Black Panther is very nearly upon us, and to say the anticipation is high is something of an understatement. This isn't just another Marvel Studios movie, at least not for millions of people who have waited to see someone who represents them be the center of a mainstream superhero narrative for the first time. As much as Wonder Woman was important for women last year, then so is Black Panther the exact same thing for African-American audiences.
Sure, Marvel's Blade made it to the big screen 20 years ago, but that trilogy was as much R-rated horror as superhero action. In other words, you couldn't take your kids to see it, much less have it be something that inspires them. Black Panther is different. Black Panther is inspirational and aspirational.
And if you've been on social media lately, you may have seen the hashtag #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe. The hashtag was the brainchild of Kayla Sutton, director of online marketing for Black Girl Nerds, who quickly realized the cultural significance of Black Panther releasing at this moment in time. Here's what she had to say on just why she created the hashtag in the first place:
"This was inspired by a question that I asked my son yesterday. He has been reading the comics (like me) and as a young black male with autism I wanted to know what this movie meant to him. It got me thinking about the impact this movie is going to have on so many. And how much it means to us internally at BGN and to my personally as a black woman."
"This film is so unapologetically black and growing up on the outside of the nerd community as an “other” to have a film filled with people that look like me and my family is the most amazing gift. I feel that this film is going to open the door for more comic characters of color to have their stories on the big screen and other groups can have a movement that mirrors the #BlackPanther hype."
Since then, the hashtag has blown up, with hundreds of people sharing their personal feelings regarding the release of the film. You can check out our collection of some of the best uses of the #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe hashtag from around Twitter down below.
— Princess Anastasia (@anamarbo88) February 8, 2018
#WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe? That black folk get to be portrayed cinematically as our true heroic selves instead of as afterthoughts, diluted by the limited minds behind the casting process. Black actors usually gotta audition twice; for the role, and against skewed notions of us.
— Cyrus McQueen (@CyrusMMcQueen) February 6, 2018
— Matthew A. Cherry (@MatthewACherry) February 6, 2018
— Neysha (@La_Ney_sha) February 7, 2018
When they see superheroes that look like them...it tells them "Yes You Can"! #foreverwakanda #blackpanther
If you are in #Brisbane and you want to watch this movie with us on Friday 16 February, let me know. I am hosting a screening.#WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe #africanaustralian pic.twitter.com/1j98DB7gru
— sharon orapeleng (@Sharonora) February 8, 2018
Black Panther is a love letter, a celebration, and a victory march for the diaspora
— Chelsea of the Dora Milaje. WAKANDA FOREVER! (@IfIWereMagneto) February 6, 2018
— Netia McCray (@netiamccray) February 6, 2018
#WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe I was the only black person that graduated with a degree in Chemistry in 2014. At times I was the only black person in the lab. To see Shuri and other black scientists working on groundbreaking technology that is fully theirs means everything to me. https://t.co/CQOziSApim
— Your Royal Blackness. (@MsPowerGranger) February 6, 2018
#WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe having complete confidence in a film, secure in its direction and creation, knowing it will leave me breathless with pride, in awe of the kingdom they’ve built. to see the screen reflect a vision greater than myself and important to our time. pic.twitter.com/9QaKm068h6
— mellowscorpio🌊🦂 (@sistarogerebert) February 6, 2018
When I was younger, people didn't believe I was a nerd because I am a black woman. It was hard to find people like me on tv or in movies. I got really tired of people comparing me to Madea, but now this movie gives kids a chance to have their heroes! #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe pic.twitter.com/VrDL2YXTyT
— MD (@manika0098) February 6, 2018
Are you as excited for Black Panther as much as we are? Be sure to let us know down below in the comments.
Images: Marvel Studios
Black Panther is everywhere!