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Best movie I’ve never seen! Jan-Michael defends Afro-centric reaction to Black Panther

“So I have to ask the question: is this a coincidence? And why now? After scrolling through social media and seeing that many people believe that a lot of Trinis only dressed in their African garb for the ‘likes’ and the attention, I’m forced to ask another question. However, this one is directed specifically at those who seem to be outraged by black Trinis whove decided to as it were ‘jump on the train’.

“Are you all equally upset when young ladies decide to go half-naked for the very same ‘likes’ and attention? Or when young fathers neglect their children financially to pop bottles in parties while wearing the costliest shoes and jewelry?”

The following Letter to the Editor, which is critical of social media condemnation of some exuberant Black Panther moviegoers, was submitted to Wired868 by Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team goalkeeper and former Soca Warriors captain Jan-Michael Williams.

Photo: Moviegoers get dressed up for Black Panther.

“Somebody somewhere is depending on you to do what GOD has called you to do.”

There is a lot of hype surrounding the actions of people, particularly African and/or Black people, before and after watching this new film, Black Panther.

Firstly, let me say that I have not yet seen the film, I’ve only seen its effects. And, for me, it is the best movie of my life so far.

There are some Trinis who have missed the importance of the fact that this is the first movie to have a cast of mostly black people who have roles that do not entail being a drug dealer, prostitute, thug, gangster or any of the negative stereotypes the film industry has created for black people from its inception. Apart from the film Blade, which had an African American as its lead actor and maybe two or three other black people, I cannot remember any other films besides black comedic ones with such a strong cast of black people.

So I have to ask the question: is this a coincidence? And why now? After scrolling through social media and seeing that many people believe that a lot of Trinis only dressed in their African garb for the “likes” and the attention, I’m forced to ask another question. However, this one is directed specifically at those who seem to be outraged by black Trinis whove decided to as it were “jump on the train.”

Photo: T’challa (right) squares off with his rival Killmonger in the blockbuster Disney film Black Panther.

Are you all equally upset when young ladies decide to go half-naked for the very same “likes” and attention? Or when young fathers neglect their children financially to pop bottles in parties while wearing the costliest shoes and jewelry?

I was once told that “everyone is free to do as (s)he likes but everyone also HAS to stand the consequences of his/her actions.” It is something I believe. Therefore, I try to focus on running my own race and staying in my own lane. I think sometimes people lose themselves in all the talk and forget that to inspire positive change, you need action.

Music, TV/films and sport break through more barriers than we may think or want to believe. And although these can have both a positive and a negative impact on the masses, it depends mainly on the way they are perceived by individuals.

Let’s take for example “The Gambinos.” For me, it was the name of one of the biggest gangs in PoS. But can anyone tell me where that name originated? A film perhaps? Were there any black actors in that film?

Now, let’s compare that to Black Panther. It’s hard for me to think about anything that could be used in a negative light in a film that has already broken most of the records set in the film industry but that’s because I’m looking through my eyes.

Photo: Moviegoers in Jamaica get ready to watch Black Panther.

Everyone is entitled to have their own opinion, feeling and reaction to what they see, hear, touch and taste. I’m sure that some of you have tried to speak with a Chinese accent after watching those old Kung Fu movies. Some have even engaged in friendly sparring matches to try to reproduce the karate moves. Surely you’ve tried the “Drunken Master”?

If this film provokes a genuine sense of African pride, a deep connection to something truly meaningful yet missing and/or a thirst for more knowledge about our culture, heritage and homeland, then let us please allow it to do its part. If for others, it’s just another fashion event, then so be it. It is not that they are making a mockery of the culture.

Is Jessie Lingard from Manchester United making a mockery of the same culture when he scores the winning goal against Chelsea and celebrates by using gestures from the very same movie? Or is it that you already have a preconceived notion about these Trinis you see dressing up? Are all these people riding the wave or has this movie genuinely struck a chord in some of them?

And the others? I think they deserve the right to live their lives and express themselves as they see fit. Remember that it is he who is without sin who shall cast the first stone.

In my lifetime growing up in my sweet homeland of Trinidad and Tobago, I’ve heard too many times statements like this: “Is only because he/she red-skin that he/she does look nice; if he/she was dark-skin, he/she would be ugly.”

Photo: Tobagonian actor Winston Duke played the role of M’baku in Disney’s hit movie, Black Panther.

Can anyone translate this for me? All I know for sure is that it made me feel very ugly to be black. When I compare that to the beauty I’ve seen in these very same dark-skinned people embracing their skin colour, dressing up in some of the most vibrant and colourful clothing I have ever seen, it makes me embrace this film as the best in my lifetime.

Mind you, I’ve travelled to more than 60 countries on all four continents. The limited knowledge I have of slavery is that “they” took everything from us; “they” stripped us of our names, our religion, our spirituality, our languages, our clothes, our culture and “they” gave us theirs. This, my friends, is not just my opinion; this is historical fact!

So why do we seem to not love ourselves and always fight one another? Maybe this letter from Lord Macaulay to the British Parliament, dated 2 Feb, 1835, may have some part of the answer. It reads thus:

“I have travelled across the length and breadth of Africa and I have not seen one such person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such high moral values, people of such calibre that I do not think we would ever conquer this country unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage. And, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture. For if the Africans think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native culture, and they will become what we want them [to be], a truly dominated nation.”

Photo: An African land grab.
(Copyright Polyp)

What you have just read are just the thoughts and emotions of someone who seeks knowledge and better understanding in life. I only ask us to think for ourselves, to always seek knowledge and to continue to grow mentally and spiritually if we are to rebuild our nation and to retake it from the hands of the criminal element that is causing havoc in what was once sweet, sweet T&T.

I also ask those of you who have always been “awake” to do your part to ensure that those awakened by the Black Panther film to never go back to sleep!

Remember: “Somebody somewhere is depending on YOU to do what GOD has called you to do.”

About Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor
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185 comments

  1. Harry Monohar! Just shut up! On ur ID wat it has! Fulling out ah form when ask wat race up put T & T! Dàm STUPID

  2. It’s just about having fun and being a good sport, what’s wrong with that. steups.. dont over thing the thing nah man

  3. I actually love the designs and artwork done by those who dressed in their African garb to go see the movie..i haven’t seen it yet but I plan to…my sis saw it and loved it…we need to come together and support our ppl ….will be going to see it on Saturday

  4. I think this is absolutely wonderful, if we don’t take pride in our culture, our heritage and our people, we can’t expect those in other parts of the world to.

  5. Why wait for something to happen good to wear traditional clothes. That is why Islamic clothes is a style.

  6. What yuh mean by “black Trinis” jumping on the train? 90 percent of trinis black yunno!

  7. Thing is I am not into this kinda thing. I don’t dress up for Star Wars/Trek or any other movie. So it’s not a race thing for me. But I really don’t see why people can’t dress up if they choose to. So many negative things to be focusing on right now. People dressing in African wear (something African people do everyday without negative comments from other people) is not something that deserves negativity.

  8. Aren’t we all black once we’re born in the Caribbean..?

  9. Because we are da CHOOSEN ONES! Believe itt or NOT! THEY KNOWS! But we are just trying to be like dem & shitting up da young generation mind!

  10. but even for holloween I see these people dress up as all sorts of things and nobody bats an eye

  11. People must be proud of their heritage.

  12. I am so proud of my African Brothers abd sisters for coming out in their African Outfits,whether is for a minute,an Hour they still show that they are African brothers and Sisters and coming together four a Special Occasion what’s bothers me is when all the other Ethnic groups dress up in their wear for their Occasion you don’t hear or see no funny faces but the time is African wear you hear a lot of talk.I am black and proud of all of you who came out in those beautiful AFRICAN Wear and do it for Our Emanicipation Day I take my Grandchildren to it

    • They have to learn Africa is just not for a day it is for life we need more occasions like these to bring about the full consciousness of our people letting them know how powerful and successful our people are and the contributions they have made to the world at large,let’s take this as rekindling the positivity of our people in a positive way especially the younger ones coming up giving them a positive and successful future, not a way of life in drugs and criminal activity.HOTEP.

  13. Why all the fuss?Life is short….love it,enjoy it,revel in it…everything in this movie is beautiful.so different and positive.

  14. For Bond films ppl wear black tie, for the sex and the city movie lots of ladies got glammed up. People are silly.

  15. Very well written, apart from the Lord Macaulay quotation , which is an internet hoax

  16. I was born in Trinidad, I am not Indian nor African, to be an African or Indian you have to be born in that country so ask me a out Trinidad not Africa or India , who wants to know about those places could sponcer a holiday with all expences paid & some spending money.

  17. It’s not just about this movie. ANYTHING that black people get really, REALLY pumped over, it could be a singer, politician, artform, fashion statement, ANYTHING and suddenly there is “concern”. Joy or pain or anger in any exceeding amounts must be policed. It’s why white fans of a hockey or football team can mash up the whole neighbourhood celebrating and riot police are never in sight. But just get ten black people, silently and peacefully holding up signs and you will see the WHOLE GUARD come out.

  18. Regulating black emotions 101. Certain groups get to go bonkers with elation and fan worship but whenever black people get a little too pumped, people get NERVOUS!