Ugh. Could the racializing of everything please stop now?
A New York Times article that was originally titled, ‘Who’s Allowed to Wear a Black Panther Mask?‘ was inexplicably changed to, ‘The Many Meanings of Black Panther’s Mask‘.
The author, Kwame Opam, was quite proud of his piece and promoted it on social media.
In it, Opam examines what ‘conversations’ need to happen before a child puts on a Black Panther costume.
It opens with the creators of Black Panther disagreeing with the basic premise that Opam presents later in the article.
In an interview with BuzzFeed News in the fall, Sterling K. Brown, a star of “Black Panther,” thrilled at the prospect of children, black and white, dressing up as the title character. “This Halloween, the first time I see a little kid, a white kid, dressed up as Black Panther, I’m taking a picture,” he said. “You better believe I’m taking a picture, because that’s the crossover.”
Chadwick Boseman, who plays Black Panther in the film, had already witnessed said crossover, he said in the same interview: “I’ve seen little white kids dressed up as T’Challa. I’ve seen pictures, and I’ve seen it in person.”
Following those reasonable comments, Opam breathlessly writes — and, yes, I’m sure he did write it ‘breathlessly’:
Black Panther costumes — whether the character’s full raiment or just his claws and mask — are on toy store shelves (and, of course, on Amazon) in anticipation of the film’s Feb. 16 release. At best, the character get-ups speak to the enthusiastic embrace of a black superhero. At worst, they could be perceived as an unwitting form of cultural appropriation, which has in recent years become a subject of freighted discourse.
What does that dual significance mean for children? And, perhaps more urgently, what does it mean for the parents who will buy the costumes for them?
The majority of the people quoted in Opam’s piece believe that it’s just fine for white kids to dress up as Black Panther, and even see it as a good thing for race relations.
Many parents are split on how Black Panther’s blackness should figure into their children’s relationship to the character. Some argue that placing racial boundaries around expressions of fandom is unnecessary.
“I’m actually wondering now what it might be like for that parent who’s not of color if his kid comes home and says, ‘I want to dress up like Black Panther,’” said Katrina Jones, 39, the director of human resources at Vimeo. “When I look at it, I see no reason why a kid who’s not black can’t dress like Black Panther. Just like our kid who’s not white dresses up like Captain America. I think the beautiful thing about comics is they do transcend race in a lot of ways.”
Others agree with the premise that it’s a form of ‘cultural appropriation’.
“I’m conflicted,” said Evan Narcisse, a senior writer for the website io9. He is completing “Rise of the Black Panther,” a six-part comic series for Marvel that traces the character’s early history. He has tried to explain some of that history to his 7-year-old daughter, but without delving too deeply into complex concepts like Western imperialism, which she may struggle to grasp.
“You want that white kid to be able to think that he can dress up in a Black Panther costume, because, to that kid, there’s no difference between Captain America and Black Panther,” Mr. Narcisse, 45, said. But, he added, it also involves “trying to explain what is special about T’Challa and Wakanda without racism. And it’s like, ‘Can’t do it.’ I couldn’t do it.”
“White people have the privilege of not constantly being reminded of their race in the United States, where white is the majority, whereas as a black person you don’t,” Ms. Vittrup said. She believes that parents in general, and white parents in particular, are reluctant to talk about race with young children. When they do, they often miss the chance to talk about inequality, even though research supports the idea that children develop an awareness of race and difference at a very young age.
White people have the privilege of not constantly being reminded of their race in the United States.
Not anymore, apparently.
“Kids are not colorblind,” she said. “There’s a lot of structural inequality in our society, and kids are noticing that. By not mentioning it, by not talking about it, we’re essentially preserving the status quo.”
Source: New York Times (archived)
Don’t we all do this? We all discuss systemic racism and Black Panther. We all discuss The Patriarchy and White Beauty Standards when our 4-year old daughter wants to be a Disney princess for Halloween. If she’s (unfortunately) a white girl, we make sure that she doesn’t want to be Mulan, Pocahontas, Jasmine, Tiana or Moana because that would be ‘cultural appropriation’.
No? You don’t do that?
Then it must just be the crap-for-brains leftists that make every freaking thing about race.
Watch the much-hyped trailer for Black Panther:
Oh, and by the way, there seems to be no outcry with the new movie based on the popular book series, A Wrinkle In Time that has replaced white characters with black ones. Critics say that the books don’t ‘clearly describe’ the characters as white, and that’s just not true. I just read this one with my daughter, and the main character is described as having ‘mousy brown hair’ and her mother is described as having ‘flaming red hair and creamy skin.’ Both in the movie have been replaced with black actors.
But, hey, that’s not ‘cultural appropriation’, that’s ‘diversity in casting.’
This Clash Editor has a comment and a question for Opam…
The new Black Panther movie looks pretty awesome. It should do well at the box office simply because it seems to be a particularly spectacular looking film with a compelling storyline.
Why isn’t that enough? Why racialize everything?
I guess we’re also not supposed to mention that Wakanda is a black ethnostate that has highly controlled borders and is hostile to non-citizens…
Ben Shapiro discusses Black Panther in a reasonable (and pretty funny) way:
If these folks really wanted to be ‘woke’ they could’ve made T’Challa Arabian… or maybe Chinese. Or would that not be appropriate?
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