“It’s the blackest thing ever,” Lamar Gibson says. “You must go immediately.”
It’s Monday, so our tickets will be rolled into the record-setting numbers that Black Panther set on this opening weekend, a big-budget action flick that — finally! — treats black folks with some respect.
Lamar is the second person in the last 24 hours to have expressed this sentiment to me, the other being one of the brothers of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity after their scholarship music competition.
“We all went together last night,” he told me. All 48 of them.
Gibson says he went yesterday and Irving Allen has already seen it twice, but still they bounce as we approach the theater in the midafternoon. And though I’m a legit Black Panther fan since the 1980s, when he was an auxiliary member of the Fantastic Four, I know this one isn’t about me — somewhere between Black Twitter, where I sometimes lurk but do not comment, and “Black Dynamite,” which I enjoy but find it best never to talk about, ever.
The Black Panther movie has become a movement, and not just because it gets it right. It’s a flexing of economic muscle by the black community, both a statement and warning in these trying times, and a cultural touchstone that Lamar has likened, only somewhat jokingly, to the election of President Barack Obama in 2008.
“It’s just the blackest thing ever,” he says again.
They try to explain it to me afterwards: The clothes, the fighting styles, the funky streets of the city, the Wakanda handshake, the family drama, the token white guys — all of it, they assured me, is for black people to love. That’s what resonated with my friends, so powerfully I could feel it in the theater, in the dark.
“I can even identify with the villain,” Allen says. “You were kinda rooting for him — he had a good point.”
In Wakanda, all viewpoints are treated with respect.