Love Lessons taught by Black Panther

SPOILER ALERT!!! Don’t read any further if you don’t want a good spoiler!



Like virtually every other Black person in America, this weekend, I went to see Black Panther. I’d been excited about it for a full nine months – I highly respect Disney and Marvel’s marketing prowess to have kept me in eager anticipation (and active prayer that the world wouldn’t end before) seeing this movie.

Since I don’t want to make commentary that’s already been made so well (like this!!!), I’ll say that my favorite part was during the big battle scene, when W’Kabi, astride his rhino, considers attacking his own love, Okoye. When she turns her spear on him, he asks, “Would you really consider killing me?” She says, “For Wakanda, absolutely.” (I’ve only seen the movie once, so I’m paraphrasing, work with me.) He looks around, sees all of these beautiful Black men fighting these beautiful Black women. And he surrenders to her.

My body temperature skyrocketed, so I had to unzip my hoodie before I exploded in a hotflash. I also fought back tears.

Much of what I have written about my whole life has been about relationships, as I’ve spent almost my whole life wondering why so many turn out so badly. I wanted to know what made them work, and what exactly it was that made things so sour. The answer to all of these questions is, “People.”

People come into relationships with their own baggage, emotional scars passed from previous generations that have never been resolved. And they don’t figure out how to resolve them, either because they don’t want to or because they don’t think that they can be.

As preachy and 90s-self-help-Oprah as it sounds, I found that insecurity is the cause of almost all relationship problems and that self-love helps to resolve lots of them. When I studied healthy relationships, I saw two people who stood tall on their own and taller with the other person. Neither needed validation from the other. Each was secure within him or herself and the other person was just an added bonus to a good life already been lived.

I tried to model my own relationships after this model. In one short-lived affair, it didn’t work out so well because the other person was ragingly insecure. But in the next, it seemed to go well, and it’s been going well for almost 9 years.

That scene in Black Panther showed a man surrendering his insecurities for the woman and the country he loved. He seemed to realize that his ego or pride—the most common costumes for insecurity—wouldn’t actually solve the problem, which was that a despot (even if he did have some good ideas) had taken over their country. If more men could be so bold and focused on the common goal, the world would be a very different and so much better place.

Of course, the same goes for women. I think a lot of our issues are like a hall of mirrors, one bouncing off the other, bouncing off the other, bouncing off the other. If one image stopped, maybe the whole mirror would shatter, and all we would have is reality, with no choice but to love what we saw in front of us, not our expectations.

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