Heavy is the Head… Black Panther and Questions of Leadership

“Heavy is the head that wears the crown…”

-Shakespeare

“You are a good man and it’s hard for a good man to be a King.”

-Black Panther

When any leader shows their weaknesses to their people, there is always the possibility that people will take advantage, take for granted, incite mutiny, unrest, upheaval.  These chances are equally possible when a leader presents themselves as infallible, mysterious, Godlike, using fear and intimidation, but not as much. Because people are ruled so effectively by their own internal fears that external demonstrations from a ruling force usually keep a majority of us in check for life. Take a look around you.

So what to do then if you are a “good” person to earn the respect of people you love and for whom you earn the right to not only rule over but the responsibility to protect, provide for, inspire, motivate and so much more? These are also in many ways the questions of a new parent, a boss, or a person striving to master themselves effectively in order to navigate the world and all it’s obstacles in a balanced and optimally positive way towards a goal which will ultimately serve others.

It’s never easy, because hell can really seem to be other people, starting first and foremost with the hell inside yourself, which you may not even be aware of. Or which you try to avoid while trying to manage a staff, a community, a business, a family, a nation or all of the above at once.

marvel-black-panther-against-erik

I really love that during the challenges to earn the right to be King, T’Challa ritually has the power of the Black Panther taken away from him, so that he is not unfairly matched against his opponents, who are not, I believe presented as enemies, but as worthy challengers, those whom his people would serve just as loyally as they would T’Challa should he ever be defeated. There was a fairness there that moved me each time I saw it. He was humbled in front of his people, but still more than formidable against his opponents. His power as a Black Panther was granted by his lineage but as a King it was granted by his physical, mental and psychological strength. But i admit, there was that small part in me whenever he drank from the essence that takes away his power that made me scared of what might happen to him at that point.

On the ancestral plane, when he speaks to his father, his father tells him, “You are a good man and it’s hard for a good man to be a King.” In these words lay truths, problems, complexities and secrets, that his father had hoped would never come back to haunt T’Challa. Nakia tells him, “You get to chose the kind of king you want to be.” And because of the ways in which T’Challa’s father had chosen to rule when he was king, because of violent and negligent choices he made, T’Challa and his people are confronted by great violence and pain in the form of their own abandoned son, Killmonger.

Djala

I’ve always shied away from leadership, thinking myself  unworthy of the challenge but the truth is, I have never wanted to take on what I felt were the limits and rigidity of responsibility, discipline, order, and a giving up of freedom. But freedom, as I’ve been learning, is not free at all.

As humans in this world, our innate tendencies are motivated at the core by love, and we fluctuate between using control or being overwhelmed with pleasing people and over identifying with what others think to get it. This is why I believe self love and self trust, which I struggle with often, are integral to the ability to lead effectively.

In this Drumpf administration, tyranny, insanity, an inability to get beyond one’s crippling insecurities and a preoccupation with self interest over humanity are the order of each day in our government and sadly, but not surprisingly, the man, though deeply unstable, remains firmly fixed in the position of leader of America because fear is an effective tool in keeping a majority of people under control.

The surprising thing I’m learning lately though, is that sometimes people have to learn from a direct and decisive institution of sternness and discipline and order before they can understand that they might actually have a good leader, a good parent, a good boss. And when you are resistant to leading yourself, leadership from others is always going to feel like a kind of penalty. But there is a difference between loving discipline and abusive control. And sometimes it takes an insane man in power for people to rise up and define what kind of leadership they require. That’s not easy either. We have only our past as a reference to build towards the future and our tendency as humans to repeat the worst parts of  history is great. But when I look at Black Panther, I see that that we as Black people have just as much inclination to reach back into our past and manifest greatness today. And it moves me beyond words.

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