Yes, I like many people saw Black Panther and I absolutely loved it. What I didn’t know was how much Black Panther would change me. It stirred up something of not only Black excellence but also Black Geek/Nerdom.
Growing up in the suburbs, I gravitated to video games or made up games that were similar to acting out a dungeons and dragon story in which we went on adventures. Video games suited me because I could go on these interactive adventures myself and in essence I could be a hero with powers different from sports games or puzzle games. Thus, it makes sense why I was invested in JRPGs and adventure games. I enjoyed escaping the confines of the world where I didn’t have to make sense of certain things. Life wasn’t too hard but I’ve had anxiety and bouts of depression for awhile now so escapism falls in and out of my life. I realized that some subtle moments may have also been to deal with being biracial, but either way I embraced being a nerd and have only in the past year or so felt like I could be around Black people again.
Being Black in America or even the world is a huge challenge in of itself. When you add other stigmas it becomes difficult. Homosexuality, Transgender, Bisexuality are all difficult, but some are other moments like enjoying rock or punk music or video games or sci-fi literature. And it’s strange because we created so much of it and the culture but around the 80s/90s we became to shun to move steeply into a gangsta rap mindset which was definitely reactive the terrible Reagan era 80s. However, we weren’t all a stereotype and even those in it had layers. As such, I related more to white suburban kids growing up than Black kids because we often did meet as my parents were focused on success and my dad didn’t help diversify certain things even though he helped me be a Black man. He was a geek too but we didn’t always talk about it. We both geeked on Babylon 5, Star Trek, and some other moments but I left the cowboys fandom to him. Still I loved it but there were so many people in those worlds I couldn’t relate to unless I got lucky. Babylon 5’s doctor, Jordi LaForge, beating the World Cup with team Nigeria in an old Fifa game or reading the Afrofuturistic, Zimbabwe, thriller novel The Ear, The Eye and the Arm.
All of those moments I felt whole, like myself, but I also felt like I made no sense to my peers. To anyone white, that couldn’t relate to the Blackness. To the few Black people I knew, they couldn’t relate to my geekiness. Other ethnic groups varied, some Chinese friends I had were cool and so were some of my Mexican soccer teammates, but that was maybe one or two the entire time. It didn’t get better in high school since I tried to be the stereotype and wind up with nothing or in college when Black people thought I was out of my mind for not being a stereotype. After college, I only found some peace with kinky Black folks as my time in TFA had almost no Black people. People at my work though were out of my age range so we didn’t relate that well about anything but I learned about old Southern Black ways.
Fast-forward to NYC and I have it more in moments here and there, but not entirely.
However, Black Panther revitalized that. I’m having so much trouble accepting I have to live in a world with colonizers. I’m trying to make sense of it without being so prejudiced to white people, but it is so hard because I felt so comfortable just being a Black/Pan-African geek/nerd. I’ve been researching African history for teaching but also for my own knowledge in learning how many ancient kingdoms we have that we never learned for some reason. I’ve also been learning how few films and tv there are that embrace Black excellence or nerdom. There are some good documentaries on us, but there’s only so much Black trauma I can take especially if I don’t see us winning.
So at the moment I’m really struggling because I feel wrong a bit for just wanting to live in a world of sci-fi with African pride and no white people. Is that so wrong? I don’t know but there will be a lot for therapy and just my raging mind right now.