I think it’s time that I come clean about something that’s been eating at my soul food for the past, I don’t know, six months.
Dear Black Community,
I do not know jack shit about Black Panther, Wakanda, Makes Me Wanna T’Challa or pretty much anything related to the entire story being turned into a movie that the black community is going to see as if Jesus is going to be at all the theaters all the time. God is good (all the time), and all the time ...
You know how it goes.
WHEW! There! I said it. It’s been on my heart since the trailer for Black Panther dropped last year and my Facebook timeline went crazy and I thought Jay-Z was releasing a new album with Huey Newton excerpts. Turns out it was 4:44 without excerpts, but you catch my drift. I did watch the trailer and I, too, was set adrift on memory bliss of the unbridled blackness and awesome costumes, and I did immediately order three dashikis off of Amazon, which is maybe ironic? I don’t know.
Point is, I’m not going to see this movie because of Black Panther; I’m going to see this movie (probably twice—one with the blacks so I can celebrate and one with the whites so I can hear it) for the same reason that I voted for Barack Obama and why I think Cool Runnings is still one of the most inspirational movies of all time:
I’m rooting for everybody black. Word to Issa Rae.
Now that I’ve shared my confession, let me tell you I feel better. No more faking conversations where I literally can’t tell if we’re talking about people or places. For instance, let’s talk about Wakanda. I honestly had no idea what people were talking about when I heard of this magical place that I’m guessing is right next to Zamunda and wherever Sincere (Nas) and Tionne (T-Boz) were looking to go in Belly. It probably has a Hillman College satellite campus.
Now that I know, though, I’m all in on taking that trip. In my heart, I feel like Wakanda is somewhere between Nigeria and Ghana, which I guess means it would occupy the space where Togo and Benin currently exist? I don’t know, man. Again, Wakanda was just words some of you were saying.
I got to my lack of Black Panther knowledge honestly. I’m not into comic books or comic book storylines. I never have been. When I was younger, I used to collect baseball cards and, minimally, comic books. My uncles introduced me to the hobby and gave me tons of their not-too-valuable items to get my collection started.
I enjoyed reading some of the comic books—Fantastic Four and early Avengers were my favorites—but I was more enthusiastic about my baseball-card collection. I got into the Adventures of Superman series where they introduced the various Superman replacements, including the Man of Steel, John Henry Irons, but I never really kept up like I should have. I only bought comic books when I was in Michigan for the summers to kill time on days when we had nothing to do.
To that end, to say I am even tangentially familiar with Black Panther would be a lie. Apparently he showed up in a Captain America movie that I obviously did not see, either. That’s another thing: I have a fair-to-middling interest in the Marvel Universe, though I love Guardians of the Galaxy. I rarely see the movies—not out of any type of active disinterest or anything, but because life comes at you fast and largely, I’m just not invested in the characters like others seem to be because of my lack of comic book reading. Like, I have no idea who Michael B. Jordan’s character is or Lupita Nyong’o’s or, hell, anybody’s outside of Chadwick Boseman, who I only know is the star because he shows up most in the trailers.
I’ve also not done any research into anything about the characters or storyline. I am going to go see the movie, but anything that I can’t glean from the movie itself will be like obscure Black History Month facts in my life—available but unaccounted for. And that’s OK because I’m going to be all up and through there hopefully cheering at the right moments and applauding any and all blackness. Like, I’m sure there will be some scene that will draw universal applause from all melanated individuals, and I’m looking forward to yelling “Yaaaaaasssss” at the screen a few times while my black fist raises itself with pride.
Which brings me to the fact that while I don’t know much about Black Panther—the movie, the comic, anything—I AM really excited for all the people who do and are super-duper in their feelings of glee and joy surrounding this movie. While I probably won’t fully understand the unbridled euphoria so many others feel until after I see the hot sauce in my bag—swag—I have been swept up by some of it. I almost bought some Black Panther jewelry for more money than I think my household would sign off on, though I did ultimately leave it in the shopping bag. I’m trying to make better decisions these days, and do I really need a claw necklace? No. No, I do not.
So there, I said it. I know everybody (but me, apparently, though some of y’all don’t got to lie, Craig) is an expert in all things Black Panther, possibly vacationing in Wakanda while I head to Atlanta for wings at my favorite wing spot from my youth, but I’m just a guy with some movie tickets looking to be enthralled with some super-black shit with an especially big budget. Even if I never get totally into the Black Panther story and experience, I know that I’ll walk out of the theater blacker than I walk in. And really, what more could you ask for?
See y’all on one of the evenings of opening weekend. And white people, I’ll see you at an EARLY viewing sometime during the week after.