Alexandria Samuel

Apr 23, 2020

8 min read

Week 14 Black Panther

Session One Monday April 20, 2020 6 pm

  1. Identify three places in the movie where one could argue that at that precise moment T’Challa becomes a leader. What is the best argument for calling him a leader at this point in the movie? In which of your three moments do you believe T’Challa is truly a leader? What is the process that has brought him to this point of being a leader?

T’Challa had been training to be a leader his whole life. He became a leader when he was thrust into the role of King after the untimely death of his father, King T’Chaka. He automatically becomes king. Now, that does not necessarily make him a good leader, but a leader, but a leader nonetheless. Another moment where one can argue that T’Challa becomes a leader is when he refuses to stay with his father in the ancestral plane and comes back and defeats Killmonger. To me, this really proved he was a leader because he was selfless. He loved his father dearly. To stop fighting for his life was in fact the easy choice. He had been shamed by losing the challenge against his cousin. Instead of going the easy route he chose his people. He chose to right the wrong he felt the previous kings did to the world. He went back because he knew Wakanda was in the wrong hands. It was philonthropia, the love of his people that made him choose to fight. Another moment where one might say T’Challa becomes a leader is when he opens the Wakanda outreach center. At that moment he is doing more than just maintaining Wakanda. He is thinking about the greater good. He was able to take the advice of his enemy, his cousin, who tried to kill him. A good leader can admit when they are wrong and try to correct their mistakes.

2. What kind of leader is T’Challa compared to the others we have studied in this course?

T’Challa is similar to Telemachus, the son of a great king. Although T’Challa grew up with his father, they are similar in the way that they both grow into being leaders. They were both in the shadows of great leaders and there was great expectations placed on them to lead their people. They both went through trials to emerge victorious and be heroes to their people. T’Challa is also similar to Bruce from The Normal Heart in that he is thrust in the role of being a leader and he tries to play by the rules. Similar to Bruce, T’Challa struggles with pushing the envelope. He wants to do what he knows is right but he does not want to risk hurting his own people or undoing what his father and other leaders had going. An example of Bruce doing that is not wanting to put the name of the organization on the things they mail out as to not out the people. T’Challa does not want to ‘out’ Wakanda to the world. He fears that Wakanda will lose their way of life.

3. Does Killmonger ever become a leader? If so, when? What is his process of becoming a leader like compared to T’Challa’s (compare especially his initiation to become king of Wakanda)?

Yes, Killmonger does become a leader but he is a really bad one. It is hard to pinpoint exactly when he becomes a leader. His process was similar to T’Challa in that he grew up learning about the history of Wakanda and admiring her beauty. Killmonger prepared to be a leader by murdering people all over the world. T’Challa trained formally and through a royal process. His process to becoming king was not given, he took it. He still went through the same process of taking the heart shaped herb so he could go to the ancestral plane.

4. What other characters in the movie could be considered leaders — and why?

Nakia, Akoye, and Shuri are the leaders in my eyes. As a woman, their leadership stands out to me. You’re probably tired of me talking about it in journals already but my trip to Egypt taught me a lot about women in leadership roles. One of my professors that I went with, Dr. Watkins teaches Black Women in America here at Howard. On the trip she lectured about the roles of women in Egypt. We talked about how women in ancient Africa were very much a part of leadership. In most depictions of great male pharaohs and gods, there is a women by their side. Women were highly revered and respected. In the movie, the women were there to council and to lead the army. They were warriors. Although the women were not on the throne, their roles did not appear to be gendered. They spoke up, they fought for their country. Shuri led by making technological advancements and in a sense running Wakanda. Akoye led by literally fighting for Wakanda. She led her army and was even willing to kill her love. She was willing to make sacrifices. Nakia led by being selfless. She could have been a queen but she chose to go out and help people outside of Wakanda.

5. Is king T’Chaka a good mentor/role model or a bad one?

T’Chaka is a good role model. Yes, he makes mistakes. However, he was a good leader and father. He did what he thought was best and not just for his own glory. He did what he could for his country and did what he thought was the safest option for maintaining Wakanda’s prosperity and way of life.

6. The Black Panther concludes with T’Challa’s plan to share technological information with the rest of the world (Shuri will oversee this) as well as “social outreach” (Nakia will oversee this). What do you believe T’Challa/Nakia has in mind by “social outreach”? Specifically, what is it about leadership, culture, or political organization that you believe Wakanda can share to improve the world?

I think he has unity in mind. The people of Wakanda care for one another and think about the greater good. Their rituals and customs keep them together. They have deep rooted traditions that everyone believes in and participates in. I think that he plans to have Nakia teach them about the Wakanda way of life, that means taking part in traditional practices and taking pride in history. I think part of being great is believing that you are great and understanding the power you hold. In most places around the world, black and brown people are marginalized. Many of them lack knowledge of history and like Marcus Garvey said, that is like a tree without roots.

Session Two April 22, 2020 5pm

I think a major aspect of becoming a leader often times includes having to make decisions that may not align with the people that you love and the people that care about you. I think a major part of my development as of late has been my decision to come to Howard. I knew it was the best thing for me even though everyone else didn’t. Coming here was one of the hardest decisions I ever made but it helped develop me tremendously. In this way I compare myself to Cyrus (I don’t think I am as great a leader of him yet, btw) who took an opportunity to develop himself further by exploring a new place and learning their customs. This experience broadened his horizons and made him the leader he became. I liken my experience to his.

When it was time to apply for college, no one really advocated for me to go to an HBCU, despite the fact that my ancestors were proud graduates. I think that while my family valued the history of HBCUs, they preferred that I attend a school that in their eyes, held more weight after graduation. It was a very difficult choice for me to make. I had scholarships to Loyola Marymount, UC Davis, San Diego State, San Luis Obispo and Howard. While the palm trees and volleyball courts of the PWIs were calling my name, Howard was tugging on my heart strings. I wanted to have the opportunity to formally learn from Black people for the first time. I wanted to experience the Howard hype. HU-what was it that I was about to know? I had to find out. In the spirit of being transparent, I got here, and I wished I had picked the palm trees and volleyball courts. These were not the type of negroes that I was used to. I really hated it. I wanted to go home and hang out with the BSU at LMU and call it a day. Coming to class is what actually saved me. I had Dr. Tarik for Black Diaspora and I said “oh… this is it.” I became an Afro-American studies minor because I just loved sitting in those classes. It was like therapy. I would hear Remember the Time in Freshman Seminar or listen to A. Peter Bailey talk about Malcolm X or I would go sit in Dr. Watkins class, and know that coming here was the right choice, despite the million things that Howard did completely backwards that week. It was in these classes that I developed a new sense of identity, a new way of how I viewed the world. There is a before Howard Alex and an after Howard Alex, because I am forever changed. This experience made me understand the importance of trusting my gut, of sticking to something even when the waters are rough. I cannot imagine having quit and going somewhere else. The lessons that I learned initial misery were valuable and I came out on the other side much better. Sometimes leaders have to do what they feel is right, even if it goes against popular opinion. An example of this is how T’Challa went against the long standing rule that Wakanda remain hidden. He made a bold decision and wound up helping people all over the world.

Leadership Groups Sunday, April 19. 2020 12 pm

Ella has been helping her mom make a schedule so that everyone in her house can participate. It can be challenging having a lot of people in house with no breaks. This quarantine is teaching people how to work with one another, how to really understand family and get to know them better.

Me: I have been working on trying to be organized with my work and other things I have to do. I participated in the virtual Black college expo where I served as a representative for Howard. I was able to convince a few people to apply. I shared my experiences with high school students and offered advice. I offered my contact information and a few people hit me up and told me I really helped them and that they were thinking of applying.

Next week I want to work even more about organizing myself and planning for the future as I will have even more time once school ends.