Black Panther is the Blueprint!
I, like most of the world, have gotten my Black Panther on. I have seen it, re-seen it in 3-D and seen it yet again in IMAX 3-D. I love this movie. I have read more than my fair share of analysis of it. It has all been the feast for my overly analytical mind. Much in the way that I geek out over Game of Thrones, and all the lessons it teaches, Black Panther is a masterclass to me. It is THE Blueprint.
For what? You may be asking. You may be thinking Black Girl Magic or Melanin Popping or why Patriarchy sucks . . . Well . . that is not in this here piece. I am here to discuss the puzzle pieces that came together for me.
Spoilers are coming so you have been warned.
#1- COMMODITIES are EVERYTHING!!!
I have more than a passing understanding of the financial markets and I grew up in Chicago, home of the agricultural trading pits, yet I have paid little attention to commodities- hard or soft. And then I walk into Black Panther and Vibranium is as central to the story as T’challah or Killmonger! Without Vibranium, Wakanda would have been colonized, its people exploited and undoubtedly, would be in need of development aid instead of in a position to the school the world on real progress.
Vibranium is a make believe metal for the benefit of the movie. But, hard commodities are real and many societies (the successful and the others) are sitting on PLENTY of hard commodities- metals, energy, stones! Also, needed are soft commodities- water, crops, etc.
Thanks to Black Panther, I now understand you are going to need to have some hard commodities that your nation owns and conrols to even have a chance to develop wealth. The rarer the commodity, the greater the potential for wealth. The World’s raw materials are EVERYTHING.
If you live in a country that doesn’t have any raw materials, your nation will have a BIG problem at some point and the people will leave in search of resources. Welcome to the reason the colonizers became colonizers.
#2- You can’t just sit on Commodities, you have to develop them for the benefit of YOUR society.
Imagine if Wakanda had been sitting on Vibranium but had no idea about it? There would be no Black Panther, no Afro-Futuristic display . . . . again, Wakanda would have been just another colony. Please believe that someone would have arrived on their doorstep in search of resources and once Vibranium was discovered, they would have been willing to trade lots of glass beads for the right to export it to somewhere that would study it and use it.
And once they tired of trading glass beads or the Wakandan leaders wanted to raise the price, the same “explorers” would have tried their best to conquer and colonize. If you don’t bother to make discoveries of the BEST and NEWEST uses for your commodities, you are a slave to trading and maybe a slave in the making. The value of what you own will be determined by others because you didn’t bother to discover how you could use it. It is just that simple. Transform them or someone else will.
And part of that development better be about defense. Commodities are involved in the development of all weapons and defense systems. If all of your defense systems are the product of trading with other societies, you are not in a position to defend yourself against those societies. Your society will be exploited at a time and a place not of your choosing.
So, to become a wealthy nation, you have to be about the business of using your commodities for YOUR country’s development! Trade them all away & your society is a sitting duck for the next wave of colonization. Thanks to Black Panther you cannot say you haven’t been warned!
#3- Without an educated population, your success & wealth potential will be wasted.
Clueless people can’t transform anything. Not because they lack inherent intelligence but because that intelligence has never been applied & developed. Educated, experienced people are the secret sauce to the development of raw materials. A society can be sitting on commodities for days but they can’t use them because they don’t have people that can think of new & ingenious ways to use them. Educating people is always pitched as a altruistic thing that allows each member of society to pursue a better life. That is lovely but it is only part of the story. Let’s address the real reason why education matters- your society will fail without educated people.
Imagine Black Panther without Shuri and her lab. Do you think she was the first person to use & develop vibranium? Do you think she works their alone? How about all of the people that have to build the things she has designed? And because a society never knows who may be carrying the next brilliant idea, the best approach is to educate everyone in the basics and then let them develop specialities.
Limiting education to boys or the wealthy means a lot of ideas and potential never sees the light of day. And if you think the current focus on S.T.E.M. is about getting a job, you are wrong. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are the core of commodities development and should be the focus for at least some portion of society in perpetuity. If I could start over again, I may have made a different set of choices based on what I know now.
If you don’t know anyone that looks like you that works in mining, exploration, technology or commodities, then you know why the group of people that you belong to lacks wealth. It is just that simple. There may be other reasons too but if you don’t solve that problem and become prepared to own and manage businesses with that in mind, nothing will change.
#4- A Successful Society needs homegrown fighters and they need to be honored members of your Society.
Armies are needed if you plan to hold on to what you have. They need weapons & should be experienced in fighting. Again, the weapons need to be developed with the resources that you have and optimized. You may think I mean Okoyo & the Dora Milaje. Okoyo did steal the screen whenever she could but it takes more than a King’s guard to protect a nation. In general, they are charged with protecting the King.
You may think I mean Nakia, a spy, that lived outside of the Wakanda’s walls but did its bidding but without anyone knowing or understanding that was her goal. Spies are necessary and provide needed information but they can’t protect a nation from attack. By definition, they tend to not live in the nation.
I am referring to W’Kabi and the Border Tribe. THEY were charged with protecting the nation from outside attack and had done so when Klaw attacked. They defended the nation & suffered heavy casualties in the process. They must have been effective because Klaw had not returned and he was not trying to return despite knowing they were sitting on plenty of Vibranium.
But, it also seems despite the effectiveness of the Border Tribe and the close friendship between W’Kabi and T’Challah, T’Challah seemed to not understand the need to listen to W’Kabi’s counsel or allow him to pursue Klaw away from Wakanda. Did they at least have a parade in honor of the Border Tribe?
Fighters need to train, be given adequate weapons to fight and be listened to about how the society needs to be protected. Basically, they need to be given the room to do what they do & appreciation when they do it well. They sacrifice more than anyone else and that needs to be respected.
#5- Injustice, if allowed to stand, will leave a society open to the Strong Man Leader.
Injustice better be addressed. Speaking of W’Kabi, you do know that he had been patient right. Klaw had killed both of his parents. His tribe had suffered losses at the hand of this man. Vibranium was taken. Yet, T’Chaka, T’Challa’s father did nothing to bring him to justice. And, then, when it was time to go get Klaw, T’Challa would not let W’Kabi go get him but promised him, he would bring Klaw to justice. He did not keep his promise. A long standing injustice continued.
How about Killmonger? He suffered so much injustice and his very existence was omitted from Wakanda. The most prominent members of Wakandan society were responsible for the injustice that was his life.
Unaddressed injustice is a form of corruption and corruption is the breeding ground for the Strong Man Leader. Always has been and always will be. If you have a Strong Man running your society, don’t ask why . . . Black Panther has given you the answer- Unaddressed Injustice/ Corruption. Good Luck getting rid of him. You are in for the fight of your life.
#6- Beware of the Strong Man Leader.
The Strong Man shows up promising to address the corruption or injustice that has gone on for far too long. And Killmonger not only promised, he delivered right out of the gate. He knew exactly what gift would be needed and delivered Klaw’s head on the proverbial silver platter. Baby, please believe, the Strong Man has studied the corruption and injustice of the society. He is an expert in it because he knows he can use it as his ladder to power.
And, he also knows the elite have become entitled and extremely comfortable in their luxe life. Totally confused as to why addressing the injustice & corruption effecting the masses matters, outside of some general belief in ethics. And, often times, the elite are the direct and indirect beneficiaries of the corruption/injustice. So there is that too.
I mean can we say that T’Chaka wasn’t thinking about his own son’s succession when he left Killmonger behind?
But, here is the thing with Strong Men, despite those initial gifts, the Strong Man is seeking power to feed his own personal needs & ego. Nothing more. And once in power, he will do anything to maintain it. ANYTHING! Killmonger was about burning those flowers for a reason & it was not for the benefit of the Wakandan people!
The Strong Man is a student of corruption and injustice, which means he will be excellent at using both for his own benefit. He is in search of power for himself, in perpetuity, and will dispense with rivals with a quickness. And the elite will be clueless as to how to address his growing power.
#7- A succession plan can’t be strictly driven by nepotism.
In a successful society, if you want to lead, you better have to earn it in some way. Sure, the very elite of any society have a greater chance of ending up running the place. That is just how things go. But, Wakanda was smart enough to develop the challenge system.
And thank God M’Baku came down from the literal mountain to give T’Challah a run for his money. Everyone else just wanted to crown him King. No fight, let’s just get to the celebration. M’Baku was not there for the celebration. He came to make sure that whomever was going to lead Wakanda had earned the privilege. T’Challah and his fam most definitely did not see that coming and they didn’t like it. But, those were the rules & they let it play out.
Can you imagine how bad T’Challah would have been in his fight against Killmonger if he hadn’t fought M’Baku? I mean he still lost but at least he had been there before. The people honored the results including Okoyo not because she had any affection for Killmonger but because the rule of law matters. And when T’Challah re-emerged, he came back talking about the rules and why the battle was not over.
Now, I am not saying there needs to be a spear fight in water on the side of a cliff, but whatever process is developed, it needs to involve pre-qualified people battling for the right to lead the society. You need rules on who can engage in that battle and what that battle is. And yes, a successful society is going need to honor the results. Societies with no fair Succession Plan tend to not be successful for long.
#8- Don’t stay insular for too long.
It seems to make sense that for some time Wakanda needed work in silence, if you will. As the world around it was consumed by foreign armies that turned it’s neighbors into slaves on continent and off, it makes sense that it would have no need to let anyone know what it had or what it was doing. Sometimes you need to just shut out the outside world, put your head down & get to work. Wakanda did just that and who can argue that they weren’t much better for it.
But, there was a world out there. One that attacked them, one that murdered their King. They had become so committed to hiding and living their good, elite lives that they ignored the suffering of their neighbors, left one of their own to fend for himself as if he had no family and became afraid of the outside world. It is very easy to convince yourself that you are an advanced genius when you spend all of your time looking in the mirror.
One day the world will come knocking and/or your own people will feel like there has to be more to life than this little insular Utopia. And you will lose your best & brightest (see Nakia) because they don’t want to hide from the world. So, if you must turn inward to get your act together, do it but prepare to re-engage with the outside as soon as possible.
Yes, I geeked all the way out on this one!!! That movie is genius on so many levels & DEEP . . . but completely fun! Thank you Black Panther for bringing gifts that can keep on giving. $1.0 billion and counting! Wakanda Forever!