Since Black Panther’s debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Captain America: Civil War, Black Panther has become one of the most anticipated movies for 2018.
However, Chadwick Boseman, who plays Black Panther, might turn some fans off after an interview with Cnet. The interview was wide ranging. It covered everything from women in technology to education in Africa.
After being asked a question about the accent he uses in the upcoming Black Panther film, Boseman delved into colonialism and education. Here’s what he had this to say:
People think about how race has affected the world. It’s not just in the States. Colonialism is the cousin of slavery. Colonialism in Africa would have it that, in order to be a ruler, his education comes from Europe. I wanted to be completely sure that we didn’t convey that idea because that would be counter to everything that Wakanda is about. It’s supposed to be the most technologically advanced nation on the planet. If it’s supposed to not have been conquered — which means that advancement has happened without colonialism tainting it, poisoning the well of it, without stopping it or disrupting it — then there’s no way he would speak with a European accent.
If I did that, I would be conveying a white supremacist idea of what being educated is and what being royal or presidential is. Because it’s not just about him running around fighting. He’s the ruler of a nation. And if he’s the ruler of a nation, he has to speak to his people. He has to galvanize his people. And there’s no way I could speak to my people, who have never been conquered by Europeans, with a European voice.
The sense of an untainted, isolated nation without outside influence makes a lot of sense. I mean that’s what Wakanda is. It’s a nation just emerging from an extreme form of self-imposed isolation from the rest of the world.
What really caught my eye was the second paragraph. He said something that has been an issue within our communities for almost two generations, “conveying a white supremacist idea of what being educated is.”
Here, I’m torn. On one hand, I understand what he’s trying to say. A ruler from an isolated nation with no contact with the outside world isn’t going to sound like someone from Europe or even from the West at all. They will and have to sound like their own people. But there is another part of me that sees a major flaw in what Chadwick Boseman said. He seems to be conveying the idea that being educated is solely a white affair or that if you speak with a European or Western accent you are contributing to white supremacy. It’s a fear and worry that can lead you down a dangerous rabbit hole. I have seen this type of thinking cause irreparable damage to my own community.
Being from Puerto Rico, an island that is a cultural nexus of European, Native Caribbean, and African cultures, my community uses this fear time and time again as an excuse to avoid becoming educated. It’s an excuse to avoid reading books or studying. It’s an excuse to avoid working hard to lift yourself up through study. You’re told to stop acting white. Hopefully, this isn’t what Chadwick Boseman is alluding to, but it definitely seems that’s what he is saying. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for now.
However, if it is what he is referring to, this type of thinking is wrong. In fact, this thought could actually be used to continue a real white supremacist agenda. Why would you not want people of color to become educated even if their teachers happen to speak like Europeans or if their textbooks are written in a European language?
For that matter, what exactly does Boseman mean when he is referring to European? Europeans are pretty diverse, you’ve got British, Scottish, Irish, Italian, German, French, Belgian, Hungarian, Polish, Swedish, Finnish, and more. I don’t know about you, but those people all have very distinct accents. Even in parts of those countries, they have different accents. What does speaking like a European have anything to do with white supremacy? Are there not non-whites living in European countries?
Boseman’s idea that speaking with a European accent is the agenda of self-destruction.
Personally, I can’t wait to see Black Panther finally make it to the big screen. And Boseman’s acting ability is top notch. He’s showed his talents as Jackie Robinson in 42 and James Brown in Get on Up. Lest we forget his incredible debut in Captain America: Civil War as Black Panther. However, Boseman might want to refrain from calling an entire continent of people white supremacists. It might not help sell the film across the pond.
Marvel’s The Black Panther comes out in a few days after my birthday on February 16th, 2018. Check out the new international trailer here. The film showcases an impressive cast. Chadwick Boseman stars as T’Challa/Black Panther, Michael B. Jorden as Erik Killmonger, Lupita Nyong’o as Nakia, Danai Gurira as Okoye. And legendary actress Angela Bassett as Ramonda.