After the release of Black Panther I thought, “Finally, this is our movie, a movie for black people.”
After I said this, someone asked me why it has to be a movie for black people. Why can’t everyone be excited for it? Why am I segregating?
Then, a couple of weeks ago, a few people weren’t happy with my piece about how Adele de la Torre’s position is of particular importance for women of color. Someone asked me why she can’t be an important symbol for all women. Are all women not important?
These responses aren’t new to me. Since the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, I’ve been met with similar responses by people who dislike the idea of being left out of anything — even if it involves a matter that doesn’t impact them.
My response is always: “No, I said what I said.”
When I say black people, I mean black people, not all people.
When I say women of color, I mean women of color, not all women.
When I say black women, I mean black women, not all women, black women.
And it’s exhausting to have to consistently explain to white people why it’s not always about them.
The reason Black Panther is our movie is because many of us know our childhood would have been much different had we been given positive characters to look up to and identify with during our youth — a time when our self esteem is constantly fluctuating and we look to the big screen to reaffirm it.
I know my childhood would’ve been different if I saw images similar to that of Nakia and Ramonda, strong black women who take pride in their natural hair and dark skin, and are capable of defending an entire country. Perhaps, I would’ve learned to appreciate myself much sooner.
So when I say this is movie is for black people, I mean it wholeheartedly. It’s a huge deal for a group of people who are just now getting figures to identify with. It’s a big deal for the many young black girls and boys who can now actually see themselves as superheroes.
When I say de la Torre’s position will be of significant importance to women of color, I mean it.
Not only in terms of representation, where girls and women now have a successful Latina figure to look up to, but also because her experiences as a woman of color which will lend her a perspective into the often ignored and silenced experiences of woman of color on college campuses. The intersection of sexism and racism make women of color more susceptible to sexual violence, so de la Torre’s position is symbolic.
People of color should be able to celebrate these meaningful symbols that we are so rarely given, without opposition.
Let us have something for once.