The novelist Chimamanda Ngochi Adiche talks about "the danger of a single story" – about Africa, about black brilliance, our humanity and the black experience for too long. There would never be a time when this movie's creation wouldn't mean something to black people in particular, and the inevitable backlash that this movie will receive for its celebration, existence and confidence in blackness will be a reminder that there are no new conversations, merely new opportunities to remind us of who we collectively are. Yet that won't matter because the people this movie will speak most deeply to – a rainbow-coalition cross-section of black comic book readers, African-American movie audiences, Boseman/Jordan/Bassett/N'yongo fans, black-culture connoisseurs and pop-culture nerds – will see something of themselves in this movie. They will also likely be both familiar and resistant to the disdain it will receive for merely existing. Like anything black in America, Black Panther will be politicized for being black, which is to say for being and for announcing itself as a having a right to be here and to be heard.
As a child in school, I rarely reached for the black or brown Crayola crayons in my superhero coloring books; I have a lifetime's worth of Halloweens where I weighed how often I could or should dress as the white superheroes. I couldn't find ones that looked like me both outside of and underneath the mask. An entire generation of children will now know that a black superhero, society, imagination and power can exist right alongside Peter Parker, Steve Rogers and Bruce Wayne. An entire generation of children will not know what it feels like to not see themselves reflected back on costume racks, coloring books or movie screens. We're at a pivotal time where these characters and stories are coming not out of permission or obligation, but necessity.
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