There’s been a lot of hype about the upcoming Black Panther film. The film is set to be released worldwide on February 16,2018. Which is convenient since February is Black History Month right? Anyone who follows my blog knows I have mentioned I grew up reading comic books as a child. I read a lot of DC and Marvel comic books. I used to read Spider Man,Batman,Superman,The Hulk,X Men and The Fantastic Four. Over the years I have collected hundreds of comic books. But I was always fascinated by the black comic book characters. Some of my favorites were Storm,Black Lightning,Steel,Misty Knight and Luke Cage. But my favorite was probably Black Panther. Panther first appeared in Fantastic Four issue #52 back in 1966. That issue of Fantastic Four is selling for $400-$800 on the internet. Although after the Panther film comes out I’m sure the price will skyrocket. I always thought Black Panther was a cool character. Panther’s birth name is T’Challa. T’Challa’s senses and physical attributes have been enhanced to superhuman levels by the heart-shaped herb. T’Challa is a brilliant tactician, strategist, scientist, tracker and a master of all forms of unarmed combat whose unique hybrid fighting style incorporates acrobatics and aspects of animal mimicry. T’Challa being a royal descendent of a warrior race is also a master of armed combat, able to use a variety of weapons but prefers unarmed combat. He is a master planner who always thinks several steps ahead and will go to extreme measures to achieve his goals and protect the fictional kingdom of Wakanda. Wakanda is not a real African country. But it could just as well be Kenya,Nigeria,Tanzania or Ghana. And this is one of my conerns about the film. I have covered great African civilizations on this blog many times. Most of us know about The Mali empire as well as ancient Kemet(Egypt),Ghana and Kingdom of Kush. So why is Hollywood making films about fictional African empires when real ones exist? Of course you know why right?
I will admit that the trailer looks really good. The visuals are nice and it looks to be action packed. I have watched the reaction from many black film goers on the internet. I would say that 85% of the reaction has been positive. And I can see why. Talented actor Chadwick Boseman plays the title character. The cast has some pretty big names. The cast includes Angela Bassett,Forest Whitaker,Danai Gurira,Michael B. Jordan,Lupita Nyongo(my favorite),Daniel Kaluuya and Letitia Wright. It’s a majority black cast. Even the director Ryan Coogler is a black man. So is this a black film? It seems like it. But of course the film is being made by Marvel Studios. Marvel Studios was bought by the Walt Disney Company back in 2009 for 4.24 billion dollars. I did a post in the past about the wicked and racist Disney company. The Disney president and CEO is a white man named Robert Iger. So the Black Panther film is basically a Disney film with a black cast.
I have done many posts on racist Hollywood and their negative stereotypes. Many black people are excited about this film. And it’s because we want to see ourselves in a positive light. We want to see ourselves looking glorious and majestic. We want to see black people as kings and queens on the big screen. Hollywood has given the masses films about Roman empires for years. Films like Ben Hur,Julius Caesar,Spartacus and Gladiator. Not to mention fictional films/tv shows like Lord of The Rings and Game of Thrones. They give us hundreds of films showing them as powerful kings and queens. Then when they want to show African royalty…we get a fictional country?? That is white supremacy at it’s best. The film looks good but I know how Hollywood operates. I will be looking for any type of anti-blackness in this film. And I’m sure there will be some type of black degradation in it. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some interracial love going on . Maybe they’ll slip in some lesbian/homosexual scene. Or possibly showing African traitors in which to instill black people to not trust each other. I could be wrong…but I doubt it.
Wakanda is fictional but the Kingdom of Kush was real. Don’t get me wrong,I have nothing against fictional stories. I grew up enjoying films and television shows like Star Trek and Star Wars. I think they can be fun and entertaining. I just think we have to be mindful who is getting our money when we pay for these films. Black Panther looks like it will be a big blockbuster. And I’m glad the mostly black cast is getting paid. But the white owned Disney/Marvel company will be getting the majority of the money. We will be giving our money right back to racist Hollywood. They are just doing this film to throw black people a bone! But there are many black comic book artists and writers that could use our support. That’s what I’ll address in part two.
The leather whipped prospered. The slavery system prospered. The plantation owner prospered. The prison industrial complex is prospering. The white supremacist police is still prospering. The stolen history is prospering. The shotguns prospered. The raping of black women and children prospered. The lynchings prospered. The plantation owner prospered. The children of the slave owners are still prospering. The white owned media is prospering. Racist Hollywood is prospering.
Growing up I used to always hear this Bible scripture. But is this quote true? I look at all the horrific things that Whites,Jews and Arabs have done to my people. But when I look at history it seems all the weapons our enemies used against us have prospered. And they are still prospering! It’s time for us to wake up from fantasy land and get back to reality!
I almost did it. I selected a theatre and even looked up showtimes. As I began to mentally assemble my outfit and rework my schedule to accommodate viewing the film, I realized that I was all too familiar with this story.
Wonder Woman is yet another page in the consistent white female narrative designed to portray white beauty intertwined with an earthly anglicism. I need not see this film to know that it will portray the white Woman as the catalyst for all things good in a “bad” world.
Contrary to the ideally nurtured in the western world, the bad is seldom blatant. Both the individual and the collective have a fair chance at combatting that which they can see. The true “bad” in the world lies in Wonder Woman-like figures, whose embedded message seeks to uplift through depicting the very exclusivity that dominates the western hemisphere.
Wonder Women debuts in a climate that veils this exclusivity with the implication of “change.” Seemingly every film and television series has adopted the feminist agenda, avidly if not aggressively, feeding this fictive utopia to the masses. The film exists to promote feminism as the cure to all worldly evils, omitting of course that feminism is a worldly evil. Clad in a form-fitting costume with long and silky dark hair, Wonder Woman encompasses the conventional sexiness of a blonde with the rarity of a red head to project feminism as the height of femininity. Wonder Woman is a dark haired, dark- eyed white Woman–the pseudo “every woman” in seeming to encompass lightness and darkness simultaneously. What the casual gaze may fail to see, is that Wonder Woman resembles her target audience, and encompasses all her acquired audience wishes to become. Her dark hair provides a strategic contrast to her fair skin, painting the “Wonder” of wonder woman as encompassing the figurative light to societal conflict or darkness.
The wonder in Wonder Woman is that she embodies the antidote to all the world’s problems. She’s Helen of Troy mixed with Hilary Clinton–a savior to white women but a mortal enemy to the woman of a darker hue.
Western childhood functions similar to this film, painting the white Woman as Wonder Woman in far less attractive variants. From the abundant white female school teachers, to the tooth fairy, Mrs. Claus, every princess from Cinderella to Snow White, the white female body is a consistent figure of humanity to the western gaze. These figures function to embed into the black female psyche what “Superman” and “Batman” seek to implement into the general western psyche–that if you are white, anything is possible.
But as the young girl who reads these stories, attends these schools and watches these figures on television grows up, the fantasy of Wonder Woman vanishes into reality. Instead the harsh world eventually prompts the once naive black body to wonder what was ever wonderful about these pristine figures of their childhood. Although portrayed as the hero in fictive and real scenarios, the white woman is gradually unveiled as an inevitable villain to the black female body.
So, as a black woman, I know this film functions as erasure. I know this film functions to seduce me into a amnesiac state where I falsely separate white female action and intention from white male supremacists. From the white women who chase our black men than scream rape when it goes sour, or objectify our wealthy black men as cash registers, or reduce the quotidian black man to his genitals, to the white women who abrasively target black women at work, back to the very white women who tormented the black female slaves—this movie functions to force the black psyche to accept a white hero, despite centuries of white female villainy.
White heroes, whether male, female, trans, or what have you, are never capable of saving anyone but themselves. For healing is incompatible to the autocrat, who decorates their lives with the blood of the oppressed.
Therefore, the true wonder woman will never occupy a leading role in mainstream film. She probably will never make six figures and is unlikely to rouse a shallow gaze on the street.
The true wonder woman has probably yet to arrive home from her twelve-hour work-day, her twenty-four hour job as a mother, or full- time victim of white supremacy. The true Wonder Woman sleeps at night with a six-figure debt heavy on her conscious from daring to dream outside of the confines of systemic oppression. She walks through a neighborhood of businesses owned by any and everyone but those who look like her. She faces ridicule for her skin tone, her nose, and curvy body and faces countless queries if her beauty or attributes are deemed outside the scope of blackness. The true wonder woman is literally and figuratively raped, never respected, or rewarded. She is frozen in time, pieces of her flesh still floating throughout the Atlantic Ocean, or concealed in an unmarked grave beneath a skyscraper. She is dismembered by a system who uses her limbs to assemble their privilege and writes their laws in her blood.
She is the unspoken gospel of this poached land—the original statue of liberty—the feminine mold to which every race, ethnicity, and creed stealthy covets.
The Wonder Woman film exists to place the “wonder” into the woman concept. As a being excluded from this concept, I replace wonder with “black.” For the black woman does not need wonder, she is wonder. Furthermore, members of the black female collective need not go to the movies to view this fictive wonder woman—they must simply look in the mirror.
Article by CC Saunders
It happened for the first time when I was seventeen.
I was interning for a local politician in Fresh Meadows, Queens. The environment was a predominately white office perched in an affluent neighborhood. My parents were over-protective and would not let me go onto the street and hand out literature, so most of my time was spent handling office duties—and as I would learn, engaging office politics.
One day while inserting data, a young white man rehashed an event that happened at Howard Beach. Rather than give an overview of the event, he decided to recite a racially charged graffiti act verbatim. The epithet read “f*ck all you n*ggers.” After reciting these words, he looked straight into my face, seemingly searching for something that I refused to acknowledge by returning his piercing gaze.
A similar event would occur years later in an interaction with a racial psychopath I mistook for a friend. Similar to my first experience, my pseudo friend expressed outrage in the use of a racial epithet, yet took it upon herself to repeat her uncle’s use of the word n*gger. Like the previous incident, she too stared in my face as she uttered the term, a gaze I saw in my peripheral because I had refused her longing gaze. This same friend would go on to show me her white boyfriend dressed in blackface for Halloween. We have since lost touch, her face dissipated into a grudging appreciation for presenting a necessary evil to awaken my consciousness.
These particular incidents illustrate the antiracist efforts implemented by whites uncomfortable with black presence, working to transfer their discomfort onto the oppressed black body. This transfer is never painless. Rather it reflects the evil deemed necessary to maintain a fictive whiteness. The black body has historically been used a canvass for western anxiety, making the n word a common painting drawn on the black body to appease the demands of a white supremacist hierarchy.
Despite having the opposite effect, these incidents overtly functioned to distance the individual white body from their racist collective– an impossible, and disingenuous feat given the racial climate that defines America. It is this racial climate that predisposes any antiracist effort to inevitably help not hinder white supremacy.
Flash forward to this past semester. The setting is a writing course at a private university in New York City. To introduce a unit on critical queries I play Jadakiss’s “Why?” I am sure to play the clean version because as a black female on a journey to conscious, I have no place for expletives in my life let alone my classroom. Yet despite my efforts, when prompted to respond to a question in the song, a white female student stated “Why N*ggas can’t get no job?” despite the version played in class that stated “Why brothers can’t get no job?”
To which I responded “what did you say?”
She then proceeded to repeat the sentence and epithet. Every student in the class looked down. But, the worst is yet to come. When confronted about her word use she became combative and argumentative. This is the issue with the n word.
Is it an issue that white people use the n word? Yes. But this is not racism. It seems an essential component of oppression to preoccupy the oppressed with branches of racism and not the roots. Take for example the often unpleasant white and foreign businessmen that dominate black communities throughout America. Is it a problem that they are often unpleasant? Yes. Is this racist? No.
It is racist that the white and non-black foreigner monopolizes black economy—taking our money out of our communities. It is racist that the American system is designed to prevent black business ownership. Racism is the systemic action and language seen in the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. It is the societal hierarchy white people observe in every aspect of western culture. Using the n word is yet another means for white people to assume their acquired hierarchy over black bodies. This student used the n word in the classroom of a black female instructor and fought for the right to use a racially offensive term–that’s racism. Bill Maher illustrated a similar dynamic in his use of the n-word Friday evening.
Bill Maher welcomed guest Senator Ben Sasse on his HBO show “Real Time” in which the pair joked about the fields of Nebraska. When invited to “work the fields” by Sasse, Maher responded “I’m a house n*gger” to a reserved laughter from his audience, to which he expressed his gratitude.
Was Maher wrong for using the n word? Yes. But this was far from the first racist comment Maher has made and won’t be the last. It seems his sexual fetish for black Women serves as a means to validate his racial insensitivity to those foolish enough to believe that having sex with blacks makes forgives their racist tendencies. The very house slaves that he references were both products and victims of the white slave masters, and it is this ignored context that composes the core issue here.
The historical trajectory of black bodies in this country is not funny. The means for initial western wealth, who received cyclical disenfranchisement in exchange for centuries of labor, is hardly a laughing matter, at least for those robbed. In using the n word, the white person induces a collective amnesia that when retrieved portrays the retriever as “living in the past” or “playing the race card.”
Blacks have yet to receive reparations or even inclusion into canonical history for providing the greatest sacrifice for this country, so it seems a fractional effort for the western world to retire an epithet used to verbally subjugate the black body.
So why can’t the word be laid to rest?
The answer is simple, it bears too much power.
Many will say that “n*gger” is “just a word” and blacks put “too much emphasis” on this word. But it was never blacks who put too much emphasis on a term foreign to their indigenous tongue. This was never our word, rather the word is conjured from white creation solely to conceptualize black denigration. Yes, it’s an issue that blacks use the word. But until the black collective maintains power in economics, media, employment and housing , they lack the ability to be racist. Furthermore, it is not the black collective who have issues getting over themselves, it is the white collective that expresses difficulty “getting over” their fictive placement on a stolen land.
The abducted African remains the foundation for western wealth, and their significance much like the emaciated and overworked bodies have dissolved into the stolen American soil. Yet instead of sprouting seeds of progress, this soil breeds a continued oppression of black bodies. This oppression is perhaps most evident in the western words implication that colloquial or comedic use of the term “n*gger” symbolizes racial progress.
Thus, in waiting for the term’s retirement, the black collective anticipates the impossible–for the white world to take a small step to relinquish their systemic power. The term was implemented as a means to maintain a position above the black body, and whites continue to use the term publicly for the same reasons. Maher, could have easily, and I’m sure he and the majority of whites do, used the n word off camera. The decision to do so publicly was because he could. Similarly, in my provided examples, each white individual used this racial epithet in a public place, drunk off a systemic white power that conceives every public space as subject to white domination.
The sadistic white mind— historically inebriated off power—assumes the height of racial psychopathy in staring into the black collective and calling them what every stolen opportunity, every stolen dollar, and every drowned, whipped, lynched, burned and raped ancestor symbolizes in past and present America.
Interestingly, this gaze into the black eye, is a central component of my two earlier examples. Notably, both acts seemed centered on not just saying the word to a black person, but staring them in the eye as they did so. I align said behavior with the traditional racial psychopath who looked blacks in the eye as they raped them, who looked as black flesh was chewed by dogs, who watched the life leave a black body during public lynchings. Namely, my mind thinks of the late Claude Neal and the white eyes that watched his flesh be torn from his body and jammed down his throat in a torture murder that lasted several hours. Let us not forget the white gazes that purchased the mutilated portraits of black bodies, and those who purchased black limbs ripped from their bodies in mob attacks.
White desire to induce and see pain illustrates white assemblage as contingent on black dismemberment—substantiating the white collective as what Dr. Bobby Wright labeled a racial psychopath who performs evil with no conscious.
Maher does a similar act in staring down the contemporary pain of the black collective, and mocking the very institution that proved a platform for his lucrative whiteness and conventional success. His ability to stare into the collective gaze of the black collective and use a term that jests the narrative of the abducted African violates the black body in the same manner as a lynching or rape.
Using the n-word is a socially accepted means to verbally assault the black body. The word does not function with the simplicity of an article, or the certainty of a noun. For the “n*gger” is no person, place or thing, it is an action. In a 2007 essay for The Atlantic entitle N*ggerization, Cornel West defines “n*ggerization” as the following:
N*ggerization is neither simply the dishonoring and devaluing of black people nor solely the economic exploitation and political disenfranchisement of them. It is also the wholesale attempt to impede democratization—to turn potential citizens into intimidated, fearful, and helpless subjects.
To use the word “nIgger” is an attempt to “n*ggerize,” to subject the black body to a verbal bludgeoning that ties the contemporary black body to a tree beside the ghosts of their ancestors, bare-backed and anticipating the physical wrath of white supremacy designed to force the black mind to mentally acquiesce to inferiority.
Therefore, it goes without saying that Maher’s apology is as insufficient as it is insincere. It also goes without saying that Maher should lose his job. Although it is doubtful that he was every deserving of such visibility anyhow. Nevertheless, whether fired or not, Maher’s fate will not stop racism. Who knows, Maher may have a clause in his contract that promises a huge payout if fired. He is also at the end of his career, and in addition to being a white man in America, it is guaranteed that Maher will not suffer, because earth is not hell for whites. Thus, it is not his job that the conscious community desires Maher to lose, it is his privilege.
Will the heat of hell change the setting? No, just as firing Maher will not end black suffering. If Maher does get fired the firing will function to imply that the world has “come a long way,” despite occurring in a world where Bill O’Reilly can get fired for “sexual misconduct” but cops are not fired for murdering black men, women or children.
It will also serve as the foregrounds for firing blacks who saying things like “white people,” “pass the crackers” or even “white privilege.” As an oppressed group, we must be sure not to misconstrue what appears to be an opportunity for progress for what it is—an opportunity. Nothing in America has been said or done for the sole purpose of helping blacks, and America proceeds cyclically not linear.
Welfare, affirmative action, diversity initiatives, financial aid, etc all function to aid whites, despite seeming to provide opportunities to the disenfranchised. Moreover, in accordance with the historical trajectory of a country established on the spilled blood of those labeled “other,” the white world will find a way to turn n-word, a source of collective black pain, into a gain for whites.
Article by CC Saunders