Why Wakanda Matters: What Black Panther Reveals About Psychology, Identity, and Communication

Smart Pop. Feb. 2021. 288p. ed. by Sheena C. Howard. ISBN 9781950665419. pap. $14.95. FILM
Drawing on extensive work in the field of Black comics and media studies, filmmaker Howard (communication, Rider Univ.; Encyclopedia of Black Comics) has compiled an illuminating collection of essays on Marvel’s Black Panther by scholars in various fields. Some pieces describe the film’s connection to Black political consciousness and notions of Black solidarity. The most fascinating essays consider the movie’s references to African cultural and religious practices. “Wakanda, Pan-Afrikanism, and the Afrikana Worldview: A Representation of the New Afrikana Nation” discusses numerous spiritual and cultural elements of Wakanda and posits that they symbolize the Black diaspora’s collective potential. Other works turn a more critical eye toward the film; “Black Radical Thought as Pathology in Black Panther” argues that Black Panther unfairly demonizes radical Black activism in its treatment of villain Erik “Killmonger” Stevens.
VERDICT While academic in nature, these essays are accessible to general readers. Howard’s work is a solid addition to media studies sections in both public and academic libraries.
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