We’ve just returned from watching Black Panther with our pre-teen son. Partway through it, he exclaimed that he loved it; then at the end he exclaimed again that he loved it, and I exclaimed, “Me, too!” As the credits rolled, he unremarkably whispered to me that he thought it might have been more of a “black movie.” Please read on:
When I jumped in to begin this blog, it was because I felt that I needed to add my voice to a society that is cracked in multiple places and breaking further apart daily. Some people are shouters – and they are effective when the gentler voices are not affecting change. I am somewhere in the middle. So after my son made his observation, I took a slow breath, nodded quietly, and then I said something along the lines of “First, you might be experiencing history right now as 1. I think this is the first superhero movie with an almost entirely black cast, and 2. Blacks have historically been portrayed in American and some other cultures as overly aggressive, angry and violent. This movie didn’t do any of that.” Then I said to him, “let me ask you this: would you consider all of the movies you’ve ever watched with mostly white people “white movies” – pause – “or are they maybe just human movies? In which case, I would challenge you to ask yourself if maybe this isn’t a black movie, but rather, a human movie. Because we are all humans, and different cultures are awesome, and different rituals can be cool, but in the end, we are all human beings.” He nodded and smiled, and said “ok, yeah. Cool.” Because he’s a kid and he wasn’t born with hate and anger in him, so my husband and I are voices to give him a perspective to weigh against whatever malice he might be hearing out in the world. I am not a socialist or a conservative or a democrat or a republican; I am simply a human being who happens to also be American and all I want, really, is to not fear for my children’s lives on a daily basis and to not have my appreciation of being alive shattered every time I look down from looking up at the beautiful sky and warm sun. It is not just love that wins the day; it is also kindness and compassion; patience and understanding; common sense and a not-too-thin skin; and that comes from being human.