The Racial Mountain is still relevant today

In writer and journalist Morgan Jerkins’ article, “Why do you say you’re black?”,  Jerkins writes about her response to an older man who asked her why she calls herself black and not human. The man’s comment arose from his biases and conceptions about black people.  His racist beliefs about black people did not correspond with the accomplished, intelligent woman before him. How can he claim that race is not important when Jerkins’ race and beliefs are the first things that come up in the conversation? This reminded me of Langston Hughes’, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain.” Jerkins and Hughes both explain why it is pertinent that black folks identify as black writers, artists, etc.

What came to mind when I read this Jerkins’ article was that white people have the privilege to be able to ignore race as much as they want. They are able to ignore race because they benefit from their whiteness at the expense of non-white people. They are not stopped by the police for no reason at all. Police stops will likely not have fatal results. They are not denied housing because of their race. The list of subtle and overt instances of racism that they do not have to experience goes on. In this way, they are able to disregard their own privilege as well as people of color’s lack of privilege.

Jerkins says how she used to think her race was unimportant. After the news story of Trayvon Martin, Jerkins could no longer ignore her black identity. She eloquently recounts her prior feelings about her identity by saying, “I used to believe that being both black and a woman could be extracted from my humanity like teeth weaseled from the gums”. Her metaphor describes how blackness is integral to her identity. Her blackness is something to be proud of. She learned of the necessity of acknowledging and owning her identity to battle against Hughes’ concept of the racial mountain. By owning her identity, Jerkins overturns racist stereotypes.

Having more black artists provides varying representations of black people, and empowers future black artists, intellectuals, leaders, etc.  Then the black identity can be considered a source of strength and power.


Black Panther is here for Blacks, Africans, and the Entire Diaspora

The upcoming release of the Marvel movie, Black Panther, is a long overdue milestone not just for comics turn into movies, but black representation on cinema.  The last black superhero to show up on movie screens was Wesley Snipes’s 1998 vampire slaying hero Blade.  It was groundbreaking to see a superhero whose melanin was dark and his strength could kill blood thirsty vampire with a swing of his sword .  Snipes’ Blade gave young black children someone to idolize that looked like them and made them believe the possibility of also appearing on the big screens.

On February 16th, when Black Panther releases, a new generation will witness for the first time a superhero who resembles themselves.  Black Panther is a a title given to the king of Wakanda, a fictional country in Africa . The movie brings an Afrofuturism vision of what it would look like if an African country wasn’t colonized by European colonizers.  Just like in actual African countries,  Wakanda possesses a valuable resource called vibranium that is heavily sought after. It was used to make Wakanda the most technologically advanced society in the world.

The cast will be filled with black actors and actresses and will feature a variety of African culture in it.  This type of representation is unheard of in comic book movies because the typical superhero is a white man or woman from the American cities like New York or a fictional one like Metropolis. This movie breaks down white culture’s grasp on blackness as Jamil Smith says, “films that depict a reality where whiteness isn’t the default have been ghettoized, marketed largely to audiences of color as niche entertainment, instead of as part of the mainstream”.  This film is important for the next generation as it focuses on identity, incorporates black representation,  shows the beauty of African culture, and invites its audience to a world that many like myself, is mesmerized by.

The Revolutionary Power of Black Panther