Title of Abstract

How Marvel’s Black Panther Enforces Diasporic Disunity

Submitting Student(s)

Nyombi Walthour-Corley

Faculty Sponsor (for work done with a non-Winthrop mentor)

Robert Prickett, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

English

Abstract

This paper explores Black Panther’s failure to present its intended message of unity between African peoples and African Americans by mishandling the latter’s historical political movements and motives. The film’s two leading characters, T’Challa and Erik Killmonger, represent two sides of the African diaspora that have not always had favorable relations between each other. Throughout the film, both men oppose the other, as Killmonger harbors violent black nationalist and revolutionary views that threaten the continued safety of Wakanda. As the country’s current ruler, T’Challa is naturally opposed to Killmonger, and their strife sparks an internal war. Although the film ultimately ends on a bittersweet but optimistic note, it is the mishandling of the ideas of the community Killmonger represents that exposes how the film has actually promoted continued misunderstanding of the many sociopolitical issues that African Americans face. Furthermore, the film gives the responsibility of finding a solution to African American issues to Wakanda, rather than America—the country that Killmonger was actually targeting. The elevated focus on the role of African peoples during the Transatlantic slave trade, the purely antagonistic role that Killmonger plays, the minute appearance and sacrifice of an African American woman, and the insertion of a token “white savior” character all contribute to the film’s failure to promote black unity. The film ends without both sides truly understanding or helping the other. Thus, what Black Panther conceptualizes is continued diasporic disunity and a lack of understanding regarding the politics and struggles of the African American community.

Start Date

15-4-2022 12:00 PM

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Apr 15th, 12:00 PM

How Marvel’s Black Panther Enforces Diasporic Disunity

This paper explores Black Panther’s failure to present its intended message of unity between African peoples and African Americans by mishandling the latter’s historical political movements and motives. The film’s two leading characters, T’Challa and Erik Killmonger, represent two sides of the African diaspora that have not always had favorable relations between each other. Throughout the film, both men oppose the other, as Killmonger harbors violent black nationalist and revolutionary views that threaten the continued safety of Wakanda. As the country’s current ruler, T’Challa is naturally opposed to Killmonger, and their strife sparks an internal war. Although the film ultimately ends on a bittersweet but optimistic note, it is the mishandling of the ideas of the community Killmonger represents that exposes how the film has actually promoted continued misunderstanding of the many sociopolitical issues that African Americans face. Furthermore, the film gives the responsibility of finding a solution to African American issues to Wakanda, rather than America—the country that Killmonger was actually targeting. The elevated focus on the role of African peoples during the Transatlantic slave trade, the purely antagonistic role that Killmonger plays, the minute appearance and sacrifice of an African American woman, and the insertion of a token “white savior” character all contribute to the film’s failure to promote black unity. The film ends without both sides truly understanding or helping the other. Thus, what Black Panther conceptualizes is continued diasporic disunity and a lack of understanding regarding the politics and struggles of the African American community.