The Black Panther, is the first black superhero to show up in American mainstream comics (Marvel Comics, 1966). This is long before Falcon (Marvel Comics, 1969), Green Lantern John Stewart (DC Comics, 1971) or Luke Cage (Marvel Comics, 1972). His solo movie comes out in February 2018. Long story short, it looks like it’s going to be a good movie.
People, are excited. Folks in social media have been frequently talking about what are they wearing or appearing as for this movie. Some people showed off Coming to America characters. Other people stated other powerful black identities, fictional or otherwise. Me? I was thinking of showing up as Black Dynamite. Being that technically I can show up as myself regardless (I am, the Soul Brother #1 of a Kind as is) I really hope folks were serious. I really do want to see everyone, black and proud, show up cosplaying as other black characters or historical (or modern!) figures. The movie — Black Panther — to get the “Star Wars” treatment? With fans left and right cosplaying to the blockbuster weekend!? As a movie buff and anti-racism abolitionist photojournalist, the beauty and love-overload of the scene alone would be so fierce, my soul would force manly tears.
Unfortunately, everyone doesn’t share the same sentiment concerning this movie. Why, you ask? Because of this:
White people, are totally butt-hurt right now. Whiteness, is crying. Why?
A lot of the Whiteness critique comes from the casting call — to them, I suppose, there’s not enough white people in this movie.
The funny thing about a white supremacy is how white people think and emote in regards to media representation: If there’s a movie, or TV show with a black majority, white people will state that they feel not represented well, missing, etc.
Instead of actually, finally understanding what it means to be black in America, white people will remain totally oblivious to black plight and continue to insist that they dominate black spaces.
White people will totally ignore the smoking majority of movies and TV shows being over-saturated by white space and identity, and pathologically demand dominating presence in black space, and most importantly, black identity.
I want to take this opportunity to ask why. Why? American whites for example, do not look at Spanish networks and wonder why folks Are not speaking English, despite the fact there there’s immense animosity towards the Latinx, talking about building irrational walls. American whites, do not see a Bruce Lee, Jet Li, Donnie Yen, Tony Jaa, or Jackie Chan flick and wonder why it’s not a majority white cast, nor do they fervently demand dominance in Asian spaces and identities. Hell, when I watch Hong Kong cinema, I don’t even ask why there’s no black folks. Why do white people, seemingly, only explicitly do this to black spaces and black identities? Of course, I have a few theories.
White people, in short, whether they think they are racist or not, still see us as property. Just as the totality of white society is 100% okay with the murder of Philando Castile via local government white terrorism agents (read: police) who should stand for justice (because they are, bloody cops for Odin’s sake), white people see us — black people — as property still. Technically, in this assessment, we are all runaway slaves, who need to be controlled, captured, and worse, “tamed”, “broken”, or in their words, “domesticated”. Simply put, we are not allowed to have an independent identity devoid of white influence. This is one of the reasons why the Wesley Snipes movie “Blade” didn’t get such a whitelash. For Black Panther 2018, even the director is black (Ryan Coogler) so while Blade was a story told and molded by whites conceptually, this Black Panther movie is even directed by a black person. While it’s great to have black actors representing black characters, the importance of the facilitator being black is parallel to the artistic difference of having a black photographer shooting a black model versus viewing blackness through a white lens.
Overall, white people cannot identify with black characters on film because black characters are, either consciously or subconsciously, devices for building, augmenting, or otherwise supporting white characters. In this sense, black characters to whites are infinitely property of white characters. This is a trope that’s played in spades, for example, War Machine Jim Rhodes is the “black best friend” of Tony Stark, and Falcon is the “black best friend” of Captain America. Technically, these characters only exist to build the main white guy. These type of characters are also quite expendable for plot devices, meaning that they can be killed off or die in order to motivate the white character. This happened to War Machine in Marvel Comics.
White privilege is one hell of a drug. I’ve once said that the construct of America, racially, is a drug to white people. White people I believe, get a persistent high off of how America operates, which is constant, persistent white identity reinforcement. It’s a drug to them.
White people’s group identity is so reinforced through all forms of art and media, it seems baffling to them when they are not the center of the story, center of the universe. White people are so entrenched in white privilege, they cannot wrap the heads around the notion that, perhaps, in this vast world we call Earth… that they are not central to a particular story.
In addition to this, black people in the mind of whiteness, cannot ever be central to their own story. Black people shouldn’t even be allowed to tell their own story, according to how white feelings cry. Once again, I marvel at the fact that white people don’t rant over Hong Kong Cinema as if Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan need to be white. But black characters? Oh my.
Sometimes I wonder what’s the endgame for white people. They only want to see whites, and no one else? Technically comic books were precisely like that. It was a revolutionary act to even draw black bystanders in comic books in the 1960’s. White people stay saying they are not racist, but evidence seems to suggest that they prefer black people out of their sight. Strange, right? Needless to say, when whites say they are not racist, someone’s lying.
We Need More Blockbusters like These
“To see myself reflected back to me does something so powerful.” ~ Lupita Nyong’o
Ultimately, filmmakers need to not fear white tears in regards to such all-black (or majority nonwhite) castings. Due to white people’s systemic discrimination of others, yes, those others will make their own way. When those “others” made their own way, it’s too late for white people to arrogantly demand those whom they oppress and suppress to be “inclusive”. White people: your club of exclusivity created these things.
The truth is, we as black people are not held in equal regard as whites; is that was the case then white people wouldn’t have an issue. Do anyone else find it strange that there’s so many white people who say “they don’t see color” but they, at the same time, have a problem with the casting of movies like Black Panther or Best Man’s Holiday? What about the white woman who praises Wonder Woman, but has an issue with Black Panther? Black men and women can’t have theirs?
Overall, Hollywood needs to stop fearing black people and learn how to love the melanin.