I’m going to be spicy straight out the gate and say if you’ve seen Black Panther and dare call anything else that anyone likes “white”, then you can suck my dick from the back.
I’m not here to give a critique of the movie and I’m not even here to give you my raving review because we’ve already read thousands of those articles.
But what I am going to say is this: If you played into the Black Panther hype – as you reasonably should – and if you’ve ever told any fellow people of color that what they like is “white”, then actually snack on these nuts.
I think times have changed in a lot of ways, but let me tell a story from when I was growing up.
I’m thirty years old and biracial. I was raised by my parents who are white. When it came time for me to go to school and especially as I went into my teenage years, I was cut apart by my peers into what defined “the black side” and “the white side” of myself as if those things could be pulled out of me and dissected.
On top of that, I was hella geeky. I stanned for anime, superheroes and video games in a time where it wasn’t cool to do that (#hipstercred). Some would say I was “white” for it and that the “whiteness” was glaringly loud as my passion for these things overflowed.
I figured the blowback was always because I was biracial. Because I came from a white family. Turns out, as I got older and my worldview expanded outside of my small, southern town, there were plenty of friends I had who were black, raised by black families, loved nerdy shit and faced the same blowback that I did.
While comics had black characters in them, they were generally looked at as being for a white audience. Given that so many superheroes are, in fact, white, and that a lot of superheroes of color were still written by white writers it’s clear to see why people could think that.
But for me, I never looked at any of the things I liked as being too “white” for me. When I would read comics, I would dream and imagine and recreate myself in that space. I thought of what I would be like as a superhero. What kind of superhero I could be. I saw myself easily fitting into those spaces, but the representation just wasn’t there. That didn’t take away from my enjoyment even though I didn’t expect to see someone that looked like me.
Hell. I couldn’t even find a single Barbie that looked like me so I got used to the feeling.
But in spite of this, I dreamed. Sometimes I dreamed of writing a character for comic books. I dreamed of her looking like me and acting like me. I dreamed of her standing tall in the face of evil and overthrowing the enemy with kick-ass powers, intelligence and an afro that put most blacksploitation films to shame.
And now – finally – Black Panther comes along and people don’t understand the reasons as to why black people are so excited.
It’s because it’s taken THIS long to see black faces in this capacity.
For all the kids seeing Black Panther NOW, that dream is far more achievable than it’s ever been. These kids are going to grow up and some of them very well may make their own heroes. They may become the writers, the creators, the directors. They see that they can and that is powerful.
Black Panther shows that if the space isn’t there, we can – and will – find a way to cut our own path and make something that lets us see ourselves.
Not as anything negative. As something absolutely, undeniably powerful.
Black Panther isn’t just a movie, it’s a symbol that we are here and we are going nowhere. It’s a symbol that we wanted to be superheroes just as much as anyone. For all the times people my age were told ‘you can’t be [character] because you’re black’, Black Panther turned around and slapped that sentiment right out of people’s mouths by saying, “Oh yes the fuck we can AND we’ll do it better than you.”
Black Panther has made it easier to dream. The dream is achievable and it’s the dream-made-reality that we’ve all been waiting for.
Maybe the people who wanted to call what I loved “white” and basically say that something wasn’t for me lost hope of ever seeing something of this magnitude. But I never did.
The blowback against whitewashing is loud and very real. When we get representation, the numbers don’t lie.
So from here on out, instead of critiquing things for being ‘too white’, the better critique should be, ‘Why have I not seen people like me in this space?’ And if you haven’t, pave your fucking way.
And to those who aren’t going to pave the way, don’t be a crab in the bucket to those who are.