The world is still riding the concussive wave that was unloaded when Black Panther struck the very bedrock of Hollywoods long-held, yet senseless viewpoint on Black cinematic products.
Dating back to Birth of a Nation in 1915, which depicted the KKK as valiant white saviors ravaged by grotesque black men, Hollywood has rarely been interested in producing anything showing black folk in a positive light.
From Tarzan movies to racist Looney Tunes long ago censored, through black-face white minstrel singers and repetitive, demeaning roles as servants, pimps, prostitutes and criminals, Americas minority populous has been disrespected as much as it has been entertained.
It is in this vacuum that “Black Panther” has ventured and exploded like a supernova. Seemingly a million years in the making, Black Panther is on a fast track to being the top-earning comic book movie of all-time, and perhaps one of the top three earning films, ever.
Black athletes all over the world are throwing up the signature Wakandan greeting after making a big play. Even the Portland Trail Blazers’ star guard Damian Lillard was sporting a custom pair of his Dame 4s inspired by the film last night.
These Dame 4 #BlackPanther customs by @MammothNamedJim are fire. @BRKicks
288.2k Likes, 6,480 Comments – Bleacher Report (@bleacherreport) on Instagram: “These Dame 4 #BlackPanther customs by @MammothNamedJim are fire. @BRKicks”
All across the diaspora, the Wakandan flag is being held high. But for every positive reaction, there are opposite reactions.
According to multiple reports, audiences in China were not feeling the overwhelmingly Black cast. Washington Post reporter Mona Eltahawy wrote:
An Egyptian friend, Ramy Wahed, who saw Black Panther in a theater in Cairo told me he overheard a man on the way out complain at the lack of white (read beautiful) actresses in the film.
Egyptians are very racist, Wahed told me. Ive seen it against Sudanese and Nubian friends and against darker-skinned friends whove been treated terribly. Ive seen some people refuse to shake hands with them as if they have leprosy or an infectious disease or something. It really pisses me off.
Indeed, in a world still dealing with the poisonous effects of colonialism, as well as the false concept of white being superior, many of these concepts being perpetrated through film and in television for a century, it is expected that Black Panthers success and Blackness would be repulsive in some quarters.
But $1.18 billion dollars don’t lie. In addition, toy manufacturers are scrambling to bring Black Panther-related toys and merchandise to stores. They lost tens of millions of dollars by not being ahead of the curve. Also, after several Black Panther titles were canceled last year, here come reports of a Dora Milaje comic book.
The culture has embraced Black Panther, most of the world has embraced Black Panther, now even more opportunities are on the way. This is what can happen when Hollywood does the right thing. You get a genius like Ryan Coogler, a stellar cast thats true to the game, a fair budget, and you let the magic happen. In this case, that magic is black.
In the immortal words of the great Wesley Snipes in Passenger 57, always bet on Black.