Black Panther-Questions Answered +

Black Panther Spoilers ahead:
From a friend: How do you feel about Wakanda being isolationist? After all, they’ve had this amazing power all along and have done little to nothing to help the oppressed. […] the villain of the movie reinforces the stereotype of the violent, angry, young black American male. This is exactly the opposite of what I was expecting. Even more annoying is that this violent black male actually had the right idea about how Wakanda should be run, even if his methods were made to be flawed.

My response: My reading of the movie is a bit more nuanced. It’s an action superhero film and it is more. The reasoning behind Wakanda isolating themselves, the reasoning behind sharing their technology and ways of life, and the reasoning behind arming the “2 billion folks that look like us”, are well presented. Almost equally.

The short:
I have no issue with Wakanda being isolationist. It was decided upon by those who were leading the nation at the time. At some point, there would be a shift, new generation/new leaders, who would want to do things differently. This is the time in which Black Panther takes place. This shift in consciousness and deed. What can/must be done now. The way you describe Erik is as an anti-villain. I agree with his indictment of Wakanda. I do not agree with waging war on the world. I do feel I understand him/sympathize with him wholeheartedly.

The long:
African proverb: The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel it’s warmth.
Alternative wording: If the young are not initiated into the tribe they will burn down the village just to feel it’s warmth.

N’Jadaka-Erik-Killmonger was abandoned/orphaned by his people at a young age. He knew his father was killed by the Black Panther (his uncle). He knew he was royalty. What Zuri/Uncle James and King T’Chaka did to him was cruel. It deemed Erik as unimportant, nearly worthless. Some Thing to be left behind. Cut off from his heritage, his people, land, he found a reason to live. His motivations are multi-faceted, multi-focused.
He was a brilliant high achiever, fueled by hatred, stemming from deep emotional personal pain, as well as the awareness of the plight of black people on this planet. He trained all his life to kill the son of the man who took his father’s life (transferred revenge). Also, Erik is a young person who took on his father’s beliefs. He is his father’s son, his father’s legacy.
I don’t see him as a stereotype of a violent young black male at all. I can see how others would. In my opinion, they are looking at surface level. Most every character is so distinct in personality, beliefs/ideology, personal aesthetics, which is a triumph in mainstream action movies and Hollywood films as a whole. If there are any stereotypes I’d say they are the cartoonish Klaw, and Agent Ross. If I had to name another flat character I’d say, T’Challa and Shuri’s mom-Queen Mother Ramonda.

As far as how I feel about Wakanda isolating themselves, I am more in line with Nakia’s beliefs (eventually T’Challa’s). I’d want to share. BUT unlike them, I’d still want Wakanda to be hidden/protected. Invite only. There’d be ambassadors, teachers, spies, and folk planted all over the world just like they’ve always done. And there would be a parceling out of information/technology, like elders to children. Nakia believed Wakanda was strong enough to help people and protect itself. I’m not so sure. The world as is, couldn’t handle Wakanda’s “coming out”. The weapons made with vibranium would be more coveted by “powerful” nations than the ways in which it could help the planet’s inhabitants as a whole. People can be awful and hateful and I think many would be even more afraid of black people.
There have been rich black people for years who try to start programs here in the US for housing, education, arts, entertainment. They have been people who have tried to buy major networks, who have been thwarted in many ways. I know that last sentence is just my words and maybe one day I’ll be able to share more concrete proof/or others will make it known publicly how they’ve been stopped from doing more.
Know this: I believe that black liberation is liberation for many. Like I believe that feminism, as well as LGBTQ rights/liberation will help the human species as a whole evolve into something worthy of the word “civilization”. Black people aren’t homogenous but the discrimination, hatred, fear, towards black folks, or darker skinned anyone [colorism], is similar. Oppression unites.

Going back to the idea of seeing Erik-Killmonger, as a violent, young, black male, makes me think of the “white imagination”. The white imagination of black lives is limited. Similar to the heterosexual imagination of homosexuals. Just one example in recent media history, is the creators of Game of Thrones creating a show called Confederacy, where slavery was never abolished. When I read about this project last summer, I was really upset. Six months into 45’s Presidency, on top of all the publicized murders of black folks by police officers, and they were trying to sell this mess to the public. I wondered, why not make something where black people were never enslaved here in the US to begin with? Confederacy, if made by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss would be detrimental. Based on their previous work, the show would brutalize/sexualize black bodies in the name of entertainment.
I don’t know if you noticed that there was very little blood in Black Panther. When Klaw was shot there was the bullet hole with a little blood surrounding it, but in that same sequence where Erik shoots his gf, there’s no focus on dead eyes, bullet wound, blood. When Erik slits the Dora Milage warrior’s throat there is no blood and no emphasis on her dead body. When Erik dies, there is no focus on his body, his wound. The camera focuses on the killer and/or the people who witness the death. That is powerful cinematic storytelling. People have told me when I mention this, that it is a PG-13 movie. I think it was also a conscious choice. I’m bone and soul tired of seeing black bodies mangled, massacred, brutalized, in real life videos, as well as through the guise of entertainment, and maybe the filmmakers behind Black Panther feel the same way.

This is a part of the beauty of seeing a movie version of Wakanda. Wakanda is a nation untouched by colonization which is something that I and others have imagined/imagine. My dream of the future has never been sterile, white, silver, or dirty grey. It has always been colorful and full of life. Not perfect but not so clinical or depressing. One of the things about the visuals of Wakanda that I appreciate is the history was always present. Going off on a small tangent. Just like in music, the roots of the past, are integrated in the present, and will birth the future. When I was growing up in the late 80s/90s, people complained of sampling in music. People would talk about how songs were biting off of older songs. I always saw it as an homage to the past. The thread of our parents music with our own. Us taking it a little farther, spinning off of what came before. Spinning new material while keeping the thread. I didn’t see it as a lack of originality like some did.
So in Black Panther, when I see animals being tended to, people trading/shopping in outdoor markets, the rural areas, the cities teeming with things that Shuri and her team have designed, I feel a sense of, Yes! and rightness. It feels/reads as real to me. The spirit of Wakanda is real. We will see many great changes in our society because of films like Hidden Figures and Black Panther for sure. Especially amongst women and people of color in stem fields. As an American of African descent I am more than ready for it. Media shapes culture. I’m ready to see how our culture shifts here in the US and a global scale.


All Sides Now

I never really talk about it online besides hinting at it because I don’t want to be discriminated against more than I already have been in my life, but because of Carrie Fisher and some brave folks out there, like Jenifer Lewis, and like the woman who started the #medicatedandmighty tag, I’m becoming more willing.

I was diagnosed with Bipolar I in May 2004, a few days before my 26th birthday. On my chart it said I had a psychotic episode with spiritual delusions. I basically thought everyone should love each other and love the earth and I should walk around spreading love and light. But I am a literal person and that’s what I did. I walked and walked and walked all around my neighborhood to the point of exhaustion. I couldn’t feed myself and I couldn’t sleep and I ended up in the hospital. I was taken to Del Amo Hospital (Torrance, CA) and I was placed in the Del Rey Unit. In my head or whatever I was told this wasn’t about me, this was for the people around me. To chill and don’t worry so much. I felt safe. I was in a hospital of Love and was aligned with the King (del rey). King of Love, which I interpreted as God at the time. So no problem, I was ok, and things were fine. Just a bit of a hiccup. I honestly felt it was a spiritual emergence that turned into an emergency and in a different culture I wouldn’t have been drugged and pushed back out into the world to carry on like my whole world hadn’t been shaken to the root.

When I got out of there I took my meds for about 6 months to get people off my back and to get back to work. Because I didn’t believe the diagnosis and I was off the meds, I ended up back in the hospital again in June 2005. And it was a really bad experience. I realized that I had actually been manic for at least 3 months. The doctors told me that people who have Bipolar disorder usually went on and off their meds and their lives were ruined and they hurt their friends and family members and did I want that for myself. I said no. I’ve been med compliant going on 13 years and it’s been a journey. I was on tons of medication when I left. At least 6 pills. I found a psychiatrist a year or so later to help take me off of them and it took about 3-4 years to do so. I’ve been on one mood-stabilizer since and it helps.

I was in the hospital one last time in December of 2011. After I had the fall out with my dad when his mom passed, I was completely suicidal because I had lost my mom (rejection) a couple years before, and now my dad. I checked myself in because I had no will to live and thought maybe they could help me. I thought I’d give it one last effort.

What got me out of there that time was, we had a group meeting where we had to find something worth living for. I couldn’t think of anything. One of the patient’s marriage had just ended. He and his husband had been together for over 9 years and he had been a house-husband so he had no skills to get a job, no family support, his husband had moved on quickly!, and his heart was broken. He was looking through People Magazine? and saw a picture of Chely Wright (the first out country music singer) and her wife on their wedding day and that made him feel hopeful that he could have that again someday. It was a reason for him to live. I thought he was so brave to say that to us, and share with us, when we were all a bunch of strangers, stuck in a psych ward.

I hadn’t “come out” in the hospital because I could pass as straight *shudders* and didn’t want any hassle. That made me feel a bit cowardly in comparison to him. I begin to think about why I was there. What brought me to this place at this time? I had been depressed because of the relationship with my parents or lack thereof and also all the news of people, kids, toddlers!, being murdered for being perceived as gay, being bullied, assaulted in all kinds of horrible ways, and killing themselves for simply being who they are. I started thinking about the past year and a half and all the kids who had been bullied/committed suicide, and how no one outside of the community really knew or cared. Or so I thought. It was such a lonely feeling. What could I do? What could I do about any of it.

I could live.

I decided if I could help make a world that made sure that no other kid took their life because of their sexuality or gender or parent’s rejection, society’s rejection, etc. that it would be enough. It is/was my reason to live.

Chely Wright being out and open and happily married changed the guy’s life and changed mine by extension, reinforcing what I already knew. Visibility matters, representation matters, and media shapes culture. We need to see ourselves and see ourselves happy and healthy, so we can know that it’s possible. That we aren’t evil, unnatural, bad, or any of those things that heterosexual people say, that kill us on the inside and make it so it seems okay to take our lives away from us in such brutal ways.

The confrontation I had with my dad last week and the horrible things that my parents said and did to me and my brother, caught up with me full force last night. I’m not suicidal at all but I am grieving, angry, distracted, moody, tired.

Dealing with a chronic mental illness is an everyday challenge and sometimes I feel completely drained and over trying. Because it’s never-ending. There’s always this incessant self-monitoring going on, and a bit of shame. Since ’45, the state of our country, the threats against (my)health care, the environment, law, shite with my family, it’s been really scary and overwhelming. And I’ve been super angry. I have never been physically violent against another person as an adult though. I purposely haven’t. That calmness that people perceive in me, that willingness to listen, to be patient, to be considerate, are choices I make. That stereotype of violence and the stigma that goes along with people knowing, really does my head in. I have attempted to end my life. I have hurt myself. I want to get away from that. It’s tough though because no matter where I go, I am there.


I’ve been in school since Spring 2010 and it’s been a safe place because I’m good at it. I have 2 degrees, one in Social Behavioral Sciences, with an emphasis in Child Development, and one in American Sign Language Studies. I am a semester away from graduating with a BA in Film Production. What’s been cool about school 😉 is that I love learning. At the end of the term, there is something to show for what I’ve been doing with my time, professors like me, I get to be social with people, my family and friends are supportive, and maybe proud? of me, and it’s flexible. If I can’t make it to class because I’m having a bad day, it’s not going to shake the foundation of my life/livelihood, and working on campus has built-in benefits because I’ve been allowed to miss work because school comes first. Everyone around seems to want me (us students) to graduate and move on.

But I can’t do school right now. My concentration and heart aren’t in it. And I’m in this space of the unknown. It’s a bit scary. And the poverty ya’ll, the poverty that I’ve dealt with since the diagnosis (which stripped me of my ability to be financially independent with any consistency) is awful, embarrassing, and limiting.
what I can do right now is live my purpose and work to create media, live and express my truth, so that it may help people, our kids, our future, and our rainbow tribe, know that we can be in the world and live. That we are valuable and an essential part of creation and that some of us will work for this until our last breaths.

When people talk about the gay agenda I’m like, yes, I absolutely have one. This is it. And I’m not going to apologize or be less than I am because people are ignorant and lack compassion.

I’m out of steam for now. Thank you all who read this in its entirety 

I made big strides today 🙂

For anyone who needs help, reach out:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Call 1-800-273-8255