“On the Blackness of the Panther”

“Many movies made by Hollywood have engaged in thought experiments about Africa. Some, made for American whites, resurrect colonial fantasy (“I once had a farm in Africa”), with the African roles either brutish or naive. Others, made for American blacks, have a goal of uplift, cloaking the African experience with a fictional grandeur. These fantasies, white and black, are always simplifications. There are fifty four African countries. What would it mean to dream with these already-existing countries themselves? What would it mean to dream with Mozambique, Sudan, Togo, or Libya, and think about their politics in all their hectic complexities? What would it look like to use that as a narrative frame, even for works of fiction?…
The nations and cities of Africa, as they are now, are each so consumed with the complexity of being their distinct selves from day to day that they cannot take on the thankless task of also being Hollywood’s “Africa.” African countries have always been in conversation with the world: an isolationist blackness is incoherent and impossible: we already been cosmopolitan. In the modern world, black is as unimaginable without white as white is unimaginable without black. What we are is shaped by the other, for better or worse (for us, mostly worse), but interaction is real. The way out is through. We can’t wish that away, not even as a storytelling fantasy…
against the high gloss white of anti-black America, blackness visible is a relief and a riot. That is something you learn when you learn black. Marvel? Disney? Please. I won’t belabor the obvious. But black visibility, black enthusiasm (in a time of death), black spectatorship, and black skepticism: where we meet is where we meet.”

I found this bit weirdly inspiring — “Those who have to learn black also expand what black can be.”

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