Monday, March 19, 2018

Welcome to "Wakandan Jurisprudence: How Black Panther Challenges us to Examine the Past, Present, and Future of Race"

Black panther poster


Black Panther has been a box office juggernaut.  The film claimed the number one spot in its debut weekend and has yet to relinquish the top spot at the box office.  The action-packed superhero film easily surpassed one billion dollars in ticket sales over its five week theatrical run.  It is not only commercial successful, but also critically acclaimed. 

This blog is not an entertainment blog.  It's not even a media and the law blog.  We are a blog that focuses on race, racism, and the law. Why would we devote time to a superhero movie?  

For us, the significance of Black Panther goes beyond its ticket sales or comic book origins.  This film has a cultural significance that goes beyond the silver screen.  Its portrayal of Africa, Africans, and Blackness in general makes it more than mindless popcorn-munching entertainment.  At the end of the day, the law is merely the codification of social mores.  Black Panther challenges those social norms on many fronts. 

There are a number of reasons why Black Panther deserves scholarly consideration.  King T'Challa, the Black Panther, is one of only a handful of superheroes of color.   Though Hollywood has created multiple interpretations of heroes such as Batman and Superman, Black Panther is first feature film dedicated to a Black superhero.  Though that alone would be significant, the fact that T'Challa reigns over the kingdom of Wakanda, a fictional African realm, causes us to rethink how Africa has been historically portrayed in Western media.  The prominence of Black women in the film - and the varied roles that they occupy - is directly contrary to the standard Hollywood fare.  Moreover, the fact that Wakanda has achieved untold technological advances  adds another layer, as it causes us to consider the impact of racism and colonization on the African continent.  To that end, T'Challa's foe, his American-born cousin Erik Killmonger, is also a metaphor for the relationship Africans forcibly taken to the New World have with the Continent. 

For these reasons, and many more, we believe that an examination of Black Panther is fully in line with the goals of this blog.  This week's online symposium will feature provocative, enlightening, and entertaining posts.  We hope you will enjoy it!

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