I’m absolutely still in awe. See, I have been blessed and favored to some incredibly amazing things in this world and I am beyond grateful for all of it! From the Taj Mahal to the Galapagos Islands and everything in between, I can’t begin to express the appreciation I have for all things I believe we can agree are absolutely beautiful. That being said, this weekend, I was fortunate to experience what I actually think is truly the most beautiful thing I have ever seen: Black Panther! REMARKABLE doesn’t even begin to capture the beauty that it is but it’s a fair start. Please stick with me here!
This is absolutely a thing of beauty and no, I’m not just talking about all the fabulousness that is on the screen but…how can we not go there? This is an incredible masterpiece of artistic magic that has a boldness without that unwarranted force and yet still a force to be reckoned with! (Let that sink in for a moment). Everything, every piece, every decision around set, characters, lines, the details of the story….BEAUTIFUL! Absolutely beautiful. Wakanda…..WHAT!!!?!?!?!?!?! TAKE ME THERE NOW! I know, I know….only in our dreams. And. All. That. Melanin! Every bit of it. (Pause- can I also just say…..Ms. Bassett. #AgingGoals #Flawless).
Now here’s where I challenge us to go beyond what the eye can see and dig deeper into leadership, community, purpose, accountability, and FUN!
Leadership: Every time I heard “General”, I just wanted to say, “I know that’s right!” With every action taken that was appropriately calculated, strategic, focused on the macro before jumping into tactical, yet without delay, there were major lessons to be learned. And, the focus on bold and confident servant leadership-whoa! I wish I had a pen a paper to take some serious notes but I just didn’t know class was actually about to be in session!
Community: From women fixing each other’s “crowns” to men focusing on the collective to the young prioritizing impact on the world through technology to….I can go on and on and on! What if we focused that way….no matter how we feel about each other (“don’t scare me like that colonizer” hahahahahah!)? What if we prioritized the whole of who we are together rather than what we want to be individually? And to extend this even further….my people, my people…the community instantly built in the theatres! Yes, most of the audiences were black but the beauty of Black Panther is also that it is actually pushing beyond even what we sometimes limit brotherhood and sisterhood to, extending to “familyhood”. So, I’m in Silicon Valley and I definitely saw my Asian, LatinX, white and everything in between brethren sitting right there taking everything in with the rest of us and we were all there…..together!
Purpose: There is so much about knowing who you are that positions you to push forward in this life through any obstacle, challenge, and perceived barrier that shows up to take you off course. Identity is not something to be taken lightly in any way shape or form. I truly believe that what we are experiencing in the horrors of our present-day living is all tied to our individual limited awareness, understanding and appreciation of who we are…..of our identity. And here, Black Panther spins so many micro-sessions throughout the whole movie calling characters, and us, to focus on our identity in order to hone in on progression in fulfilling our purpose. Beautiful!
Accountability: Can you say squad goals!?!? I don’t even know what to say here without giving too much away but there are so many moments in which there is a challenge to actions taken and those not taken (eg Nakia and Okeye) and it’s all about accountability. No one lets anyone off the hook….not even the “colonizer” (haha-yes, I’m still laughing at that one line). And everyone is respected for their decisions, no matter if there is agreement in the decision or not….it’s about accountability! Beautiful!
Fun: What I also love is that everything on that screen, in this film, reflects a love for life in all of its glory. There is celebration even in the midst of the struggle. There is positive anticipation in the midst of intense preparation for challenge. There is jovial, familial engagement and connectedness in the midst of heaviness and labor. It’s about not settling into the one side of the coin that harps on heaviness, darkness, and challenges us to press beyond that, even stealing glimpses of light in the dark veil of weightiness because even in the pursuit of what is greater than us individually, there is always the silver lining of what our purpose can offer to the world. Always. Beautiful!
Finally, the most beautiful part of all of this is what is happening now. Even as you read this. Our minds, perceptions, realm of understanding each other is expanding. There is a shifting of the times-slowly but I have to believe surely. I got to see more people on a screen who look like me, doing incredible things, in a ways that was all inspiring than ever before, in all of my life. Think about that for a moment. And this is not just about me. This is about an overwhelming feeling that what was missing for me as a kid is no longer the same limitation that little black and brown girls and boys will face. New realities are developing that are challenging us to think bigger, broader, and for the love of God, MORE INCLUSIVELY! We’re hearing and seeing more about Afrofuturism, a term first used over ten years (thank you Ms. Alondra Nelson, Mr. Sam Delaney, Ms. Octavia Butler) but just now getting the attention needed to get us all to push through our our limited understanding and appreciation of the world and what we think it is and should be. There is self-love brewing! From the young to the old, identity is being positively influenced, reinforced, re-established and confirmed! YAAASSSSSSS! BRING IT!
So what does one do with all of this? It’s pretty simple actually. I would submit that we just take it all in. Embrace it all, even in the face of blatant hate in many forms tied to this work and piece of awe (shocker, there are many who are actively trying to take away from the impact of this work). Then, take it a step further, go beyond that beauty seen and observed, and operate in inspiration, the inspiration to play your part in taking that awe into the day to day to facilitate moments of magic just like this, in our own ways, facilitating inclusion, fostering familyhood, across the board!
So, yup, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen….not just because of what is seen on the screen, but also because what is yet to be seen but already in motion and being experienced! Black Panther! If ya don’t know, now ya know……and get your ticket. I’m about to get another!!!!
And to think…..this actually started as a two-line facebook post: “Black Panther, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Time to get another ticket!” #Inspired