Black People Aren't Extra; We're Excited
Black Panther dropped this weekend and the reception has been insane.
Scroll down the feed on your social network of choice and there's a good chance you'll be greeted by selfies and boomerangs of Black folks dressed up as Wakanda's finest. Some people have been going all out, dressed head-to-toe in their pan-African best. Other's have been keeping it subtle, choosing a simple dashiki or just wearing African-inspired accessories. One thing is for certain though: Black folks are showing up and showing out for this premiere.
If you've seen any of this Black joy on social media, chances are you've also seen people laughing at the hype. Common critiques include "You can't take Black people nowhere," "Y'all taking this way too seriously," and "Black people are so extra."
Here's the thing: Black people aren't extra, we're just finally really excited.
For the longest time, rituals such as dressing up for a movie were typically thought of as "white people things." And for the longest time, they were. For years, we've had millions upon millions of dollars funneled into predominantly white movie franchises such as Harry Potter and Star Wars. These series, while great, don't market themselves to POC audiences (although Star Wars appears to be working towards changing that) and as such, a lot of People of Color have issues finding themselves within them. It's hard to lose yourself in a fantasy world when regardless of how far along technology has come, or how many different magical creatures there are, the most prodigious thing you can find in the movie is a Black body.
Black Panther sees that need and satisfies it. It crafts a world so beautiful, so technologically advanced, and so Black, that for what might be the first time, Black people finally feel able to completely release into it. The escape and the excitement are so real, and seeing that on such a large scale is beautiful.
What's even more beautiful is that this is only the effect on the adult level. We haven't even begun to talk about the children. Black Panther brings forward a whole new gaggle of Halloween costume opportunities and a brand new set of role models and superheroes for children to aspire to be. When I was young, Spider-Man was the hero of our household. My brother got Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man movie for Christmas and proceeded to watch it back to back. I mean he literally finished the movie, reset the DVD, and immediately watched it again. He continued on like that for the rest of the night. The next morning, I found him passed out in front of the TV.
The idea of someone doing that for Black Panther, the idea of a child dressing up as the Black Panther every year for Halloween or begging their parents to let them have a Black Panther themed room, warms my heart in ways I can't express. We have proven time and time again the importance of representation in media, and the fact that little Black kids will be able to look up at the big screen and know that they can not only be superheroes but scientists, spies, leaders, and royalty, is absolutely important.
So no, Black people are not extra. We're just excited as hell, and we're here to celebrate.
Wakanda for mf'n ever.