When asked why he was excited about the new Black Panther movie, a young boy on the Ellen DeGeneres show said "it was so amazing to see someone with the same skin tone as me in such a big movie”. That’s so powerful. Star Chadwick Boseman gets emotional about what this movie means to young black kids across the world.
Black Panther tells the story of T’Challa who rises to the throne of the fictitious African country of Wakanda after the death of his father. Wakanda is a country rich with the mineral Vibranium (the same thing Captain America’s shield is made from).
They use it to power their city, in all their weapons and technology and even their clothes. Wakanda is a technologically advanced country, perhaps what Africa could have looked like had it been uncolonised.
The women in this film are phenomenal! From General Okoye (Danai Gurira), master spy Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o) and T’challa’s teenage tech genius sister, Shuri. This film is full of role models for not just boys but also girls to look up to and it’s something I’m very excited for my kids to experience.
What a joy to see a black superhero in a lead role. Not as the sidekick, not as the comic relief but the central hero. Yes, there have been Blade and Luke Cage, but neither of those are suitable for kids to watch.
But Black Panther is just different; it’s pure black excellence and African pride.
Representation is important. Representation for kids even more so. This cannot be stressed enough. Children take visual cues from the world and society and for years the superhero landscape (at least on the big screen) had been very Caucasian. Black Panther represents so much to children of colour.
Someone who looks like you who performs amazing feats and is celebrated is not something these young kids see often on the big screen. I remember the feeling when I discovered Marvel’s first Muslim hijabi superhero, Dust. It was amazing to be recognised and celebrated.
Here are 3 things to discuss with your kids after seeing the Black Panther movie:
1. Diversity and race
Why is it important for superheroes to be diverse? This can be in terms of race, gender and even disabilities. Remember Professor X was in a wheelchair and one of the X-Men’s most powerful mutants. What does diversity mean? How is this different to other superhero movies you’ve seen?
2. The representation of women
In Wakanda, women and men are on equal footing and it’s just normal. It is what it is, and women take up a lot of the roles that would usually be portrayed by males, like T’Challa’s royal guard, the Dora Milaje and his sister being the heads of science and technology. What did you think of this?
3. Global responsibility
Wakanda is a country that’s hidden its true face from the world, posing as a poor third-world country. A central theme throughout the film is whether they should help the world and the downtrodden with their technology, or protect their people and their way of life by hiding from the world.
This is a good debate to have with your kids, exploring the pros and cons of both perspectives.
Have you and your kids seen Black Panther? How did they react? Tell us by emailing to firstname.lastname@example.org and we could publish your letter. Do let us know if you'd like to stay anonymous.
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