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‘Black Panther’: A Stepping Stone into Afrofuturism

Credit: Gage Skidmore

A movie that has grabbed, hoarded and kept close my attention: Black Panther (2018). T’Challa, the prince of Wakanda who carries the current title of the Black Panther, was weaved into the Marvel Cinematic Universe during the events of Captain America: Civil War. And while the film’s main focus was a feud sparked between Captain America and Iron Man, laced in between the conflict were the necessary details of Wakanda to create an inviting interest in the most technologically advanced nation on Earth.

And then the trailer dropped.

(Credit: Marvel Entertainment)

Flooding social media was the profound commentary and analysis of intrigued individuals. Minor fascination turned into full-fledged passion, as we all processed the intimately powerful visuals of beautiful black figures — untouched by western influences, surrounded by vibrant colors, complimented by advanced technology. Visualizing a relationship between African origins and state of the art technology forms a hopeful image of black skin transcending the present wrath it receives. A reminder that we are not the faceless, desensitized image placed upon us.

The concept is refreshing, but not new. Black Panther embodies a theme that can be labeled under the term “Afrofuturism.” The title serves to intersect non-Western traditions with genres like fantasy and science fiction that hold themes of futuristic technology, bad-ass space adventures and other antics held beyond earth’s atmosphere. Unable to stand by a concrete definition, Afrofuturism crosses paths with several mediums for several purposes.

Along with the upcoming film, Black Panther, other examples include Beyonce’s Grammy performance, several books written by Octavia Butler and Ytasha Womack’s novel called Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture. Each medium delivers Afrofuturism through different lenses, but they all hold ground to the idea that black people can and will push outside and beyond the foolish social standards placed upon us. The genre is by no means an effort to educate and reflect exactly our past, but the aesthetic does serve a role in nurturing a connection between our origins and other-worldly excellence.

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