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Image: Marvel Studios

… that’s certainly the hopeful message we’re left with at the end of the epochal film Black Panther. But I think it’s worth some deeper thought.

I finally watched, and thankfully loved, Black Panther this week. I was willfully swept up in all the magic and hype of the film. Was it perfect? No. Did it need to be perfect for me to enjoy it? No. As Trevor Noah put it, it was a great film — period — it was just extra special for much of the Black audience.

There is much to unpack in the film, and frankly, many people far more eloquent and informed than I are doing just that. But what I couldn’t resist, was the opportunity to think out loud about the possibilities for Black liberation both imagined and missed through the film.

As a person of Ethiopian descent, born and raised in North America, I was touched and inspired by the way that the film connected the histories and struggles of Black people both on the Continent and throughout the world. Equally important is the way that we can see the complexities and cleavages within these communities, which is most poignantly explored through the storyline of Erik Kilmonger (everyone’s favourite anti-villain).

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Image: Marvel Studios

Through Erik, the film explores how colonization, slavery, migration, and geopolitical forces differentiate, and often alienate, global Black populations from each other. This was an important balance to the pan-Africanist themes, because a Pollyanna-esque ‘we’re all the same people’ would have been far less interesting and intellectually useful in my opinion. Read the rest of this entry »

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Africa is not an NGO

January 15, 2012

I recently read a piece in the Huffington Post titled Africa Not Fit For Print; The ‘Light’ Side Of The ‘Dark’ Continent. The piece is intended to be a progressive perspective on Africa, arguing that global media need to showcase the “lighter, more promising side of the proverbially mismanaged ‘dark continent.’”

While the overall sentiment of the author was appreciated, I couldn’t help but find myself annoyed. First, that it is 2012 and we are still making reference to 19th century colonial adjectives for Africa. [pssst…we can still see the words even if you put them in quotes!] But more than this, I found myself frustrated by the following quote:

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