Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Is a Love Letter to Haiti

A report by Mark Millien for CBR. Here is an expert. Follow this link for the complete article.

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Ryan Coogler, a visionary director who continues his ascension, is explicit in demonstrating the psychological importance of Haiti to the structure of the film in a variety of ways. At the outset, when Wakandan outposts are marked for theft, it is interesting that the soldiers perpetrating the crime are French. Not only do they speak the language during their raid, but it is also made clear in the subsequent meeting of global leaders that the French government is behind the attack. It begins a subtle set of references that emphasize France’s direct relationship to Haiti specifically and the colonial attitude of entitlement toward an independent nation’s resources regardless of treaty or propriety.

When Nakia is eventually introduced, embodied in an authentically emotional performance by Lupita Nyong’o, she is seen as a citizen of Haiti where she has used her expertise as a catalyst for education and empowerment. The scenes are not the brutal tableaus of poverty that are typically connected to the island country but ones of colorful pride and resourcefulness. The embattled Queen Ramonda is not visiting, as monarchs often do, under the auspices of charity but in the role of a secret royal who is impressed with the beauty of her surroundings. The portrayals throughout are devoid of pity, patronization or condescension but are instead meted out with vibrancy and elegance.

During the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever‘s powerful post-credit scene, where T’Challa’s namesake is introduced, it is cemented that not only does his son bear the name of Haiti’s Toussaint Louverture, the general who transformed the fledgling revolt into a revolution, but it is also the seat wherein the prince of Wakanda is being raised. Haiti is his home and will forever be a part of his identity. This marriage of the fictional African empire and the real-world nation where Black independence was won creates a powerful symbolic avatar in the form of this young boy. Wakanda thrived in self-isolation while Haiti was banished from the socio-economic tapestry as punishment for the crime of self-actualization. Coogler’s ode to this resonant dichotomy plays out beautifully on screen, shedding light on a shadowed history of oppression by reveling in the pride of a historically maligned people. Denied their place in history, Haitians, in all the promise of Wakanda, are now taking their place as the heirs of kings and queens in their own right. A place long their due, if only on the silver screen.

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