise just how beautiful it was. We need to encourage representation and support it whenever it comes because it is essential that we don’t let negative stereotypes of our race be the only narrative.
Written by Chidinma Chukwuma