If you were online at any point in February this year, you probably heard about the premiere of Marvel’s Black Panther movie. It’s a live action film based on the comic book with the same name about a superhero from the fictional African country, Wakanda.
Black Panther was truly unique. The movie had a black cast who were badass warriors, was based in Africa, and had a black superhero. This combination made the movie truly powerful because there hasn’t been anything like it in mainstream cinema.
Now, I’m not one to get swept up into the hype. Like Issa Rae, I’m always rooting for every black person, but, I’m not into superhero movies and hate following trends. But, social media and thousands of fans across the world showed me on opening weekend that this was more than a fad. This was a movement.
As I logged onto Facebook, I was so surprised and delighted to see black men and women dressing up in African wear, black children wanted to be like T’Challa and Nakia and true black pride surrounded the movie. The more I saw this, the more I realized that this wasn’t just a superhero movie and I wanted to be a part of it.
I had no idea the emotions watching this movie would bring on.
Like many others, I wanted to partake in dressing up for the movie. So, I had to find the most black thing I own. I decided to wear all black, my Black Girl in the CLE t-shirt and a head-wrap for the first time!
I felt powerful in this outfit, but at the same time so confused.
Like many, I never grew up appreciating or even liking the fact that I am black. Going through predominantly white elementary schools always made me the odd person out. I wanted nothing more than to fit in with my peers. In middle school, I moved to a predominately black school. Again, I wanted to fit in with my peers, but I was made fun of for being “too white.”
These two separate experiences really shaped who I am today. I am black, but so many people associate me with being white because of the way I talk and the things I like.
In high school, I started to just embrace the “white” part of me. I tried to change and fit in where I was, but found myself floundering. In a predominately white school again, people complemented the “white” part of my personality. So I went with it.
But, no matter how accepted I was then or am today, at the end of the day, I am black. Nothing can change that. I saw that when boys didn’t want to date me, when I was mocked for where I was from, and people calling me “the whitest black girl they knew” started to bother me more.
Then, came college. I was 18 and still didn’t understand my own blackness. I often felt like I couldn’t even do things deemed “black” like listen to rap music, speak in Ebonics or wear my hair in braids. It was like I had revoked my own black card.
College gave me the opportunity to find black Brittney. I took a lot of black studies classes, watched more stories of death surrounding the black community and cried with them, and I learned more about my history.
I learned about what it means to be black, and for the first time it didn’t include all the stereotypes I had learned and that been forced upon me. I realized then that the way I talk, the music I listen to, and the shows I watch on TV don’t dictate how black I am.
When I dressed up to see Black Panther, it was because I am black. I enjoyed celebrating it, which is something I had never really done publicly.
It felt good. It truly felt good to fully accept who I am. Blank Panther gave me and so many others the chance to do that.
That’s why this movie is a movement. Like me.