The immensely popular Colorado Black Voices Matter Event happens Friday night and has a special Black Panther theme!!
This will be a fundraiser for the Hear Here Poetry Youth team as well.
Wear Black Panther themed clothes!! (optional of course)
DON'T FORGET THE WAKANDA PASSWORD
(you have several options)
Workshop: by Ashley Cornelius.
To prep for this event we talked with local writer and Black Panther enthusiast Michael Ferguson about the importance of this film.
Multiple reasons: When it comes to entertainment in Hollywood, there seems to be a stigma surrounding movies lead by black people, or women. Big budget studios don’t put money behind these movies. So for movies that speak directly to black Americans, we’re left with Tyler Perry movies, or movies about black pain: slavery, gang violence, movies about black people being successful in sports or rap. So Black Panther addresses several of these issues. First, it’s like...the 9th most successful movie ever. Made over a billion dollars. I’m seeing Black Panther paraphernalia everywhere. So there’s the myth that people aren’t going to go see movies lead by black actors. This is the. Blackest. Movie. Ever. Second, as I said, so many movies about the black experience in America focus on black plain. We have no shortage of movies showing us how hard it’s been in, what racism does, what poverty does. Killmonger is a result of that, and they bring it up on the movie, but Wakanda is about black joy. The first time I saw the scene at Warrior Falls, I legit teared up. The screen was full of hundreds of black people, celebrating cultures that were torn from African Americans. It was pure jubilation. Just beautiful. I think it means a lot to black people to see that on screen. We hear about violence and discrimination with breakfast lunch and dinner. For a couple hours we got to see black people be heroes, black women save the day, black women being scientists and warriors. And there was pain, but it wasn’t steeped in systemic issues we face all the time.
Favorite quote from the movie?
Shuri: What are THOOOOOSE!
Don’t scare me like that, colonizer.
M’Baku’s entire “Challenge Day” speech. “I’m kidding we are vegetarians.”
Of course, Killmonger’s final quote, “Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors who jumped from the ships, because they knew death was better than bondage.”
So many lines. I love this movie.
Okoye by far. I knew it would be Okoye when she ran into Black Widow in Civil War and said, “Move, or you will be moved.” She’s fierce, intelligent, and loyal. The best warrior in Wakanda and a sense of humor to boot. Her facial expressions give me life.
Also, she used a wig as a projectile. She’s the best.
What would you say to someone that feels they can’t relate to Black Panther or black super heroes?
I would ask them what part they can’t relate with. Captain America is a man who fights for his ideals no matter the personal cost. Bruce Banner is a person who struggles with controlling his emotions or risk them exploding and destroying relationships. Spiderman wants to make sure fulfills all the obligations he believes is proper of a person with his powers. With any of these, you could extrapolate them to real-world scenarios. Bruce Banner could be an allegory for drug or alcohol abuse. T’Challa is a man who wants to honor his culture and history, but knows that times have changed. He knows that Wakanda has the resources and wealth to make a difference in the world, but when things have been done a certain way, there’s going to be an expectation for that to continue. The entire message behind the movie is Black Panther realizing Wakanda should be more open to the world, to share their knowledge and wealth. T’Challa says, “In times of trouble, the wise build bridges and the foolish build walls.” There’s no race tied to that message. It’s absolutely relevant, in my opinion, in our current political climate. But, there’s nothing black inherent in this message or this struggle. So if somebody says they can’t relate because they’re black, I’d have to suggest they analyze their own inherent biases that they can’t look past the skin color of the cast in order to see, what I believe, are universal truths to humanity in this movie.
What are your thoughts on Killmonger's ideas for helping the black community?
I understand Killmonger’s anger and rage. I think the reason so many people think he’s such a great villain is because, part of him is right. Wakanda absolutely wronged Erik. They killed his father, left him an orphan in Oakland with no way to take care of himself. He grew up with justified rage. And obviously, even T’Challa knew this. T’Challa told all of his anceters, “You were wrong. You should have brought him (Erik) home.” Part of what makes a great villain is that their motivations make sense and are relateable, so, kudos on that.
My problem with Killmonger is how he wanted to kill everybody. What oppression are black people facing in Hong Kong? His actions weren’t in the best interest of black people. He was simply doing as he was taught in his armed forces training. Frodo says he’s doing what he’s trained for. He became king of one of the wealthiest nations in the world, and yeah, they had tons of amazing weapons, but did you see the stacks T’Challa dropped in Korea? They rich as hell there, too. I’d have liked to see him come up with plans that didn’t resort to pretty much just toppling the status quo. Even if it did work, and I don’t think an arms race would have worked, all you’re doing is creating inequality in a different way. Dismantling systemic inequality is absolutely a noble goal, but I don’t think it should be done in a way that just replaces who is at the end of the inequality scale.
So I agree with his grievances, and even his anger at Wakanda. I don’t think he would have helped the black community much in the long run. Would have felt good at first, maybe, but created far more problems the longer his personal vendetta went on. And it was a vendetta. He said he would kill anybody that sided with T’Challa. There wouldn’t have been room in Erik’s world for people who disagreed with him, and we aren’t a monolith.
Discuss women of color's impact in the movie
The women were everything in this movie. Nakia was out there in the beginning showing everybody what Wakanda should be doing. Okoye out there showing T’Challa that you need to be focused, at all times. Shuri literally creating tech Iron Man blushes at. The women in this movie, in my opinion, overshadowed the hero. They were stronger, more interesting, doing the most in their roles, and making me laugh the entire time. None of them, at any point, needed to be saved by a man. Black women were the strongest people in the movie, the most independent, and the most charismatic. They were just like black women in real life.
Why are characters like Shuri important when it comes to women in science?.
It comes back to representation. Growing up, I can count the number of black teachers I had in class on one hand. Going through college, I didn’t have any. I’ve got a degree in literature. I love to write. But when you’re in classrooms full of white people, studying words written by white people, a part of you wonders if this is something you can do. If there is a space for you in this interest. It’s really hard to feel like you belong when you don’t see anybody that looks like you. So a character like Shuri shows black people, but more specifically black girls and women, “Yes, there’s a spot for you here. You’re wanted here and you can excel.” And that’s the type of thing that multiplies and propagates itself over time. The more people that look like us are seen doing a thing, the more we’ll try, and that just increases the rate of success in whatever area it is.
What black comic book character would you like to see on the silver screen.
Miles Morales has a movie coming out, and he’s another one of my favorites. Night Thrasher is probably a lesser known hero. He’s kind of like a Marvel Batman, street level hero who could be cool.
I’d also like to see Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan. She’s not black, but she’s Pakistani, Muslim, and one of Marvel’s most popular characters in comics right now. More diversity, more stories.
Was color-ism addressed in the film?
I don’t think it was addressed in the movie, because for Wakandans, there isn’t really colorism. There’s no tradition of Eurocentric beauty, and so it isn’t even a topic to be brought up. Outside of the movie, yes, absolutely. The fact that there are so many darker skinned men and women in the movie was no accident. It was a conscious decision by Marvel and Ryan Coogler. I’ve even read that everybody had natural hair, tying back into the ideals of Eurocentric beauty. I think it was a very brave, very necessary decision, since darker skinned people are sometimes (often) seen as less attractive than those with fairer skin. The conscious decision to have this type of representation in the movie was a positive for the world.