Belonging: The Struggle of Two Worlds and Identity.

Author:Forry, Diana
Position:Critical essay
 
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The Black Panther((1)) presented the world with a renewed and unrivaled source of power and strength for the Black community and its supporters. (2) "Wakanda Forever" proved to be a rallying cry of solidarity as King T'Challa stood tall and proud, but fair, as a true leader of a powerful African nation. Though it is T'Challa's struggle that is the central storyline of Black Panther, it is only through the presence of Killmonger that the king must truly consider both the past and future of Wakanda. There is an identity crisis throughout the film that is present in T'Challa as he accepts his new role as king, but for Killmonger this struggle is taken a step further as he fights for his place of belonging. The confusion of identity and belonging is strong and unrivaled within Killmonger because he views himself as both Wakandan and African American, yet there is no true place that he calls home. Killmonger is defined by his skin color in America, but in Wakanda, he is treated as an outsider. This journey of discovery, self-identification, belonging, and definition is an uphill battle upon which many embark. (3) As a Hispanic child adopted by a White family, Killmonger's struggle was all too familiar to me.

Erik Killmonger, the unknown cousin and nemesis of T'Challa, makes an attempt to take over the Wakandan throne through brutality, violence, and manipulation. However, Killmonger is not inherently the bad guy of the film. He's simply human. Killmonger's actions against T'Challa are the burdens of anger, despair, and abandonment that forged his battle for identity and belonging between Wakanda and America. (4)

My identity was also similarly rooted. Growing up, there was no hiding that I didn't belong within the world I had learned to call home as child. The majority of my family was blonde-haired and blue-eyed--the epitome of what had once been the foundation of the American dream--and my dark skin and jet black hair made me stick out like a sore thumb. However, I wasn't always aware of my color or difference. It wasn't until first grade, when a racial slur was spit angrily on the soccer field, that I was forced to fully understand that I was different from my family and the majority of my peers. The church I grew up in, the school that I attended with the label Mennonite, my family, my friends--they were all predominantly White. I wasn't. I had always been physically aware of this difference but, until that moment, I had simply been Diana and...

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