One of the reactions to the movie The Black Panther has been “at last.” At last a black super hero movie. At last a cast dominated by black actors and images of strong, powerful, and smart black men and women. Whoopi Goldberg said she has been waiting for this film for 25 years. She also tweeted that “EVERY woman in this film, no matter what your race, is the woman you want 2 be.” I loved this movie and I loved the women warriors and geeks, just like I loved Wonder Woman. https://www.riseupleadershipcoaching.com/wonder-woman
Thinking about why I was so grateful for these films brought back memories of arguments I used to have with my mother about language. She believed that nouns ending in “man,” like fireman and policeman, were understood to be universal. I argued that they were not. Children understood these words to be gender specific, which was compounded by not having any actual examples of females in those roles. I didn’t want my two daughters to grow up believing they were excluded from any profession. I also didn’t want them excluded, as I had been, from our religious heritage. There are still copies of our family’s Passover Haggadah where I crossed out “sons” and wrote “children.” Fortunately, newer versions of the Haggadah made my penciled in changes unnecessary. Over time, our language has changed and what seemed revolutionary has become ordinary.
Images have been slower to change, and we still have such a long way to go. Reading through #representationmatters, I heard black, female, and LGBTQ writers all share the power of images to affirm their identities, inspire their career choices, and open their eyes to possibilities.
In “23 Reminders that Representation is Everything”, www.buzzfeed.com cites both the negative:
When you lack images of yourself in the art and media that claims to showcase the world- or when those images are warped, or ugly – it creates a palpable thirst for something more.
And the positive:
To me, T’chilla looks like my dad. My sister is Dora Milaje And you all get to see my people as asskicking royals. @alexisthenedd