The movie Black Panther was a hit for multiple reasons, one is because Black folks crave to see themselves represented in a positive light doing innovative and meaningful work. When the entire world saw these superheroes, it resonated with the hearts of Black people deeply, because it is what we’ve always known to be true—we are geniuses. We are a complex group of powerful, creative, intelligent, loving, funny, talented, and beautiful people. This movie magnified and played this truth so that we could all bask in the vibranium filled light of Blackness.
Now while the movie could have also used some more diversity, such as differently abled bodied and non-heterosexual characters so that everyone could see themselves, the movie is still WAYYYY more diverse than most, if not all, blockbuster hits. Blackness is at the epicenter as opposed to a stereotypical afterthought, and this goes against the status quo.
Why is this so important? Because Black and non-Black students need to see and experience Black people who are knowledgeable and in positions of power. For Blacks, not seeing themselves represented in a positive light, creates feelings of inferiority and for non-Blacks a sense of superiority. As a result, non-Blacks grow up to believe and perpetuate these stereotypes only to continue this pattern of racial superiority and maintenance of Whiteness as the norm.
Questions to think about:
- Will you give our students what they crave to see? A reflection of the myriads of amazing Blackness that they long for in many schools where Whiteness is reflected in the curriculum, on the walls, in the books, in the policies, and in the practices.
- Where in your school and classroom are Blacks represented as producers of knowledge and not just consumers of it?
- Will you show the true colors of Blackness, or will stereotypes and negative depictions prevail?
- Will you symbolically give our students Black Panther?
How will you reflect Blackness in your school, classroom, and district?