Yes, Black Panther is killing it at the box office. The movie only confirms what some of us has known for years, that we are some dope ass people! It’s nice to see that displayed on the big screen for a change. All of the characters in Black Panther were well thought out and developed. However, there was one character, Erik Killmonger the villain, played brilliantly by Jordan B. Johnson, that really stuck with me. After leaving the theater his last words “Nah, bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships. Because they knew death was better than bondage”, lingered in my mind for quite a while.
His role, I would argue is both brilliant and complex. For some, Black Panther is just a movie, which is true. However, the complex issues regarding, race, culture, advancement, poverty, abandonment, resources, authority, headship, kingship, queenship, leadership, and colonization, are still very real and relevant topics impacting both African and African-American people.
When Killmonger mentioned how he was left and why Wakanda wasn’t using its resources to help many others, I waited with angst to hear the response! I felt what he was asking, because knowing that our ancestors were brought here forcefully and subsequently left here to fend for themselves in the brutal land of America and no one from Africa came to see about them-has left me with many questions? Generations later, they were encouraged to go back, but why didn’t anyone come see about them -now us? If we did go back, how would we know who we belonged too? Our ancestors were stripped of their identity. For some of us, our knowledge stops at the boarders of the US.
I believe that some black Americans are in a serious state of mental decline and behave as they do because they are unaware of their history of royalty, dominance, brilliance, and inferiority. They lack a firm understanding of their beginnings. The effects of colonization have become some severe. That’s why I admired the fact that Killmonger’s father, Njobu, played by Sterling K. Brown, taught him his history and ensured that he would be accepted entry if he ever returned home.
Killmonger represents the future. Where black people are pissed off enough to actually want to do something radical to change how people see and respect us. For Killmonger, it wasn’t about saving the world, but instead about saving and elevating his people that were forgotten. It was about challenging the old guard and the old ways of thinking. It was about the sharing of resources, knowledge and wealth to elevate every Wakandian at home and abroad.
Killmonger also made me think about the bourgeoisie black people of society. Who gather wealth and resources and hoard them caring nothing about their sisters and brothers because ‘they got theirs”. Ascending to great heights within the country, but only look out for their kind, ie family and friends, instead of making moves that could truly elevate a great segment of their people.
While Wakanda is fictional, buying up city blocks, establishing black tech hubs, respecting and honoring black women, occupying large seats at all levels of government, owning fortune 100 companies, and protecting our youth is not!
May there be a little bit of Killmonger in each of us! #WakandaForever