Black Panther: Pan African Superhero?

Black Panther...jpg

One of the problems with Black superheroes in Marvel and DC comics is that they may look Black, but very rarely do they reflect the experiences and struggles of Black people. This was a point that was made Kenneth Ghee who explained in Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation that: “Historically in comic books and movies, the Black superhero operates in a totally Eurocentric (White) context; no Black family, no Black lover, no connection to community or culture…For him (and for us and our children) there is no Black consciousness or Black cause, only a generalized ‘humanitarian’ supportive role from a Eurocentric worldview and perspective.” Given that the Black Panther movie is set to be released next month, I would like to point out that one of the unique things about the Black Panther is that he is one Black superhero who has to confront many of the problems that Black people confront daily. The Black Panther doesn’t just live in Africa, he also lives many of the real problems that Africa has faced and continues to face. Black Panther comics are filled with themes of Western imperialism, colonialism, and neo-colonialism in Africa. These themes are especially prominent in the six episode cartoon series which was an adoption of Reginald Hudlin’s run of the comics.
In the comics Wakanda is the most technologically advanced country in the world because the people of Wakanda are able to utilize their country’s resources for their own benefit. Wakanda was the only African country never to be colonized or conquered, so it did not suffer through the ravages of the slave trade and colonialism which disrupted Africa’s development and, as Walter Rodney explained, underdeveloped Africa. Some have defended colonialism by arguing that colonization was a benefit to Africa because it introduced European technology, but this was not entirely the case. The technology that was introduced was utilized in the service of European domination in Africa. The vast majority of colonized Africans were exploited and impoverished, and they did not benefit from European technology in any significant way.

Ethiopia was able to fend off the Italian invasion and under Menelik II’s rule Ethiopia made many technological advances, including establishing a railway, a postal service, and the country’s first hospital. This was because without European domination Ethiopia was free to adopt European technology and apply it in ways that were beneficial to their country, but the other colonized African nations did not have this benefit. Whereas Menelik was able to establish a hospital, in many colonies Africans were malnourished and given inadequate medical care. In Mozambique the Portuguese failed to train a single African doctor and Guinea-Bissau was even more neglected by the Portuguese colonialists than Mozambique was. Julius Nyerere, the first president of Tanzania, once explained that by the time Tanzania gained its independence the country only had 12 doctors. Wakanda presents us with a glimpse of where Africa could have been had it not been for colonialism, as well as a glimpse of where Africa could very well be with the proper leadership.
Comic book superheroes are typically people who decide to become superheroes due to personal tragedy or by obtaining superheroes, but the Black Panther is unique in that he has inherited his role as a superhero. T’Challa comes from a long dynasty of Black Panthers that have protected Wakanda for thousands of years. The Black Panther does fight the typical super villains that are found in comics, but what makes this character unique for people of African descent is that the Black Panther also fights a threat that Africans had to fight in real life, which is European colonization. For example, one story in Hudlin’s run depicts one of T’Challa’s ancestors defending his nation against an assault led by a European settler known as Klaue. In the story Klaue is a soldier who fought military campaigns in South Africa and has nothing but contempt for Africans, whom he views as uncivilized savages.

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T’Challa’s own story is rooted in Africa’s struggle against neo-colonial forces. T’Challa’s father, T’Chaka, was murdered for refusing to give up Wakanda’s most valuable resource, which is a fictional metal known as vibranium. In Hudlin’s retelling of the story, T’Chaka’s assassination was part of a plot that was carried out by various Western countries that were unable to talk T’Chaka into giving them his country’s resources. When they realized that T’Chaka could not be bought off, their next option was to simply kill him. This brings to mind the assassinations of Patrice Lumumba, Thomas Sankara, and other African leaders who were killed or overthrown by Western countries for refusing to serve the interests of those countries. T’Challa ascends to the throne and has to remain cautious about the fact that the very governments that assassinated his father would be plotting to do the same to him.
Aside from the Western governments that seek to undermine Wakanda to exploit its wealth, the Black Panther also has to confront African dictators such as M’Butu, who is one of the antagonists in the cartoon series. M’Butu is the dictator of a nation that borders Wakanda and he is depicted as being the opposite of T’Challa. M’Butu is greedy, self-serving, and is easily paid off like many of the dictators that continue to rule Africa today. M’Butu is also a close American ally and even agrees to participate in a plot to overthrow the Black Panther. Black Panther not only fights to protect his nation against European invaders, but against African traitors as well.
I am not sure how deeply the movie will delve into these themes. The anti-colonialist message found in the cartoon series and some of the comics was toned down when the Black Panther was introduced in Captain American: Civil War. In that movie T’Chaka’s assassination was part of a plot to frame the Winter Soldier rather than being an assassination that was carried out because T’Chaka refused to give up his country’s resources. Even if the anti-colonialist message is toned down, I still think the significance of the Black Panther movie is that it’s a movie that will challenge some of the ways Africa and African people are typically depicted in the mainstream media. It is also significant in that it has a message that is relevant to all people of African descent. For African Americans and others in the diaspora it is a reminder that there is more to our history that slavery, and for those on the African continent it is a reminder of the great potential that Africa has.

Article by Dwayne Omowale

79 thoughts on “Black Panther: Pan African Superhero?

  1. Kushite what I don’t understand is this. If whites are so much superior to blacks, why couldn’t they create their own resources instead of coming to Africa to steal resources. Arsenio Hall would say Hmmmmmmm GOD BLESS

  2. I heard the King of Wakanda teams up with a white agent to fight another African. Maybe this is why this movie was allowed on the big screen (white savior/ally).

      • @ Amos
        Yeah I saw Panther got a 98% rating on the popular website Rotten Tomatoes. It’s rare a film gets that high of a rating. But I noticed on the site all these white critics love it. Anytime I see whites approving of a mostly black cast…I know it’s not a good sign. I guess they don’t mind seeing a rich and powerful Africa in a fictional context. But they don’t want to see a powerful Africa in real life. Europeans have been raping and stealing Africa’s resources for many years. That’s why they feel so comfortable watching a film like this.

    • Well I heard he has a white mentor. I mentioned that in the previous post. But we shouldn’t be surprised. We have seen this time and time again. I’m sure once the film is released we’ll find more details about the storyline. But it looks really well done. Which is why many of us will miss the subliminal messages. They blind you with beautiful scenery and special effects. They really are wizards in Hollywood.

      • True Word! Maa Kheru brethren! But lets hope the white mentor does not exert too much influence on the character. Thinking of which, many do not realise that Steve Bantu Biko also had a white mentor of sorts, a pastor at that, but the man outgrew the Christian foundations in order to self define. Haile Selassie I too whom many of us revere as a Divine Being, also was schooled by missionaries etc carefully selected by His Father Makonnen …but as we all know, the King soon learned that whites are not always our friends …though this tempers the leaders hand towards Europeans, as they become more Humanist rather than strictly pro-Black, it is clear that HIM’s Pan Afrikanist work is still commendable.

      • LOL wizards indeed. It’s crazy, the lengths they’ll go to make themselves appear superior and holy and decent. I’m sure it’ll be a great film, but you know they had to slide in their lil .02 of greatness.

      • That’s so true Kelley. After years on showing degrading images of black people now they decide to give us a superhero. That sounds a bit odd to me. But of course it’s always on their terms. They control the narrative of our heroes. I’m sure it’ll be a big hit. And all the black actors in it are very talented. I just wish it was a character created by us. I’m tired of accepting their crumbs. And the sad part about it is black people get super excited. It’s almost like we want to see black power in a fantasy film…but don’t want real black power in life. A lot of us don’t want to be free. We want freedom without putting in the hard work. Too many of us love this racist oppressive system.

      • You’re right. Absolutely. I saw a post on what we could do collectively if we used our Black Panther movie ticket money on one community or project. That’d be a major wave. And what’s sad is that many of us are ignorant to the plights, but I think even more of us are aware of the plights yet choose to turn the other cheek and enjoy the fantasy.

      • Sadly the majority of are not aware of how deep the system goes. They can only focus on mass incarceration because they recently read The New Jim Crow.

        Another person is moved by misrepresentation in the media so they work on that.

        Another person is moved by Eric Garners murder, so they focus on police brutality. All these little problems occupy our time so we can’t focus on the overall problem > the existince of black people in white space or white people in black space

      • By the way,did you hear about the petition? There’s a petition going around to give a portion of the proceeds to the black community. It sounds kind of silly to me. It’s not even made by black people. It’s owned by Marvel and Disney. I understand the sentiment but it’s not realistic. It’s a white-owned brand. Why can’t some people grasp this concept?lol

      • I should have read this comment 1st! LOL but no, I haven’t heard of this petition. We should definitely use the money for a community facelift or something instead of blowing up the box office.

      • Right. If nothing else, I hope we see the power of our collective dollar more and more. Have you heard what’s happened to h&m? We have the power, we’re just using it incorrectly or not enough.

      • Well Kushite, The reason why The Black Panther didn’t get a perfect score because a white critic from Ireland gave it a 3 out of 5, because T’Challa didn’t fight enough bad guys. Wow Kushite, that critic had to dig deep down for that negative review. GOD BLESS

      • Well again, The Black Panther to my knowledge never had a white mentor in the comics & certainly didn’t have a white mentor in the animated series which only had 6 episodes. But like Roots & The Haitian Revolution movie, since it’s going to the masses , the white sympathizer or hero has to make entrance. GOD BLESS

  3. Tua Neter!!! Thanks for sharing this, it really is a game changer this film and we look skyward to viewing it and sharing it with our children. There are many more Black stories and authors working in this field and we hope that this opens up the platform for more of our Images to be appreciated by the world.

  4. Kushite, we as blacks have to be Proactive, instead of reactionary. The Black Panther is going to make a lot of money. We need writers & producers to pitch a continued version of the animated series, including a animated movie to the Networks, but with more say so. Yes I saw the petition on twitter & I agree. Make the animated series Prime-Time & use some of that money to rebuild our communities. We have to do this, because if whites come up with this & they have, we will be reduced to being reactionary. Let’s get to work. GOD BLESS

  5. Before I forget, Kushite there was a disrespect to 3 black women in Kansas City at a Applebee’s restaurant, so there is a boycott of Applebee’s restaurants until further notice. GOD BLESS

  6. Kushite the mother of that black kid of HM campaign really she needs an exorcism because she is really coon and self-hatred person! His parents are both African,the problem have with his mother,she defended HM says that “it wasn’t racist and people who were defended her son should get over!”
    How could she say such things?Defend enemies who degraded her son? Really she lost her mind? For centuries wp have called black people monkey! Where she has been in last years?
    I am glad that fortunately people spook out and boycott HM and they aren’t Coon like her!

  7. Kushite did you see the Nefertiti images? They want to say that Queen Nefertiti was a tan WW with light eyes! Because these people are disillusion to the root they can’t really face and they hate the reality! Really? When I saw that image I was laughing so hard at that buffoonery!
    They really believe that Egypt is in Europe and isn’t Africa country! If you ask them,they will tell you “Yes!” Because this is their mentality!
    kUSHTE today BBC has threw a bomb that I don’t think that British people will have nice dream tonight!
    They said that Cheddar Man was the first Briton with dark skin and blue eyes!
    I am not really surprise about that! I am just waiting for the next coming bomb news!

    • Yes I saw it on social media last week. I’m working on a post as we speak. It really is laughable. American and British news spread lies all damn day! They love rewriting history for their own benefit. The agenda is REAL!!!

  8. I’m not really caring for this movie “Black Panther” nor all the publicity black people are giving it. You have black people planning on wearing dashiki’s & other African garments to the movie. Black people have set up gofundme & other fundraisers pagers for the movie “Black Panther” to allow black children to see it for free. Then we have black people saying that some of the money that is made off the movie “Black Panther” should go into the black communities. Also whose really going to benefit from this movie the most profit wise are white people. Again the black dollar is leaving the hands of black people an going into the hands of white people. Here’s a photo of the director Ryan Coogler of the movie “The Black Panthers” with his partner. He directed the movie ‘Fruitvale Station at the age of 29, “Creed” at the age 29, now “Black Panthers” at the age of 31. All three of his movies he has directed starts the actor Michael B Jordan in them. An all three of these movies have gotten mainstream attention as well.

    • Yes I’ve seen Coogler’s wife before. Her name is Zinzi Evans. I saw on a blog a few years ago that she’s biracial. I believe she’s half Filipino. I think this film will be really huge. I think it will make over $400 million easily. It will make millions for Marvel and Disney. I have mixed emotions about giving money to the black community. We should just create our own comic book characters so we get the bulk of the money. Black Panther is a big mainstream white-owned character. So it’ hard for black creators to get the same success as white owned companies like Marvel and DC comics. If a white man creates a black character then white people will support it. But a black owned and created character doesn’t get the same support. We as black people have to support our own. That’s my only gripe about the film. Panther is not owned by US. I want black children to see themselves as heroes and sheroes. But I want us to own all the copyrights. That is REAL Black Power! Not this fake fantasy black power the media is giving us. As a matter of fake there’s a meme going around about “Make Wakanda Great Again” It seems some white folks in the alt-right think the ideologies of the Panther are a good They say the Panther is anti-immigration,anti-refugee,black nationalist and for strict trade restrictions. Here’s the meme:

      • Kushite, I agree that we should create our own comic book heroes. I will see the movie, more to support the cast than Marvel & Disney. I say enjoy, but do not lose focus on supporting the cast. I read on Black twitter, that The Black Panther is fighting Evil with the help of Everett Ross a white CIA agent, just remember Black Family : The same CIA that still brings drugs into our communities while never being arrested while our people get harsh maximum prison sentences for non-violent crimes. GOD BLESS

  9. Here’s an article that “Time” magazine did on the movie. The title of the article is “The Revolutionary Power of Black Panther.”

    I also question why do the “Black Panther” whose a black man have black female bodyguards & soldiers to protect him, shouldn’t that be a mans job to go too war. I haven’t seen a white male superhero’s needing a white female bodyguards & soldiers to protect him. It usually be the white male superhero protecting the black female.

    • Well I’ve heard some black women say it’s good to see black women play tough roles. I do think it’s great to see black women play different roles. Hopefully the film shows the Black Panther falling in love as well. There needs to be a balance though. But lately Hollywood has had many women playing the “tough girl” role. Many white women like Angelina Jolie,Demi Moore and Charlize Theron,Lind Hamilton and Jennifer Lawrence have all played traditionally male roles. I think a lot of it is to have the gender roles reversed. They want to create a society of feminine men and masculine women. That’s why they promote homosexuals and transgenders so much in the media. Also I’ve heard some people complain that the bodyguards in Black Panther plays into the stereotype of dark-skinned women being tough and masculine. As though dark skinned women can’t be soft and feminine. That is a lie of course. But hopefully Lupita Nyongo shows us a softer side to black women. But there will always be lies and deception with all things Hollywood. It’s a fantasy world. And we have to keep that in mind. Don’t be fooled by the scenery,action scenes and cool special effects. They always have an agenda when making big motion pictures. I haven’t been wrong……..yet.

  10. I’m with you on this @ the Prince. Anytime I see white “approval” in green-lighting a film with a mostly all black cast? My red flags go up! Besides minimizing the achievements of blacks, the ulterior motive of the sub-humans are the $$$$ that they will be collecting. So the “reality” of Africa with it’s great resources will be short-lived and seen as a shit-hole.” Besides, whites cannot “envision” black super-heroes in the manner that our people can. Not buying it and definitely NOT going to see this film.

  11. Kushite what I have learned is that we need to study Black History everyday not just during Black History Month. Dr. Jane Wright a black woman that created Chemotherapy to fight cancer. Even though I don’t drink, it was a black man who created the liquor Jack Daniels. You see we create the entity, but white people own The Patents. The Patents is where the real money is made. So Black Family don’t just don’t create the product, own The Patent. I encourage all of us to visit Black Museums which has a lot of information that you won’t see in any history book. GOD BLESS

      • Here’s another for you Kushite. In 1971 a black man Henry T. Sampson invented the gamma-electric cell. That cell is what is needed to have a cell phone. Mr.Sampson was the first African -American to earn a PhD in Nuclear Engineering, so Mr. Henry Sampson I thank you, because if it wasn’t for you, your people could not share this great information we have about ourselves. Kushite you know me, when I come up on information, I’m always to share with the Black Family GOD BLESS

  12. Kushite, here’s some news for you. I don’t know if you know this, but as of January of this year, Essence Magazine is 100% Black owned. It was bought by Richelieu Dennis, a native of Liberia, who owns Shea Moisture a black hair care product. It’s time to for us to but Ebony & BET & control our narratives. GOD BLESS

  13. I just happened upon this post after an extended hiatus from the black blogosphere. Now I’m a strictly DC fan but the only thing I could tolerate from Marvel is X-Men and more particularly my focus was mainly on the character of Storm and given the fact that she’s Black Panther’s wife in many of the comic’s crossovers. I’ve also been a fan of black panther for years although, I hate seeing him as part of the Avengers. The second thing I’d like to point out is DC has released a new show on Netflix called Black Lightning based on the DC character. The show stars Cress Williams as the shows main protagonist Jefferson Pierce aka Black Lightning There’s also Chyna Anne McClain who plays youngest daughter Jennifer and Nafessa Williams who plays eldest daughter Anissa who happens to be a lesbian. Jefferson pierce is divorced but has an amicable relationship with his ex-wife Lynn played by Christine Adams with whom he has intentions of reconciling with. Now here’s the kicker. Black Lightning has a white mentor whom he sees as a “father figure” Peter Gambi, played by James Remar who basically makes his costume. Now unlike alot of mainstream black superheroes Black Lightning basically lives the black experience or at the very least many aspects of it. Black Lightning or Jefferson Pierce is the principal of the predominantly black Freeland High School located in the crime infested inner city of Freeland. The main antagonist is Tobias played by rapper Krondon and the still in seclusion Lady Eve played by Jill Scott. There was also the character of Latavius better known by his street name “La-la” who was a former studentof Freeland High now turned a gangbanger. For years Jefferson has had an understanding with the gang known as the 100 led by Tobias and the front man “La-la”. The school and its students are off limits whereas the gang is free to rampage on the streets. It wasn’t until his daughters Jennifer and Anissa were taken hostage by the 100 that Jefferson decided to come out of hiding and resume the role of Black Lightning. Now this show touches on many aspects of the black experience in regards to issues of racism, racial profiling, drugs, black on black crime as well as the realization that religious leadership has proven ineffective in solving Freeland’s crime problem. There’s so much I could say on the subject which I think I may do a blog post on but I wanted to hear your thoughts on the subject of Black Lightning.

  14. So I just saw this film, I had read this thread a few days ago but wanted to hold from speaking until I had seen it.

    As of now I can say I thought the film was good, as a film.

    As for the message it gives us it’s whack. Even Killmonger who is “the people’s champion” misrepresents us. What do you think, KP?

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