#WakandaForever Part II: The Wonderful Women of Wakanda
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY! The Wakandan women highlight the dynamic power and presence of Black women across the diaspora. There was never a second in Black Panther that I questioned the integral role the Black female characters played in the lives of their Black male counterparts (I even give props to the nameless girlfriend/accomplice of Erik "Killmonger" Stevens. Yes, she was recklessly involved with a sociopathic megalomaniac but still, no arguments; she held him down until her murder). My favorite moments in the movie centered or discussed the women of Wakanda. They were everything Black female representation needs and is.
Everyone loves the scene-stealer, played by Letitia Wright. Seeing Shuri's character made me feel like I was watching my fiercely intelligent baby sister on the silver screen. She was written and depicted as innovative, vibrant, and hilarious. Shuri could easily be a contributing writer for this new woke phase of Teen Vogue, specializing in explaining technology, of course.
Without spotlighting T'Challa's role too much in this ode to Black women, I commend him and his father for entrusting the future of Wakanda to her. In 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul told Timothy, "Do not let anyone despise your youth"; and I feel like that's the exact same energy T'Challa put forth to his younger sister, both in Wakanda and in Oakland. Shuri's brilliance radiated throughout the entire movie and shows itself as the main link for connecting past and future Marvel movies.
If you watched this movie and didn't fall in love with Okoye, you deserve to be W'Kabi's tribute on the receiving end of her spear. Okoye is the woman I grew up witnessing African women to be. Okoye's strength didn't leave us awe-struck because she is some supernatural warrior. No, it's the fact that we can see what she values through her character. Her self-discipline, personal convictions, and loyalty to Wakanda and her army are what makes her so formidable. Okoye isn't just confident; Okoye is powerful. She represents the determination and consistency of the Black Woman.
Okoye's dynamic with the men in her life is #goals. She exudes this incredible balance of unconditional respect and unwavering resolve. She ever lost a sense of herself depending on the man she was engaging with. Was it T'Challa, who she had no qualms or hesitation holding him accountable and protected? Or N'Jadaka (Killmonger) who, though she despised, she committed herself to her lifelong duty to serve...until she had to no more? Or Agent Ross, who she spared no opportunity to assert that he is beneath her because he is both White and Male? Or even W'Kabi, her love, who she was unmoved to kill for the sake of her beloved Wakanda? Okoye held it down for herself and the women under her command. Okoye held it down for all the Black women who are bosses in every right and sense of the word. Without apology. Without question.
While, rightfully so, everyone is going up for Shuri and Okoye, Nakia is my Black woman. She is Black Feminism in human form. I love how Nakia was determined to work alone to make a difference, but expressed in various ways that she couldn't do it alone. Most non-comics people don't know that she was a former Dora Milaje and became a Wakandan War Dog as a spy in order to do more for the country and the world than she was allowed to do in the army. Nakia is compassionate and self-assured. She is a woman I work every day of my life to be: so committed to human rights it makes people uncomfortable...even the people I love.
Nakia is the middle ground between T'Challa and N'Jadaka's opposing perspectives on Wakanda. She is the compromise and the
Um...I refuse to speak ill of a Black icon...even though she was complicit in playing a role that made the second half of my 3rd grade life, and every new introduction, hell.
A group of Black women who fight and kill on sight. On site. What's more badass than that? It's cool, I'll wait.