"Black panther" mirrors the duality of martin luther king, jr. and malcolm x teen vogue education level university

“Black panther” mirrors the duality of martin luther king, jr. and malcolm x teen vogue education level university

Black panther smashed records at the box office its opening weekend, demonstrating that audiences are interested in films that better represent themselves and the world around them — even if that world is filled with superheroes and armor-clad rhinos. As a piece of art, it is stunning on its own, but perhaps one of the most poignant parts of the film is its exploration of various modes of blackness and masculinity seldom portrayed in mainstream films.

The central conflict is between two characters in pursuit of black liberation (or a “home” for black people to live freely) through two modes: one of tradition versus one of radicalism. T’challa, played by chadwick boseman, is the black panther and the hero of the film.

He is the rightful heir to the throne of his homeland, the technological utopia of wakanda, untainted by a history of colonization from the west, and strives to keep his people safe, prosperous and peaceful.Black panther the anti-hero, erik killmonger, played by michael B. Jordan, was orphaned in oakland, california (a not-so-subtle nod to the birthplace of the black panther party which was founded there in 1966), his father killed by his uncle. After the tragedy, erik’s life is fueled by both revenge and the pursuit of a “fairytale” land with the “most beautiful sunset” of which he believes he is the rightful heir.

Their conflict mirrors a duality often discussed in black history through figures like martin luther king, jr. And malcolm X. Killmonger — whose values most resemble those that have become synonymous with malcolm X’s legacy — has a fictional story arc that is similar to malcom’s real life one. After his father was murdered by white supremacists, malcolm X ended up in the hands of the foster care system and eventually become a hustler on the street. Later when he was incarcerated for burglary, malcolm X educated himself and became increasingly radicalized as he learned about colonialism, black history, and the nation of islam.Martin luther once out of prison, X became a devout advocate for black separatism and armed self-defense.

Both killmonger and malcolm X learned to confront the systemic wrongs waged against black people globally while condemning internalized racism, whitewashing of history, and nonviolent direct action by black people.

In contrast, the black panther, T’challa, can be argued to resemble dr. Martin luther king, jr. As king, he is entrusted with the health and future of wakanda, which he hopes to defend morally. When confronted with whether to pursue klaue, the man who stole from wakanda the precious resource of vibranium, or to help an injured CIA agent, T’challa chooses the latter and even enlists the help of the saved agent. Just as MLK jr. Hoped to combat racial injustice by gaining voting rights, an end to educational discrimination, and other governmental reforms, T’challa chose to use the help those in need instead of pursuing someone guilty of wrongdoing.Luther king

Just as malcolm X and MLK jr. Exhibited the conflicts inherent in the pressures of black masculinity, so does T’challa and killmonger. Both men attempt to find worth in their effectiveness as protectors to their loved ones and as aggressors to their enemies. Killmonger is deeply connected to the struggle that people that “look like him” experience around the world. Upon entering wakanda and challenging T’challa for the throne, he criticizes the black panther for failing to capture klaue and not sharing the wealth of wakanda, “Y’all sitting up here comfortable. Must feel good. Meanwhile, there are about 2 billion people all over the world that looks like us. But their lives are a lot harder. Wakanda has the tools to liberate them all.”

In similar fashion, malcolm X notably called martin luther king, jr. “an uncle tom”, a term to describe an overly obedient black man, in 1961 for his strategy of nonviolent direct action in the face of racist violence, which X felt left many black families “defenseless”.Martin luther king

Comparable to the complexity of both men in the movie, malcolm X and martin luther king, jr. Had a much more complicated relationship than the media was willing to portray. Near the end of his life, malcolm X began to respect martin luther king for putting his life on the line due to his deep devotion to nonviolence. In a 1967 speech, dr. King spoke about rioting done by the black community during protests. He said, “they are mainly intended to shock the white community… it enables the most enraged and deprived negro to take hold of consumer goods with the ease the white man does by using his purse. Often the negro does not even want what he takes; he wants the experience of taking.”

Neither dr. King or malcolm X would survive being unapologetic, political, and black in america. In the film, however, T’challa the black panther survives, but killmonger does not.Martin luther although the movie pits them against each other as enemies, they arguably are not. Instead, they are representations of how the black body reacts to the threat of colonialism. Without one, the other would not be critically challenged or able to see the humanity in the other.

By giving black men the agency to pursue their own liberation by any means, black panther exposes audiences to a revolutionary notion, unapologetic blackness, and exposes the flaws inherent in unchecked masculinity. Despite their revolutionary ideals, both men attempt to tame the black women around them and furthermore, killmonger views them as disposable obstacles.

In their last moments together, T’challa and the killmonger give depth to the pursuits of black revolutionaries, which are often born from childhood trauma. Killmonger chooses death over bondage and appreciates the wakandan sunset while saying, “can you believe that?Black panther A kid from oakland walking around, believing in fairytales.”

The film ends with T’challa learning from killmonger, just as malcolm X and martin luther king, jr. Learned from each other. The black panther decides to use wakanda’s resources to help the outside world, deviating from the tradition of reclusion that wakanda believed would help them survive.

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