When Chadwick Bozeman passed, it only took looking at social media to realize that his passing had an enormous impact. His life had an even bigger impact.
I can not even begin to understand the feeling, seeing the Black Panther where Black people were heroic, powerful. If it was anything near the impact of seeing Wonder Woman for the first time, it would have been profound. I would guess to an even higher extent, because the representation of Black folx as heroic, as kings, as dignified and worthy is even rarer than seeing white women as super heroes.
I remember almost crying when seeing Wonder Woman. I remember thinking “yes!” as Captain Marvel just didn’t bother with macho bullshit. I’m not Black. I can’t possibly know how it would feel to see someone like yourself on screen with the dignity of T’Challa. Be a king the way he was a king. But I do know what it felt like, for a few hours, to see a woman be heroic without the male gaze distorting her power, and it made me feel invincible. It made me feel there was a place in this world for me.
Before Wonder Woman, the only real power fantasy I had gotten the same unmitigated rush from was Egalia’s Daughters by Gerd Brantenberg. It’s a book where the gender roles are flipped. I remember buying it at a pocket shop at Stockholm’s Central Station, waiting for my train and while walking home and by the time the book was finished resurfacing to the real world, wondering if men felt so powerful all the time, so entitled. And I realized they probably do. The whole Western world is made for white men. No wonder they feel entitled. Everything is telling them they should be.
There are countless studies I could quote around how the image projected about us as people set the expectations for what we can be, not just for others, but for ourselves.
If we’re never allowed to be amazing and wonderful and heroic in popular culture, it will require quite an effort to be amazing, wonderful and heroic in real life.
Honestly, we can’t let white men from the Western world control the narrative anymore. We have to change it, to let everyone of us in, and let every one of us be both represented and represented well.