I am a daughter of the Wakandan Revolution.
No, I am not confused. I don’t think I’m living in a comic book world (though some people might beg to differ.)
What I mean to say is–I am one of the many Black Millennials looking for a hero that looks like them in a world overrun by comic-inspired TV shows and films featuring men with pretty blue eyes and pale skin.
We are the Black Panther Revival Generation. We are the generation of Kamala Khan Ms. Marvel and Miles Morales Spiderman. We are the generation of a female Thor and the Lois Lane novel series.
And in honor of a moment that is seeking to give the underrepresented what we’ve been screaming for at the top of our lungs, my fellow Daughter of the Wakandan Revolution, Micah Watson, and I will be writing a serial called “King of the Black Millennials.” As a budding revolutionary film maker, she is fascinated by the presence or absence of Black bodies in film and the implications of that. So, as you might imagine, to kick off our series, Micah wrote a dope blog post on the Black Panther cameo in Captain America: Civil War.
I, in contrast, am here to give you my thoughts on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther run.
Let us first examine the facts.
“Ravynn, did you hear that Ta-Nehisi Coates is writing the new BP run?” asked every person who knew anything about comics/Black literature ever. As a mildly uninformed college student, at first I was like, “Ta-Ne-who?”
And then I read,”Between the World and Me.”
Shortly afterward my never ending refrain was “DID YOU GUYS HEAR THAT TA-NEHISI COATES IS WRITING THE NEW BLACK PANTHER RUN?”
As an aspiring writer, I immediately fell in love with Coates. (See my Between the World and Me review here.) He successfully managed to articulate painful and meaningful truths in 150 short, but emotionally loaded, pages. Seeing the kind of literary damage this man could wreak, I was both in awe and excited beyond words, knowing that this would be the guy responsible for the revival of one of the world’s most important Black superheroes.
When the first issue was ready for download, I immediately shut and locked my door, turned off all my lights and huddled under my bed covers so that reading this comic would be a contained, almost religious, experience. I had been waiting for this comic featuring a Black hero, written by my Black hero, for so long.
I was not disappointed.
Admittedly, the story arc of the first few issues is supposed to be a trilogy, so it will make the events of the first two issues come together more cleanly. Nevertheless, from the first page, I was hooked.
I greatly respect images of my heroes when they are fallen, bent. I appreciate the fact that it shows he does still crave approval, and the words of others haunt and hurt him. Power and strength does not take away your humanity; and by having T’Challa bent in the very first page shows that this is a series that explores humility and the humanity of the so-called superhero. He is a man apart, but with a desire for community. Alone, he is not as great as he could be among many.
This idea is so important to this run that it is established on the very first page.
Reading the first issue, it’s easy to see how Black Millennials will flock to T’Challa and make him our king. The story deals with a people mistrusting a government that they no longer feel serves them, protects them. T’Challa sees the people’s need for a leader, but to a degree, he doubts his own ability to be the hero his people need. It shows us that rage and a powerful need to see change may have the power to create, instead of destroy, if channeled properly.
I ask– how many Black Millennials have feared authority? Have wanted to be change? Have wanted to create?
We, the Black Millennials of the Wakandan Revolution, are looking for a hero to lead our charge, to be our champion.
This is not a moment without leaders, as some want to say.
No, this is a moment, where the power of words are coming from a different type of leader, in a different way, and to be honest, considering who are the Revolutionary Black Millennials are today, would we really listen to religious leaders today the way that we listened to Malcolm and Martin? Different times, means a different means of communication, and with every Black Millennial searching for their own way to become a hero, to make a change, Ta-Nehisi Coates is reaching us where we are.
We, my friends, are the Generation of the Wakandan Revolution.