Wakanda Isn't Real
Today is March 5, 2018. The Monday after Black History Month (BHM) has passed. Another one has come and gone, and this month, in particular, is one that I want to speak on.
WARNING: I am about to be that guy.
As I sat in my house the other day thinking about BHM and what it meant for me this year, a couple of thoughts crossed my mind. BHM is a time where we, as a culture, take time to remember people of color who have made strides in America. Interestingly enough, this year had nothing to do with that. Black people came out in droves to celebrate a fictional black character, and it seemed that with all that hype that we forgot to celebrate those who paved the way for us to be able to enjoy something such as this. To be fair, I thought “Black Panther” was great. It’s not my favorite Marvel movie to date, but it was still really good. I also thought it was cool that a young, black director made the movie. Those are all things to be celebrated. However, without Sydney Poitier and Harry Belafonte, there is no Chadwick Boseman to celebrate, or Michael B. Jordan to lust after. They simply don’t exist. And I personally don’t think it fair that we as a culture failed to mention them. People everywhere are saying that this film gives their children “heroes” to look up to when there are black men and women that they can look up to now, and these were there before this movie. You don’t think so? Here is just a couple: Malcolm X, MLK Jr., Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, Ruby Bridges, Angela Davis, Harriet Tubman, Nelson Mandela, Daisy Bates, Frederick Douglas, Hank Aaron, Jackie Robinson, Jim Brown, Langston Hughes, Zora Neal Hurston, James Baldwin, Josephine Baker, Mary McCloud Bethune, Muhammad Ali, Nikki Giovanni, Nina Simone. I could go on about countless others who earned the title of hero in real life, not on a comic strip. With that in mind, what many don’t even realize is that the comic was created in 1966 as a part of the Marvel universe. The comic has nothing to do with the Black Panther party, it’s just a name given to a character (Black Leopard just didn’t work). So before we worship this fictional character, let’s give respect to those who actually enacted on heroism in their lifetime(s). Maybe give some respect to Huey Newton and the real Black Panthers for giving back to their community for years before the FBI and LAPD came in and began to murder them. Question: Do you know that 10-point program is? I do. I will tell you. It was a list of items that the Black Panthers wanted from their local community government in response to what was happening around them. Those 10 points were: We want freedom. We want the power to determine the destiny of our Black Community. We want full employment for our people. We want an end to the robbery by the Capitalists of our Black Community We want decent housing, fit for shelter of human beings. We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present day society. We want all Black men to be exempt from military service. We want an immediate end to POLICE BRUTALITY and MURDER of Black people. We want freedom for all Black men held in federal, state, county and city prisons and jails. We want all Black people when brought to trial to be tried in court by a jury of their peer group or people from their Black Communities, as defined by the Constitution of the United States. We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice, and peace. Do any of these sound familiar? They do to me. There are distinct parallels from what they were standing for then, and what many of our own are still standing for now in our communities. This is how I will close this point. Instead of wearing dashikis, and claiming a heritage that you really know nothing about, how about learning about your heritage. More than what ancestry.com can provide, get to know our people. Yes, our history was erased due to slavery, but we are all still a part of those people. Africans welcome African-Americans with open arms. Talk to one. Learn about their history and traditions. I’m sorry, but I couldn't care less about Wakanda. It doesn’t exist. I care about what is real around me right now, and so should you.
BHM is followed by women’s month on the calendar. Again, it is another month that someone decided we should celebrate a people group in our country. To me, it’s all stupid. Why use a month to shed light on something that we should be doing every day. I am a black man. As such, I spend every waking moment of my life living black history. I have a wall full of degrees which tells me that my life combats the stereotype that comes with my skin tone. I have a loving black family with both parents, again, another stereotype negated. I am a musician and pastor, and I love the people that I have the opportunity to serve with each Sunday. There is no changing it, it is who I am. So why do we have certain months to bring attention? Because for most of us, it isn’t something that we do every day. I have a mother, a sister, and countless friends, all of whom are successful women. Most of them are black (all of my closest friends are*), but I still celebrate all of them every day. There are things that women do that I could never understand (like periods and pregnancy), and then there are things I simply admire (strength, perseverance). Society would have us to believe that no one cares about women or that women are an ignored afterthought. While true for the ignorant minority, that doesn’t represent the masses. So no, they don’t need a month, they should be celebrated all year, all of the time. If you’ve got women in your life, celebrate them. Do something for them. Not just in March, but all the time. For me, my mother’s birthday is in March, so I get the opportunity to celebrate her. But I tell my mother all the time how I love her, and I am thankful for her. I don’t need a date on the calendar for that.
*I wrote that most of my closest friends are black, and that is not a knock to other races. I have tried to befriend those of other races (specifically speaking to white people), and for some reason, it has never been something that stuck. I like people from all backgrounds, but I typically only trust those from a similar experience. Trust is proven, not given.