As a congregation yesterday our church, New Life Community Church, went to view the highly anticipated movie, Black Panther. This outing was special for a few reasons. One was because we encouraged the congregation to dress the par in all black or African garb. Secondly, the viewing was immediately following our morning worship service which was FIRE!!!! Then lastly, it was no cost to our members. Three other church came together to buy out the theater as an opportunity to fellowship and show solidarity. Sundays in my book are made for church, family, and fun! I saw this day as a great opportunity to do the most and get the entire family dressed up in coordinating African inspired outfits. Being that my sewing machine is hidden in my in-law’s garage I couldn’t make anything so I simply took scissors along with safety pins to the 6 yards of fabric I had that a friend brought back from Ghana.
My husband wore an all-black suit with a complimenting sash I made from the fabric. I missed my hair appointment this week so it was an easy decision to go with a head wrap using the matching fabric. The original design idea for my two boys was to create a front pocket with the fabric to sew onto a regular black t-shirt. That didn’t happen so they ended up wearing dashikis that they already had. Last month a family friend brought Jayla a dress from South Africa, so she wore that along with the head bow I cut out using the same fabric. I’m not gonna lie, we rolled up to Grand Lake Theater looking like Wakanda royalty.
The real reason for this post is to share with you three lines in the movie that pierced my mind, heart, and soul! The movie, directed by a family friend, Ryan Coogler, was phenomenal to say the least. Almost a year ago his wife, my team mate and friend shared with me pics of the set and how taxing and ground breaking this film was. I honestly had no idea then the totality of this movie and how it would shape the world as we know it. If you haven’t seen it, go see it. And if you have seen it, go see it again! Yes, it’s that good.
THE HEART PIERCER
“tell him who you are!” by Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett)
I almost lost it during this part of the movie. The Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) was challenged to a fight for the throne of Wakanda by a neighboring tribe’s man. Black Panther was being served left and right, to the point it looked like he was down for the count. With the people of Wakanda onlooking and his mother right there in his corner, she yelled with a growl from her belly in a manner of which only a Black woman can, “tell him who you are!” That moment was extremely sobering for Black Panther and I believed it was felt throughout the audience as well. It’s pivotal moments just like this one, when we want to give up, when we feel like we are in over our heads and that the giant Goliath is getting the best of us that we need powerful words spoken to our souls as reminders to give it all you got! Stand tall, don’t go out like a punk! Give it another go and finish the race!
As Black people, with our culture being stripped from us and in general the world reciting words of inferiority, a stern reminder of your roots, pedigree, and the DNA that runs through your veins is the remedy at times. In response to his mother’s outcry, the Black Panther claps back with thunder in his voice, “I am the son of T’Chaka King of Wakanda!” It’s like he had a come to Jesus moment about who he was. This line impacted me most because it reinforced our impact as mothers. As parents, we help to shape the identity of our children. We are their first source of esteem and confidence. In this scene, it was beautifully displayed how influential a mother’s presence, position, and voice is in her child’s life, no matter their age. Just as the bible says to train up a child in the way he should go, as parent we must do our part to teach our children who they are, so they’ll be able to respond in full confidence as did the Black Panther.
THE MIND PIERCER
“Just because it works well doesn’t mean it can’t be improved” by Shuri (Letitia Wright)
One of the reasons why this movie is so brilliant is because of the technological advances which is one of the trademarks of the Wakanda nation. During one of the scenes, The Black Panther is challenged by the princess, the Chief Technology Officer of Wakanda, about the use of one of their high tech gadgets. The Black Panther, claims the device works so what is the fuss? Shuri taunts the royal heinousness with the challenging line, “Just because it works well doesn’t mean it can’t be improved” Her words suggest that there is always room for improvement. Hmph?? That good isn’t good enough. Shuri raises the bar for our idea of excellence. I am guilty of sometimes being comfortable with what is working. This shift in mindset positions one to always be on the cutting edge, to assume the role of a trailblazer never being left behind. This one line challenged me to examine those areas of my life that are working well but can still be improved. Thanks, Shuri!
THE SOUL PIERCER
“…just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships…” by Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan)
I will be the first to admit that nearly any reference to American slavery makes me sick to my stomach. The thought that another human being would kidnap, enslave, and subject a person to the treatment African Americans endured for centuries digs at every fiber of my being. Near the end Killmonger, the villain in the movie, is nearing death. The Black Panther offers a hand of mercy for recovery. Killmonger, knowing he’s in for it declines the King’s offer of another chance at life with these souls piercing words, “…just bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships...” Wow, that was deep, right? Almosrt every line he served in the movie was. The ocean as a grave? The desire for freedom in the afterlife over the bitterness of oppression and bondage. But then again, the vivid reminder that during the slave trade men, women, boys, and girls made the same life-defining decision to be free in spirit than bound by physical chains. That statement allowed me to consider what choice would I had made if I was one of the hundreds of black bodies crammed onto a ship like chattel, forced to eat slop, and stolen from my homeland. Maybe I would have jumped too.
If these mere three lines struck you as they did me, just imagine what the full movie would do. Thank you, Ryan, cast, and crew for giving my boys a movie they could see themselves as the superhero in. You should have seen them cheering on as The Black Panther contended. Thank you for allowing me as a black woman to see power exercised in combat, competence, and love. Thank you for reminding my husband that there is royalty inside his DNA as a black man. I’m certain we will see it again, along with the DVD when it is released.
Job well done.