FEAR OF A BLACK MARKET: WAKANDA
“We got a negro problem”
In the series “Mad Men” about advertisers on Madison Ave in the 60’s, a customer comes in with a big problem. The TV company called Admiral was suffering growth, sales were through the roof and growing. The Mad Men look perplexed, surely that’s a good thing, the disgusted executives of Admiral TV begged to disagree. They had a nigger problem, too many black people were buying their TV’s and this risked losing them the White Racist market, so they wanted it both ways, blacks to stop buying and whites buy more. That is the economic model of racist capitalism, to economically suppress a portion of the population and not fulfill their economic potential, their own narrative of ‘Black Wretchedness’ blinds them to the economic potential of Blacks as a market. Look at the businesses prevalent in Black neighborhoods; liquor stores, fried chicken joints, strip clubs, pawn shops, payday loans, all designed to destroy both mentality and physically. If you want Bistros, Electronics shops, designer clothes, insurance, banking, you have to go to a white neighborhood. As if blacks don’t use any of these positive services. The same applies to movies, they never see blacks as a potential market. Hollywood movies are written and designed for 13-25 year old men or boys. They provide 80% of current revenue, they watch the blockbusters, then buy the video game, then merchandise, then waits for the sequel to do it again. Hollywood used to be way more diverse especially in the 80’s and 90’s, when video and DVD sales brought us unusual diversity. Beverley Hills Cop would never be made today, no CGI budget, no marketing budget, it would sell itself, Hollywood feeds off failure they get paid even when it flops. Most adult audiences moved to series and Netflix-type shows where you can explore the full moral complexity in 13hrs and not 90 minutes. So Hollywood pandered to this White male 13-25 group, and it became whiter, more racist, contrary to its so-called Liberal values.
Is it that far-fetched really?
Of all the things this movie professes, one thing is really irking to some; the idea that a black African country could be the most technologically advanced nation in the world. This has angered some Conservatives like Ben Shapiro, Tucker Carlson, and Ann Coulter, who scoff at the idea of blacks being technologically advanced. They claim Black Panther is Racist because it excludes White people. Did they say the same for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? In recent Hollywood movies we’ve seen Tom Cruise as The Last Samarai and Matt Damon built the Great Wall of China. A whole generation of young white kids will grow up thinking White people built the Great Wall of China. White Supremacy is under attack, young white kids are seeing great things achieved by other races, you explain by saying those brown people were being commanded by white people behind the scenes. The idea that Blacks were the most advanced race technologically is not absurd, we just chose the wrong technologies. The Bronze Busts of Benin are still the best and most detailed metal sculptures ever made, the goldsmiths of Mali were the best in the world, the Luba had the best copper works in the world. Slavery was the biggest transfer of knowledge and skills in history, we look at slaves as meat, but they were valuable for skills. White slavers knew certain tribes were expert in certain things; Senegalese slaves were sent to Carolina to farm rice, Yoruba slaves with metallurgy skills were sent to be Ironsmiths, Benin’s masons were sent to build Northern cities. The slaves who built congress must have just thought it was a giant Mosque with a dome on top.
The world of Wakanda
First of all, this format does not do the idea justice, 2 hours is not enough, I just hope they do a Game Of Thrones type of series to fully explore the infinite possibilities. This movie was just a brief peep into a world of the possible, a world that we want and we decide ourselves. The aesthetics are drawn from all of Africa, it can be jarring to see Malian imagery mixed with Xhosa and Igbo, but to an American it is all African. The strong female characters that complement the strong male characters without clashing, a society that has resolved the gender balance issue, with technology overcoming brute strength “Guns, So primitive!” 60% of the audience has been women. The wonderful villain Killmonger, a real pan-Africanist who wanted to use their technology to free Black people all over the world, and the Hero – T’challa who wants to stop that. In this there is a moral dilemma for Blacks, a Disney production cannot advocate racial liberation, but just the idea of it is subversive enough. It leaves you wondering who the hero really is? In the end T’challa has to fulfill the destiny of the antagonist, to see he was wrong and fought for the wrong cause. It is the essence of warrior culture to honour your enemy, in so doing you honour yourself. You realize you wanted the same thing, just with different methods. Black Panther is a different hero to what we are used to, shows vulnerability, is reliant on others, and doesn’t have all the answers. This movie shows the importance of shifting the narrative, perhaps the mistake of the Civil Rights movement was to try and get a Capitalist system see them as human, they should have been seen as Markets. Now Hollywood can point to solid data that Black Movies work on a big scale, a Black man starred in the biggest Star Wars movie, so White audiences are not scared of diversity, only the no-risk bean counters in Hollywood are. Hollywood is losing its power, production is moving to other cities, Atlanta has a more diverse $8bn movie and TV industry, 40% of Hollywood peak earnings.
Afro-futurism in molding a pan-African vision
Mythology will never die, it just adapts with technology, who would have thought that in 2018 we’d be spending $100bn a year on Mythology. Books, Films, Video games, apps, TV, series, all this is just mythology. Harry Potter, Lord of The Rings, Star Wars, James Bond, all these are age old stories that have existed throughout history. Noah Yuval Hariri wrote in his book “Sapiens” that the most important thing helped advance humankind was stories. Stories are the glue that bind us, stories entertain, impart wisdom, teach ethics, preserve knowledge, affirm values, and they are the only true inter-generational link between us. When you hear negative lies/news about Africa and you shrug “It’s just stories” stories are the most dangerous thing in the world. That story affects how you are viewed, it affects the interest rates your nation is charged, it affects how much you pay for basic medicines, your ability to get a visa and any aspect of life. When we say we need to tell our stories it is not just for entertainment but an important driver of development. We lost our stories, we lost ourselves, and this is a chance to revive them. We have better stories than Black Panther that are centuries old, much richer in detail and relevant values, but Black Panther is a good start because it is based on many of those myths. I imagine a Rwandan Blockbuster featuring our own heroes and gods, Gihanga vs Ryangombe in an epic battle for the ages, like Thor and Odin. It would have universal values for all to learn from, but it would uplift Rwandan children the most. Start with a Comic book of Rwandan myths and history, but transposed today. Can we ever imagine a Rwanda that was never colonized? What kind of Rwanda would it be? We can start on that today, in reimagining our past, we would be designing a perfect future by learning from past mistakes.
Young Rwandans, write a 1,000 word story on Rwanda uncolonised, a futuristic utopia but still faced with challenges both internal and external