Re­flec­tions on Wakanda, part 2 - what about the women?

South Florida Times - - PRAYERFUL LIVING - EDI­TOR’S NOTE: The pic­tures used with last week’s Wakanda col­umn were in­cor­rect. Photos of the se­nior John F. White were in­ad­ver­tently dis­played.

In a world untouched by the op­pres­sive can­cers of Western racism, colo­nial­ism, cap­i­tal­ism and sex­ism, the lead­ing women of “Black Pan­ther”— Nakia, Okoye, Shuri and Ra­monda—are a fierce four­some, su­per­hero soul sis­tahs in their own right.

Wel­come to Wakanda, where the fe­male fig­ures of this fic­tional and fu­tur is­tic African coun­try of­fer a glimpse of the glory of un­chained, un­hin­dered, un­re­strained, unadul­ter­ated wom­an­ist power.

When Alice Walker de­fined the term some years back, sis­tahs be­gan to align them­selves with Walker’s bold as­ser­tion, “Re­spon­si­ble. In charge. Se­ri­ous…. Wom­an­ist is to f em­i­nist as as pur­ple is to laven­der.”

“Black Pan­ther” is over­flow­ing with pur­ple. What we wit­ness in its ex­plo­ration of a beloved com­mu­nity may be the most am­bi­tious cin­e­matic de­pic­tion of the wom­an­ist way of be­ing. Walker’s words ap­ply to these Wakan­dan women and how they roll: “…out­ra­geous, au­da­cious, coura­geous or will­ful...”

The images of pow­er­ful, strong sis­tahs who are Wakan­dan lead­ers along with be­ing nur­tur­ing, fear­less and car­ing char­ac­ters, are re­fresh­ing as we close out Women’s His­tory Month. There’s Nakia, Prince T’Challa’s ex-girl­friend, who is a war­rior and a spy; Okoye, the gen­eral and per­sonal pro­tec­tor of the prince; Shuri, the princess who is the science and tech­nol­ogy mas­ter­mind; Ra­monda, the re­gal Queen Mother, and we can’t leave out the Dora Mi­laje, the all-fe­male royal guard.

We also see sis­tahs who are a large part of the wis­dom coun­cil, shar­ing their opin­ions and not be­ing shushed by their male coun­ter­parts nor told to keep quiet and just be happy hav­ing a seat at the ta­ble. These sis­tahs are strong, these sis­tahs are pow­er­ful, and they are many: There are more main fe­male char­ac­ters in “Black Pan­ther” than any other Marvel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse film. And when Walker pro­claimed wom­an­ists are, “Com­mit­ted to sur­vival and whole­ness of en­tire peo­ple, male and fe­male,” though they are fic­tional, these sis­tahs are giv­ing us life as they fight for their loved ones and com­mu­nity, in true wom­an­ist fash­ion.

These char­ac­ters em­body bold wom­an­ist wis­dom, work and worth. And they help us see our­selves in a ma­jes­tic, cor­rec­tive and in­spir­ing way. So, let’s tell the truth and shame the devil: as Danai Gurira, who played Okoye en­cour­aged sis­tahs in a re­cent in­ter­view, “Just be­cause we are dif­fer­ent doesn’t mean we are de­fi­cient.”

Don’t be­lieve the you’re de­fi­cient lie just be­cause your skin is dark like mocha choco­late or light like caramel. Don’t be­lieve the lie just be­cause your lips are full and your eyes are big. Don’t be­lieve the lie be­cause your hair is kinky and curly. Rev. Maria Mal­lory White and Rev. John F.White II

They say, your frame is not sleek enough, your eyes are not blue enough, and your be­hinds are not small enough. They say your hands are not smooth enough, your feet are not soft enough, your waist is not thin enough, and your hips are not straight enough. Lies.

That’s what they say, but we cel­e­brate a sis­tah like Nakia, who doesn’t take what is but looks for what can be. We cel­e­brate a sis­tah like Ra­monda, who em­pow­ers us in the mid­dle of a fight for our lives with the words, “Show them who you are!” We cel­e­brate a sis­tah like Gen­eral Okoye, who stands right next to us and fights with us and will be loyal to us. We cel­e­brate a sis­tah like Shuri who will say to us just be­cause some­thing works doesn’t mean it can’t be im­proved.

Yes! Wakanda for­ever!


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