black panther christopher lebron argues W r i t i n g
1st essay –
Christopher Lebron argues that the film can be interpreted as problematic – or even racist – because the Black characters it represents in a positive, idealized way are the fictional African nobles from Wakanda’s utopian society, whereas the Black character it represents very negatively, as the villain, is Killmonger, the ‘real’ Black American character from the hood. In addition, the only other American characer – that of the white CIA agent Ross – is represented very favorably by comparison to his Black counterpart, Killmonger, which Lebron argues adds to the film’s very problematic or regressive take on race.
Your assignment is to argue why or to what extent you agree or disagree with Lebron’s critique, and to substantiate your argument through analysis and interpretation of the film, focusing on the characters of Killmonger and Ross.
“In 2018—in a world home to both the Movement for Black Lives and a president who identifies white supremacists as fine people—we are given a movie about black empowerment where the only redeemed blacks are African nobles. They safeguard virtue and goodness against the threat not of white Americans or Europeans, but a black American man, the most dangerous person in the world.
Even in a comic-book movie, black American men are relegated to the lowest rung of political regard. So low that the sole white leading character in the movie, the CIA operative Everett Ross (Martin Freeman), gets to be a hero who helps save Wakanda. A white man who trades in secrets and deception is given a better turn than a black man whose father was murdered by his own family and who is left by family and nation to languish in poverty. That’s racist.”
argue why you agree or disagree with Lebron’s reading of the film’s narrative as ideologically problematic, or even racist. Your answer should be based specifically (though not exclusively) on the analysis and interpretation of the character development of Killmonger and Ross.