The Great Awokening: On Black Panther, Black Identity & The Black Christian
Black Panther did well to bring Black representation to the big screen, and I was delighted to see men and women who look like me playing roles that weren’t of the “thug” or “slave” variety. Black despondence nor dejection were on the menu for this film, and I am 100% here for it. I’m also here for the diversity this film brings to media and entertainment. As far as film productions go, Black Panther was quality all around, and I sincerely believe it is Oscar-worthy. It really was THAT good!
But as other moviegoers across social media have shared their feedback on the film these past few days, the hype has reached a level that has caused me concern for my people – my Family in Christ.
BLACK PANTHER + BLACK IDENTITY
As a black woman with natural hair and a two-time graduate of an HBCU, I totally get what the hub-bub is with this film for the Black community. Most of us have no clue from where in Africa we originated and many of us continue to struggle with our American identity. Despite being 20+ generations into the American experience, many African-Americans still have an ache in their hearts for the “motherland” – their “true home”, and they resent not having any ties to it. Wakanda is now that tie. I get why some still haven’t healed and feel they never will heal from the wounds of slavery. For this reason, Killmonger, the film’s antagonist, has been widely empathized. It matters not that no one alive today was ever a slave. A great majority (if not all) Blacks resent the fact slavery occurred in the first place, and on some levels, they actually feel they are owed a debt on behalf of those who came before them. I get why some feel the need to vigorously resist oppression – whether overt or systemic, real or imagined. So Black Panther is serving as a resistance in itself. It’s irrelevant that we are privileged enough to resist simply by enjoying a night out at the movies. And I totally get why after centuries of being told we are inferior, unattractive, and incapable there is a temptation to use this film to boastfully shout, ‘Black IS, indeed, beautiful!’ For a lot of African-Americans, as well as for many Blacks across the world, Black Panther is MORE than a movie, because even on the most minute level it validates their identity – even if the characters are fictional. I get it.
But what I don’t get is why some Black Christians are in these streets behaving as if they don’t have an even greater identity requiring our utmost representation. And I’m extremely troubled that somehow, some way, there are supposedly solid Believers who have been quoting MORE in the last few days a film based on a comic book than they’ve quoted the Word of God in years! How does one resonate with and feel the need to shout forth the words of the Black Panther more than they do the words of the Lion of Judah?
Black pride and the Black experience are such triggers that my perspective in this piece is likely going to put me at odds with some. I can see the comments now. “Sis, just let us be great!” “Why you tryna kill black boy joy/black girl magic?”
But I don’t want to take anything “great” or joyful away from anyone – in fact, that’s what I’m trying to ensure everyone keeps! And while I don’t rock with “magic”, I will say I’m not trying to rob anyone of their resilience, beauty, or achievements. What I’m cautioning Black Christians against is idolatry and apostasy. What I’m attempting to say is “see that you don’t forget the Lord your God.”
BLACK IDENTITY + THE BLACK CHRISTIAN
It doesn’t take much perusing online to see that folks are building full on movements around Black Panther as if T’Challa (or perhaps even Killmonger) is the Messiah and Wakanda is the promised land! And when I see Black Believers carrying on in such a way, I can’t help but ask: What IS you doing my dear brothas and sistahs…in Christ? Surely you already know we’re beautiful, capable, competent, and overcomers, for in Christ we are the bonafide children of the Most High God (Galatians 3:26; Psalm 139:14)! If God’s Word be true (it is) and His ways faithful (they are), by His grace born again Black Christians should be delivered from the psychological scars, emotional bitterness and un-forgiveness that slavery stamped on the souls of Black folk. This isn’t to say that we no longer have compassion for or understand the pain that comes with the harsh realities of Black history and the Black experience. It’s saying that as we walk in the Spirit, we are no longer led by our emotions nor are we in bondage to the will of our flesh. After all, whom the Son sets free is free, indeed (John 8:34-36)! Even as we speak against racism, it seems one with the mind of Christ would address it not via radical revolutions or movements based on the philosophies of men, but simply via the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the love of God (2 Colossians 2:8)! It would seem that one rooted in Christ is aware that no matter from what land in the earth our ethnic people come, we know that this earth is passing away and that we now belong to a multi-ethnic family unified in Christ, who is preparing for us an eternal home in our Father’s house (Romans 1:5; Matthew 28:19; Revelation 5:9).
The born again Believer in Christ is a renewed man with a transformed mind and a regenerated heart. By default we are no longer a dejected, downtrodden people who seek retaliation or believe the world owes us anything, because we’ve come to realize the world itself is broken AND broke! And we don’t need to desperately clamor to comic book characters – or anything else outside of Christ, for that matter – to self-actualize or draw our hope. Yet at this rate, it seems many would sooner place their faith in the fictional T’Challa’s reappearance from the “dead” than they would the resurrection of our Lord! For some it seems Wakanda, a fictional nation, is more real and attainable than God’s promise of the New Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:4; Revelation 21).
What a stumbling block this film is shaping up to be for those weak in faith or off their guard!
THE BLACK CHRISTIAN + THE GREAT AWOKENING
Given the massive, emotionally-charged response many are having to Black Panther, it is clear this film is something the world believes it needs. But as we exercise our Christian liberty to partake in a little entertainment, we must keep in mind that while we are in the world, we’re not of it. We must be vigilant in resisting the sway of the world as it romanticizes and idolizes “woke culture” as the end-all of our existence. As a matter of fact, the greatest irony with “wokeness” is when it is tested against God’s Word, it exposes its proponents as being sound asleep. They truly believe their beef is with flesh and blood, and they assume mere human effort and self-will are enough to impact lasting change and right past wrongs. How you gonna “fight the power” if the Lord isn’t your heavy (Psalm 127:1)? And how will you defeat the “powers that be” when they BE empowered by the “prince of the air” (satan, himself) who can only be engaged spiritually (Ephesians 6)?
Satan, our true enemy, has been at the helm of all that ails and causes confusion in society since the beginning (John 8:44; 10:10). And he actually found a comfortable place among the “woke” community, who by and large despise Christ because they’ve been deceived to believe He, His people and His message are to blame for the Black struggle. Referring to Christ as “white Jesus”, the most wokest of the woke have been quick to mock His Black followers as they question how we can take to a faith they claim the “the white man” created to oppress and enslave us. Meanwhile, Jesus is a Jew and had more experience living in and around Africa than they probably ever will (Matthew 2; Romans 9:5). And while they deem Christianity “the white man’s religion”, our faith actually originated and has deep roots in the Middle East and parts of Africa – being in those regions for centuries upon centuries well before the “colonizers” would dock their first ship. Yet, the woke movement’s philosophies have long been antagonistic toward the true Gospel. Even as Christians have joined the great awokening, they’ve watered down the Gospel and diverted from our primary mission to preach it to redeem lost souls for the Kingdom of God. They’ve instead compromised by creating “another Jesus” and “another Gospel”, making our Savior the liberator of Blacks from white oppression rather than the liberator of the world from sin (2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:8). Black liberation theology is what they call it…and it’s wholly demonic.
I SAID ALL OF THIS TO SAY
Truth be told, it was Jesus who first told His people to “stay woke” – but it wasn’t for the sake of our culture, it was for the sake of our faith. We are to “watch and pray” that we are able to stand during the hour of trial (the tribulation) and we must be sober-minded that we resist our true enemy, the devil, who is prowling around like a roaring lion seeking whom he can devour. We are repeatedly forewarned to remain vigilant and stay ready for Christ’s imminent return (Matthew 26:40-41; Luke 21:36; 1 Peter 5:8; Revelation 16:15). But because many professed Believers are still asleep, giving into their flesh, and failing to spiritually discern a thing, I perceive Black Panther, this little old comic book movie, is gaining a level of momentum that could cause many to stumble away from the truth and wander into fables (2 Timothy 4:4).
We are in the last days, loves. Or did those 2 hours and 15 minutes in that dark theater indoctrinate you to forget that? We must take care to always be on guard that NO MAN deceives us, not even if he or she comes in the form of a rich shade of melanin. Please don’t get it twisted. As much as I think Black Panther was well-directed, well-produced, well-acted, and well-cast, I was still scanning the film for the antichrist spirit, and it was indeed present – namely during T’challa’s United Nations address, when he calls for the world to live as “one tribe” and announces his plan to “build bridges, not barriers”. That all sounds wonderful in theory, but it also sounds a lot like the “one world government/religion” beast system Christians have been warned to resist (Revelation 13; 14:9-12; 16; 17). Jesus did NOT come to bring peace on earth, but division by simply declaring the truth (Matthew 10:34-39). He’s dividing the truth from the lie, light from darkness, and He’ll one day separate His “sheep” from the world’s “goats” (Matthew 25:31-46). The only unity He seeks is the unity of His Believers (who come from every nation/ethnicity) in the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:3-6).
So watch yourselves, brothers and sisters. Don’t get caught up in the hype that you forget who and Whose you truly are, for our Father is indeed King! But y’all know good and well His name ain’t T’Chaka!
Black Panther was great entertainment – that I can admit. But that’s the most it is or will ever be – for on the last day it will be burned up right along with the rest of the world’s works (2 Peter 3:10). Build your hope on things eternal.
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