So, I understand better than many people talking about it the excitement about the upcoming movie. Plus, at this point, Marvel has perfected the art of making these superhero movies and from all appearances from the trailer, the movie is going to be cool as heck. It seems to contain all the cool elements that are going to appeal directly to African cultural senses. The movie is primed to be a huge hit with everyone, especially African people. On a surface level, there seems to be absolutely nothing wrong with this. On a deeper level, there is much about this that requires more thought, analysis, and discussion.
There is much that has changed over the last few years as it relates to communications, the impact of social media on human relations, etc. What hasn't changed much is that Hollywood, California, U.S., through its massive movie and television industry, is still the unquestioned leader of shaping images on a worldwide level. Hollywood has spawned Bollywood, Nollywood, Tollywood, and other miniature Hollywoods that represent image making in South Asia, throughout Africa, etc., through cinema. In this sense, we would be naive if we did not see the connection between T'Challa, the Black Panther character, and our real life African liberation movement for freedom, justice, and forward progress for Africans and all of humanity. Stan Lee, the founder and visionary for Marvel comics has admitted as such through his statements that he modeled the relationship of Professor X and Magneto from the X-Men based on comparisons he made with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X's philosophical differences on how to achieve freedom and justice. And, I completely understand today that when I was reading Black Panther comics as a child, somewhere in my subconsciousness, I understood that I was reading much more than a story about one man. I was reading about the pride and dignity of a people. Now, to Stan Lee's credit, he unlike most people producing culture within the capitalist empire at that time, saw the cry for that dignity coming from our people through our international liberation struggles. The Black Panther comic fed directly into that cry and desire and T'Challa, or the Black Panther, was a living embodiment of that desire.
Still, its critically important that we make the clear distinction. T'Challa, the Black Panther, and any form of entertainment, is not our struggle for national liberation, Pan-Africanism, and socialism. And, part of capitalism's intentional use for movies like this one is to convince our people, and everyone else, that movies like Black Panther are examples of our forward progress as a people. The sleek, cool, and independent attitude displayed by Chadwick Bozeman in his role as T'Challa/Black Panther is a subtle suggestion to all of us that we have the opportunity under capitalism to become rich as he is. Cool as he is. Good looking like he is. And, that the pathway to our dignity is pursuing this individualistic approach of finding our niche within capitalism. I would even argue that much of this is exactly what is fueling the overwhelming excitement of our people about this movie. The mere fact that a movie like this can be produced is evidence to many of us that we are finally being acknowledged by the capitalist system which means that we may at last have our chance to move forward within it. This theme is evident and played out in the concept of a superhero that will solve the problems of the people. Those of us who are revolutionaries know that only the people can save the people. If a superhero was going to do it, they have had 500+ years to win our freedom and the fact they haven't surfaced to fight this fight for us tells me that if we want to win, we are going to have to fight this fight ourselves.
The process of us fighting for ourselves is displayed not through a fantasy superhero, but through the struggle to organize and unite our people through the understanding that only the masses of people make history, not individuals. That means having an understanding that the Black Panther character is a product of the Black Panther Party and all of our organizations for liberation. If anything, the character is an effort to move us away from recognizing the need for hard work and dedication to win our freedom because we can do it individually while avoiding the messy struggle of having to work with other people. And, this influence undoubtedly plays a role in the attraction of the character with our people, but when it comes to our concrete struggle for national liberation, there is clearly no relation between a comic book movie character and our people's genuine struggle for forward progress.
None of this is to suggest that we shouldn't enjoy this movie. African people suffer indignities on a daily basis so whatever resources we can use to salvage our fragile sense of self, I'm all for us benefiting from. Due to my history with the character through the comic book in my youth, I have no doubt that I will see the movie. Probably, as is my custom, on the night it premieres. But, I encourage all of us to recognize it as strictly entertainment and for us to be overly conscious of the propaganda intent of this movie and all other forms of entertainment produced by the capitalist system. Our freedom, independence, and dignity will only be achieved through the mass empowerment of our people and that will only happen through the mass organization of our people. Anyone who wants to express an opinion about our people should be required to be active in an organization working for our people. We should create a climate where it becomes uncomfortable for any of us to feel confident expressing what our people need to do when we are not even committed and faithful enough in our people to work with us on a consistent basis to move us forward. Or, maybe some of us have trouble differentiating fantasy from reality. Maybe some of us are actually waiting for T'Challa to come and free us from imperialism. If so, I highly recommend you don't hold your breath waiting.