Monthly Archives: March 2018

Don’t Freeze: Love and Vulnerability in Black Panther

I remember in the trailer for Black Panther watching the scene over and over again where Okoye tells T’challa before he descends to from the ship, not to “freeze.” And of course he says, “I never freeze” before putting on his helmet falling through a hatch release into the night.

I kept wondering it meant. In what situation would a superhero freeze or let his guard down? I couldn’t imagine the scenario and I really wanted to know.

As a bonafide movie lover, I have a collection of moments in films that I love and adore and among them is the moment when a man looks at the woman he loves, the moment when he is just openly gazing at her and time stops no matter what is happening. I love to see his openness, his vulnerability, his total surrender. But then of course he needs to be equally capable of getting it together again and carrying on his duties. LOL!

When Black Panther descends on a van of girls captured by the Boko Haram in order to save Nakia who is embedded among them on an undercover rescue mission, the aforementioned freezing begins. But not before he and Nakia stealthily dispatch of the armed men.  Then, thinking they are no longer under threat he faces her and says…hi. His mask is on so you can’t see his eyes but you can tell that he’s no longer in Black Panther mode. Okoye then appears and kills a man that neither or aware of because they’re too busy sharing a moment. LOL!

To be immediately engaged with both the vulnerability and strength of Black Panther in this initial and pivotal scene was just one of hundreds of ways in which the movie has shattered previous notions about what it has meant to be a “superhero.”

There is also no Clark Kent/Superman identity crisis conflict to deal with here. Among his people, T’challa does not hide as the Black Panther. Black Panther is not his secret identity. It is who he is. So when he looks at Nakia and freezes as Black Panther in the midst of battle or as King T’challa walking leisurely through the marketplace with her, it’s all the same man.

With Nakia, T’Challa is able to safely express his doubts about being the kind of king he feels he should be and he entrusts all the women around him, his mother, sister, general with the responsibility to support, inform, guide, strategist, and help him protect and defend Wakanda. They are all uniquely necessary and equally committed to this mission.

T’Challa’s vulnerability is his strength and he never seems to be at odds with it. I have never seen that treated with such balance and normative reverence in a superhero movie before. To feel the burden of so many of the oppressive and conditioned narratives we’re used to in movies; Whiteness, the male gaze, hyper sexuality, and more,  lift away for just a few hours is indescribably liberating. When I first saw Black Panther, I froze as well. And after the third time, time still stopped for me. And each time I see it, I come back to the world slightly different.


The Shifting of Happy Places

Just a few years ago, when I was fully immersed in a doll collection hobby, knitting and crocheting and generally making things by hand, Flickr was one of my primary happy place hubs. I went there to share photos, and to be social with other collectors, crafters and photographers. There were many women there whose feeds I looked forward to seeing each day but there were a special handful that for unique reasons really gave me life. Over the years of messaging, commenting, trading custom tips, sending dolls and items back and forth, I noticed that the activity of some of my faves started to peter out, to fizzle.

Life changes.

One of my fave photographers became pregnant and her gorgeous photographs which incorporated scenes from the nature preserve she lived nearby stopped showing up. One of my favorite, not to mention the only Black Blythe custom crafters, who gifted me one of my most cherished dolls just stopped activity altogether with no explanation. And the one friend that I made through the hobby (like met in person and actually got to know beyond dolls) fell in love, moved to Chicago, got married, and just recently had to move back to LA where she was born for a job while her husband is still working and living in Chicago, which I know has been heartbreaking for her. Needless to say, her doll feed activity has also been non-existent.

Life changes.

Happy places change.

I  hope that happy exist in new places for these women whose work I was so pleased and inspired to view on a weekly basis. Our lives are so much more than what what we choose to share on social media. Real, deep and intimate connections, within and with others require more than just logging in.

These days, due to business, the season (I’m so done with Winter or whatever this is) and location, my happy places have shifted as well. I packed up a bunch of my dolls almost a year ago because I just wasn’t feeling it. I even gave a bunch away during a series of Spring decluttering spurts. It felt good.

Currently, my happy places include make-up, skincare, wig play and social media/technology. I’ve immersed myself in some more successfully than others. But for the most part, I’m involved in using, crafting, learning about and being invested in these things on a daily basis. Who knows what my happy places will be in the next few years. I’m blessed that I have happy places at all. Because look at the world right now. We need all the happy we have access to.

Peace out.