By Arlene Jones
I finally got to see the movie Black Panther this past weekend. I, too, give it two thumbs up. Especially because it was the first movie I've seen in a long time that didn't have the obligatory sex scene and the spewing of profanity. In fact, there wasn't any nudity at all. (Note: Spoiler alert from this point forward).
I went out to the southwest suburbs with my group to see the movie. I think there were less than 20 black people in the entire show. The theater was filled nearly to capacity, with the exception of the first two rows that have you seated so you feel you're surrounded by the screen. I was not only reacting to the movie, I was also checking out the audience's reaction. Those in attendance were there to see an action movie and the characters being black was just another aspect of the movie. It was fabulous to see the African-themed storylines being enjoyed for the sake of a good movie and not for any other reason.
There is a scene where M'Baku challenges T'Challa for the role of king. M'Baku is from a splinter group in the African nation of Wakanda who worships the gorillas. In a later scene where Queen Ramonda seeks the help of M'Baku against the villain Killmonger, M'Baku is wearing a cape of gorilla fur and on each arm is more gorilla fur. Contrary to what some who have seen the film multiple times have expressed, the sound M'Baku and his men make is a gorilla grunting and not that of a dog.
I found myself fascinated with M'Baku because of the recent H&M controversy over the hoodie modeled by a young black boy emblazoned with the words "coolest monkey in the jungle." Now I know that racist and ignorant people have often used members of the ape family to attempt to make black people feel inferior. So to see a brother on the continent not only embracing the attributes of an ape but celebrating it, too, was an eye-opener.
I had a very lively conversation on Facebook because I asked the question what was the difference, if any, between the H&M ad and the character M'Baku. The responses I got were interesting to say the least. Both the ad (H&M advertising agency) and the character (Marvel Comics) were created by white people. Yet we look at the ad as an insult but the character is not.
I even had someone post a recent story of a woman in Florida who had a stuffed animal (a monkey) with a noose around its neck and a note attached saying "N-word, go back to Africa." The woman said it was done by her co-workers. The woman is also quoted as saying she was "shocked and hurt" by the incident. I would have responded by getting a white doll's head, taping it to one hand of the monkey and in the other adding the words "Nat Turner." I would have left it on my desk to allow those co-workers to understand that I have comebacks to their behaviors. But what I wouldn't do is publicly give them any credit for hurting my feelings. Because that further emboldens their premise of white supremacy.
Anyway, I digress. Go see Black Panther on the big screen and, for once, look forward to a sequel.
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