Words by Kelechi Ehenulo
Hollywood has been long defined by the world history it derives from, often told from a white lens which celebrates the achievements of prominent leaders while downplaying the experiences of People Of Colour (POC).
For Black women, their portrayal is nothing but stereotypical: slaves (Antebellum), mammy figures (Gone With The Wind), the Black best friend (The Devil Wears Prada), the mystical advice giver (Ghost), or an angry Black woman (Don’t Worry Darling).
The commonality shared between those stereotypes is the subservience to other characters – their existence echoing through the lives of others without agency to be seen as anything else. Because of this, their stories are silenced, dismissed, or erased from the cultural sphere.
Director Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther therefore is a monumental film, a powerful testament where history, myths, and stereotypes about the African diaspora are rejected, deconstructed and reimagined with an empowered purpose – and nothing comes as more heartfelt and sincere than the Black female contingent in Wakanda.
The feminist agency here is one of unapologetic fierceness and resilience, celebrating Black womanhood and Black female identity not bound to white saviour exploits. They’re not relegated as peripheral characters, rendered invisible by Hollywood’s lack of imagination or racial biases.
Coogler’s film puts Black women front and centre, and it does so by elevating the possibilities of what they can be seen as.
In the latest edition of our free digital magazine The Lowdown, we look at how the women of Wakanda changed Hollywood forever by breaking down the stereotypes.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever releases in cinemas on 11th November.