Representation Matters: Why I Loved “Black Panther”
Representation matters, because pervasive images and stereotypical depictions can truly affect your self-worth. Representation matters, because Black children need superheroes that look like them too. After all, being a superhero shouldn't depend on one’s sex or ethnicity. Representation matters, because it’s absolutely empowering to identify and be recognized as royalty, as opposed to being repeatedly conveyed as a degenerate or a criminal.
Representation matters, because it changes the narration and framing of a story. Who tells the story impacts what is told and Black people need the opportunity to narrate their own stories. Representation matters, and I feel emboldened by seeing my beautiful Black men and Black women as Kings and Queens, for a change. I’m tired of seeing us as slaves, and in 2018, there are a wealth of stories that could be told that don’t revolve around slavery.
Representation matters because I love and need to see Black women with scientific and technological knowledge, inventing meaningful tools and overachieving in the STEM space. This will always be preferred to seeing them consistently relegated to playing someone’s maid, promiscuous sexual toy, or an unattractive mother figure. It is also imperative to represent the Black man choosing a Black queen, rather than a broken home or a narrative where the Black woman is being disrespected, maligned or depicting a gross stereotype. Furthermore, it matters that we see a strong version of a Black woman honoring the role of a man in her life, as opposed to her being part of a narrative that continues to promote disenfranchising, belittling and stripping a Black man of his power.
Representation matters, because it brings people together, whose identity and culture have long been maligned and assaulted when portrayed in television and film. It matters that there is a positive representation of African and black culture that people can celebrate and align themselves with. Television and film is a world of make believe, we should demand to see black culture as well as other minorities depicted as fully formed characters with agency and purpose.
Yes, there are things we can critique about Black Panther and the representation of the fictitious country of Wakanda. Perfection never exists in anything and “Black Panther” is not the exception, but rather than focusing on picking the movie apart, I have chosen to recognize the powerful impact the movie has made in establishing once again, why representation matters.
Have you seen the movie yet? Leave a comment with your opinion.
Love x Light