Not sure if the world truly understands and recognizes what Black Panther and Chadwick Boseman really meant to Black culture. To us. Of course, it was cool as ever to finally have a TRUE superhero representative of our Blackness and also be the star - I mean it was long overdue but the wait was more than worth it. I say this in light of how crucial it was to see a BLACK hero in such high standards of leadership, bravery, selflessness, and just a solid ass character. The way Chadwick Boseman embodied THE Black Panther inspired us, motivated us, and just made us feel proud as hell to be Black. For the first time in my lifetime for sure, I felt as a Black person I was SUPERIOR to anything or anyone else - that's a powerful feeling because we all know that's something they never wanted us to feel or experience.
With that said it's critical to reiterate how much representation really matters to us. In urban planning, Black planners are viewed as unicorns and when we are seen it's only for us to live in the balance of dimming our Blackness to fit into the white ideology of what urban planning looks like. I was told representation was needed but wasn't really something I should focus on because there are "equity groups" and "diversity-based" ideologies doing that work. In reality, representation work wasn't there for us when I got into this field and even now we're just now being seen and connecting with one another. Black Panther is more than a movie, kinda like Wakanda is more than an "imaginary city", it represents the feeling of being THE dominant culture in a world that we're the top dogs and we distribute the wealth, the resources, EVERYTHING! As an urban planner Wakanda is a dream place to design, create, and possibly model after as it relates to fully embracing Black culture as the foundation for a fully functional BLACK society. All made possible without zoning :)
Representation in urban planning as Black planners with Black voices is more critical than just having a seat the table - it's about being SEEN as valuable assets to a group of people that aren't allowed to see themselves in a positive light, to a race that's always considered less than...we deserve more than representation but it's a damn good start. Black Panther excited the kid in me that loved superheroes but always longed for one that related to me, my struggles, my skin complexion... ya know? It's more than just having someone that looks like you it's having someone that truly identifies with you in a positive and impactful way - it changes the whole vibe and tone of representation. Which is I constantly say REPRESENTATION MATTERS so damn much. Black Panther gave us someone to believe in, it gave us Wakanda, a world that allowed us to exist as the Kings and Queens that we are, but also showed us that everything that glitters ain't gold - we have issues like the next but we also control problems in OUR world without police intervention. And that's 100% shade.
Black Panther inspired all, if not, most of us to really be whatever we wanted. To really excel in ways we've always been capable of. To be Black as we want and not have to ever dim our light for white comfort. It inspired strength in men and women, it showcased amazing leadership and the pitfalls of jealous/envy, it showed us to always fight for what we believe in and protect OUR people at all costs...I couldn't be more proud of how strong we truly are. It's a no brainer of how Black Panther impacted Black kids/teens all over the world but it also revealed a look at urban planning that is often pushed to the side. That perspective is one that emulates how valuable our voices, our experiences, and our intelligence is to the field entirely. I mean without us there would essentially be no need/desire for the white urban planning agenda to "fix" or "revitalize" every urban ghetto/hood, right? Representation changes the entire narrative of a story in a way that the lived experiences of those without the pen finally get to tell their OWN story without unwanted narration. We're here to tell our own story. To tell our BLACK story through our BLACK lens.
Although Chadwick Boseman passed away his character on/off screen created a light in us that the world can never no matter what they throw at us. They fucked up when they gave us a Black superhero w/an ALL Black cast of strong ass men and women showcasing a BLACK world. Thank you Chadwick Boseman for being the superhero we never knew we really needed as Black kids. Thank you even more so for being the epitome of Black excellence in every way.
And yes, T'Challa is my BLACK KING. You know it's WAKANDA FOREVER ✊🏽 - that's on period. 🖤
“To be young, gifted and Black,” Boseman started, borrowing words from Nina Simone. “We all know what it’s like to be told that there is not a place for you to be featured. Yet you are young, gifted and Black. We know what it’s like to be told there’s not a screen for you to be featured on, a stage for you to be featured on. We know what it’s like to be the tail and not the head. We know what it’s like to be beneath and not above. That is what we went to work with every day because we knew… that we had something special that we wanted to give the world. That we could be full human beings in the roles that we were playing. That we could create a world that exemplified a world that we wanted to see.” ~ Chadwick Boseman
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