Wakanda Forever: Part 5 – Strong Women
I’ll be honest, after seeing #BlackPanther with my wife, I was ready to buy her a spear and the Dora Milaje warrior outfit! Shaving her hair is optional, but the elite warriors surely made an impression.
SOMEBODY HELP ME!
There are no “damsels in distress” in this movie. It was refreshing to see women acting from a position of strength rather than weakness. Many of these female characters did what we would stereotypically reserve for men. This movie demonstrated what many of us already know, but rarely see celebrated on the big screen: a woman can be emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually strong! A woman can have honor and loyalty to self, family, nation and world. And not just any woman… but a Black woman. And not only were they strong in the film, but the men in their lives had no major problems deferring to their counsel!
(As when T’Challa spoke with Nakia about a major revelation he had discovered. She encouraged him to not allow the past to define him and to be the man he knows he can be.)
Women who are generals, warriors, national leaders, technology specialists, queens, princesses, keepers of tradition and spies working for the betterment of society. We need to see more of this instead of the influx of images of women who are objectified in mysogonistic stereotypes. Our sons and daughters need to see more of this. So do men and women. I am excited about the possibilities that this type of representation will open up! Girls and women are just as capable of doing great things in life as boys and men.
A SEED OF TRUTH
There is an African proverb: “If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a girl, you educate an entire nation.”
This is true, not just in Africa, but around the world. The first time I heard this proverb was in 2005 at a week long education conference for girls in Ghana, West Africa. These girls were from remote villages that didn’t even have electricity. Many of them were not allowed to go to school, but had to stay home to help take care of the family while their brothers went to school.
The group I was a part of, African Initiative Mission Foundation (AIM), had previously talked with the parents and leaders of the community, requesting for their girls to be allowed to be educated. This was a poor farming community, which barely had funds to cover school uniforms, supplies and fees. AIM helped to cover these expenses and the community agreed to let their girls attend school.
Months later, AIM returned to do a week long girls’ conference. Over 200 girls were allowed to come to this inaugural conference where they were taught reading fundamentals, math, health and hygiene, physical education, arts & crafts, and musical education for the week. They also received 3 meals each day. Most of them were accustomed to having only 1 meal a day.
The majority of our teachers were Black women from America. They worked with the local female teachers. This made a strong impression on the girls. By the end of the week, these girls were talking about their dreams. Some wanted to be nurses and doctors. A few wanted to be lawyers. Some wanted to be journalists. A girl even wanted to be a pilot. One young lady proudly stood and said that she wanted to be president of Ghana. It was this teenage girl who shared the African proverb with all of us who were present.
What amazed me was that all of these girls wanted to pursue their dreams in order to help better their community and their nation. They were living proof of the African proverb.
THE POWER OF A STRONG WOMAN
I have been surrounded by strong women my entire life: my mother, grandmother, godmothers, god-sisters, aunts, cousins, teachers, friends, professors, bosses, colleagues, my wife. But there are others who grew up differently… others we know who encountered images of women who were broken, despised and marginalized. Yet, this movie sheds light on what could be… on the way things should be. Women can be strong. Women are strong. And men and women should be able to work together.
As a man, I firmly believe what this movie demonstrates: “The strongest of men are those who are not threatened by the strength of the women in their lives.”
I know this is just a movie, but I hope it will help create an environment for change, growth and possibility in the hearts and minds of the viewers. Let me know what you think.
-Allen Paul Weaver III-