Wakanda Forever: Part 8 – We Are One Tribe
If you left as soon as the credits started rolling at the end of #BlackPanther, then you missed two additional scenes which help to set up Avengers: Infinity War, which releases in May. The first additional scene, which will be talked about in this post is of the Wakandan delegation visiting the United Nations.
King T’Challa, Nakia, Okoye and Ayo, take the stage in front of a packed auditorium of eager participants. T’Challa speaks about opening Wakanda up to the world. Here is part of what he says:
“Wakanda will no longer watch from the shadows. We can not. We must not. We will work to be an example of how we, as brothers and sisters on this earth, should treat each other. Now, more than ever, the illusions of division threaten our very existence. We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe.”
AN EVOLUTION OF MEANING
An interesting thing has happened to the rallying cry, “Wakanda Forever!” At the beginning of the film, it reflects the insular mindset of the kingdom. It reflects the closing off of borders and the self-advancement of the nation’s citizens while the rest of the world faces turmoils on their own – even while Wakanda has the tools and resources to be of great help to so many. However, by the end of the film, this term has grown into something else entirely because the mindset of the king and others has changed.
“Wakanda Forever!” now is about helping Wakanda AND the world. It is about a shared humanity where the only race is the HUMAN RACE. This in no way means that ethnic and cultural identity / heritage is erased (or whitewashed). But rather, it is about celebrating our uniqueness, diversity and what we can bring to the world. It is about seeing each other as brothers and sisters of earth, not just of only neighborhoods, towns, cities, states and countries. (Think about those extreme sports fans from opposing teams who fight over a game.) It’s about seeing through the illusions of division. It’s about realizing, as T’Challa says, that the truth is we are more alike than we are different. “Wakanda Forever!” becomes about building bridges instead of erecting barriers.
A MAJOR QUESTION
A major question on T’Challa’s mind during the film is, HOW can Wakanda help others while not losing its own identity and resources in the process? Not knowing the answer was part of the reason why Wakanda kept their borders closed for so long. The fear of a lost identity is very real. So is the fear of losing hard-earned resources through another’s manipulation or outright brute force.
It took a conversation with Nakia, who he trusts and loves immensely, to get him to consider different options. She believed Wakanda was strong enough to help others while still continuing to build itself up. It also took T’Challa having to squarely face Killmonger in combat to realize how the lie of a father and the mistakes of a “closed bordered past” helped to create the monster Erik had become.
What do you believe? I think everyone at some point wonders how they can help others who are in need, while still being able to build up their own lives and the lives of their loved ones. Often people think, If I help someone else, I won’t have enough to help myself. Even the Bible speaks to this issue when it states, “Don’t just be concerned about your own interests, but also the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4). If we see ourselves as completely separate from each other, then we will continue to be warring “tribes” fighting for resources, when there are actually enough to go around for everyone.
Our communities will fall apart if we remain divided. But if we can learn to help each other, we can all thrive. And I don’t just mean only black or white people or any other ethnic group. We must be the example for ALL people and be willing to extend the olive branch to those who would receive it. (And we wouldn’t know who would receive it unless we at least give everyone a chance to do so.)
It’s interesting that when a person is trapped in a burning building or in the rubble after an earthquake (or some other crisis situation) nobody cares what skin color their rescuer has. They don’t care if the person who saves them is rich or poor. They don’t even care if the person is a man or a woman.
(Just ask the white police officer in Baton Rouge, Louisiana who was losing a wrestling match with another white man on the side of the road. The man was resisting arrest and probably would have overpowered the officer if it wasn’t for the 56 year old black grandmother who saw the commotion, called 911 and then got out of her car and jumped on the assailant’s back and helped wrestle him to the ground. And when the assailant went for the officer’s gun, the grandmother helped the officer twist his arm away from it! Thanks to her decisive and compassionate action, no one died in that altercation.)
No. All a person in crisis knows is that they are in desperate need and another human being has reached into the situation and managed to pull them out alive! But why does this phenomenon only happen in a crisis? Why not in everyday life?
I’M WITH T’CHALLA
I’m with T’Challa. We are sisters and brothers on this earth. We do need to begin to see each other as one tribe. This doesn’t mean that we can’t work to help our own communities where people look like us. (It’s like being on an airplane when it loses cabin pressure and the oxygen masks come down. You always put the mask over your face first, so you are in a better position to help someone who needs it.) Wherever there is underrepresentation then we must step in and help our own ethnic group. If no one else will assist then we must. But we can’t say to others who may not look like us, “I’ve got mine, you’ve got to go get yours on your own.” This will only lead to more problems in the long run.
WHAT THIS MEANS TO ME
“Wakanda Forever!”, to me, means celebrating a truthful and wholistic representation of people of African descent. It means celebrating who I am as an African American and not being ashamed of where my people come from. It means celebrating the lives of those who share my skin color because the environment in America often does not do so. It means working to see similarities rather than only differences in other ethnic communities.
“Wakanda Forever!”, means building myself up so that I’m in a position to help others thrive. It means teaching others to do the same. It means knowing I have something of value to offer those in my sphere of influence; and knowing that others have something of value which I can learn from as well.
And finally, based on my Christian faith, “Wakanda Forever!” provides a glimpse of what could be and what ultimately will be when Jesus Christ returns. Because only then, when evil is vanquished, sin is eradicated, deep pains are healed and tears are wiped away will we truly and fully see each other as sisters and brothers in the same Family of God, and we will then have the peace and utopia all of us have been dreaming of our entire lives. “Wakanda Forever!” speaks a foretaste of what’s to come. And it declares that we all should continue to strive for its advancement in our everyday lives… one person at a time.
There will be people who oppose this notion of Wakanda – where the continent of Africa and its people can be equals at the table of the world. They will refuse the olive branch of peace. There will be those who will choose the road of manipulation, coercion and terrorism (like the weapons dealer in the film, Ulysses Klaue) rather than walk the road of mutual respect. There will be some who will declare that their idea of utopia is a world without certain ethnic groups. These will seek to build barriers instead of bridges.
Even so, let us not let the opposition we will face along the way keep us from working to have “life imitate art.” Because the art right now is beautiful.
Let me know what you think. #WakandaForever
-Allen Paul Weaver III-