We Need to Start Barking at White People Who Speak Out of Turn

Winston Duke as M’baku in Black Panther (Marvel)
Winston Duke as M’baku in Black Panther (Marvel)

Editor’s note: This story contains spoilers for the film Black Panther.

Black Panther’s Wakanda is a near-utopic vision of how a country could look; perhaps the best depiction of Afrofuturism ever captured on film. There were thriving and ideologically diverse cities surrounded by expansive and bucolic countrysides. There was modern technology perfectly weaved into cultural tradition, a melding that was symbiotic instead of antagonistic. And while I didn’t see this happening during the movie, I’m sure Wakanda has amazing bottomless brunches.


Unfortunately, a present-day attempt to re-create Wakanda would be unrealistic. Mainly because we’re roughly 20,000 years behind Wakandan tech. And mostly because we’re too infected with colonization and its myriad residues and peripheral effects. Also, we’re a little short on vibranium.

One thing, however, that we can and definitely should start doing is what M’Baku and his Que Dog Jabari tribe did when encountering a problematic white dude who was speaking when there was no ask or need or purpose for the thoughts and opinions of problematic white dudes.


Not a purposeless bark. This isn’t a shih tzu barking through the window at a squirrel. Instead, this would be an intentional bark. A targeted bark. An overpowering bark. A drowning bark. A Wakandan bark. A bark meant to communicate, “Um, who told you that you can speak? When it is time for your words, we will let you know. And maybe that time will never come. We’ll see. Now, just shut up and stand there. Maybe get on your phone and Google ‘How not to be a colonizer.’ Whatever you do, I want to hear you not speaking.”

The bark doesn’t just have to be a counter for useless words, either. A wayward white hand reaches for your hair? WOOF! WOOF! WOOF! A group of white people huddled on a sidewalk refuse to step aside when you attempt to walk past them? WOOF! WOOF! WOOF! A purse is clutched when you walk on an elevator? WOOF! WOOF! WOOF! (If they’re going to act scared, you might as well give them a reason to be.)

Of course, this barking will take some practice. They can’t be small-dog barks, so people with higher and/or softer voices will probably have to do some training. Which is why, today, I’m announcing the opening of the M’Baku School of Wakandan White Silencing. The classes will be free, so no worries about me using GoFundMe monies for Bigen and creatine.


(Sidenote: Also, the bark was actually an ape grunt. But it sounded like a bark and his mama named it a bark, so we gonna call it a bark.)

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)



M’Baku and the Jabari Tribe are Alphas:

They have apes carved all around their kingdom

They are vegetarians

They live where it’s ice cold

That was an ape grunt not a dog bark

Folks equating the muscles and the “barking” with the Ques and they are missing the blatant clues right in front of them.

I’ll agree it was epic; especially when he said he feed him to his children. That look and the white sweat that followed was everything.