Can the Migrant Speak? Ethnic Accents in Black Panther and the Quadruple Consciousness of African Immigrants in the United States.

Author:Ndaita, Peter
Position:Critical essay

African immigrants in the United States have to continue counting the lenses through which they view themselves in their adopted home, drawing from and expanding on W. E. Du Bois's idea of double consciousness. For those coming from predominantly black or brown cultures and populations, most immigrants of African descent realize that their skin color becomes a point of contact in how they are viewed and judged. Their former lives were shaped largely by tribalism and nationalism but now they have to factor in their skin color as an everyday determinant of how they act and live.

The impact of myth in society can never be overrated. (1) Unfortunately, the twentieth century saw a global availability of Western myth aided by the invention of television, film and internet. This proliferation led to the wrongly propagated stereotype of "the West saves the rest." For many years, children growing up in Africa envisioned heroes as mostly costumed white men. This being the case, the recent box office success of Black Panther has been a welcome reprieve. The film not only allows black viewers to see themselves in the protagonist on screen, it generates various social and political issues worthy of our attention. Key among them is the interaction of African Americans and Africans and, in light of Black Panther, the quadruple consciousness of black African immigrants in the US.

Prior to recently migrating from Africa, many view the United States as an opportunity to fulfill their aspirations for financial prosperity and self-actualization thanks to the United States' genius in advertisement. (2) However, upon arrival they realize that yes, you can scrap a living in the country, but it has a complex relationship with dark-skinned people. Soon, it dawns upon them that the words of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois still ring true. Analyzing the predicament of being black in America, Du Bois observed that one exists in "a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others." (3) This measuring of oneself through the lens of whiteness and blackness became popularly known in the early twentieth century as double consciousness. However, in the twenty-first century, Brent Edwards examined this idea and interjected, "Just two [lenses], Dr. Du Bois, we are forced to ask...

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