No cinematic show of Black excellence has made us more proud than the opening weekend of the Black Panther. Not only did this blockbuster inspire an appetite for Afrofuturism, but the melanin-affirming celebration of Blackness reminding us again that our [real] African lineage is oh, so beautiful. The allegorical elements and epic quotes were unforgettable. As we continue to analyze the movie’s significance, we wanted to call out few statements about Black health that no one in Wakanda would want you to miss.
“We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe.”
In his closing address, King T’Challa reminds us that progress requires a unified effort. African Americans make up the highest number of new HIV cases, and we can’t afford to hold on to damaging misperceptions and stigma. We are all affected by HIV. Ending the spread of the disease won’t happen if we maintain an “us” and “them” mentality. HIV must be considered everyone’s problem to tackle together.
“I'm kidding. We're vegetarians.”
Adding a bit of comic relief, M’Baku, the muscle-bound leader of the Jabari tribe, hints at the eating habits of the Wakandan people. According to the CDC, 57% of Black women and 38% of Black men are overweight. We may not need to quit meat altogether to be healthy, but packing in the veggies reduces the likelihood of obesity, prevents many cancers, and can get us prepared to fight alongside the Dora Milaje.
“Yay, another broken white boy for me to fix!”
Our favorite little sister and crowned princess Shuri said this as she utilized vibranium technology to administer medical care to CIA agent Everette Ross. Her elation at the unusual opportunity to treat a foreigner represents a paradigm shift. The people of Wakanda enjoyed care that was not only technologically advanced, but also culturally competent since their research, clinical trials and treatments must have all been tailored to their own specific needs. Experts agree that African Americans benefit from culturally competent care that is administered by doctors who look like them. Currently, only about 5% of physicians are African American, so we applaud Shuri for inspiring Black kids to pursuit STEM and further medical science.
“Just because something works doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.”
Here, Shuri drops wisdom as she introduces T’Challa to his suit’s new upgrades. She seems to remind us that the Black body is an amazing machine which can do even more for us when we challenge it do to so. If you’re working out and eating well, great. But don’t forget your regular screenings, testings and mental health check ins.
As we eagerly await the next amazing installment of the Black Panther, let's concern ourselves with improving our health and honing our own superpowers.