Dr. Shakes talk on Black Panther

Last week, I went to a talk by Professor Shakes, titled African Futures/ American Legacies: an Africana Perspective on Marvel’s Black Panther and Luke Cage. One of the things that stood out to me during the talk was when she spoke about the differences between the protagonist T’Challa and the antagonist Killmonger.  Throughout the movie, T’Challa is a king with diplomatic responsibilities and gives the political perspectives on what they should be doing and how to run Wakanda. On the other hand, Killmonger is giving the more aggressive military perspective on how they should be handling the world from Wakandas point of view. Killmonger and T’Challa have very different ideas on how Wakanda should be run an that is one of the main sources of conflict in the movie.

Throughout the movie, the audience sees that Killmonger wants to start a race war and wants Wakanda to provide the weapons for the war. Professor Shakes talked about how a lot of people were upset that we did not get to see any part of the race war because the plan was never successful in the movie. In a lot of other Marvel movies, the villains plans start to succeed before the hero comes in and saves the day but it Black Panther, we didn’t see any of the race war. Professor Shakes was saying that Marvel has to be aware of their audience. It would be too  intense and political for them to put a race war in a superhero movie. Even though many people would love to see it, there are also many people that would be upset by seeing it. I think that it was a tough call whether or not Marvel should have included a brief scene of a race war. It definitely would upset some people but sometimes it is okay to upset people and push the boundaries in movies like Black Panther.

Sen. Kamala Harris supports the idea reparations.

Democratic candidate for the upcoming 2020 election, Kamala Harris recently voiced her opinions on reparations on the popular Breakfast Club podcast based in New York.  When asked where she stood on the idea of reparations, Harris responded by saying that incidents like the Shelby County v. Holder, have actually been a step back for the black community. She believes that there is a disparity in where blacks and whites start off in the working world. Sen. Harris, would want to give the disenfranchised, a step up in the game by putting money into areas where rent is high. Putting funds into the education could also give a much needed boost to those who want an education. Talk of reparations have gone on, yet nothing has been passed in congress yet. Kamala Harris may be the one to change that.

Exploitation of African’s by Western powers.

This article talks about how African soldiers who fought along side the British were treated unfairly. I was very surprised by the influence of African soldiers on the world war . The British took advantage of their numerous African colonies. The article mentions about half a million black African soldiers  who fought alongside their British counterparts were exploited . These  African soldiers risked their lives and families to help fight a course . The question even arises if it was a worthy course from their perspective .Another shocking revelation by Prof Timothy Parsons, one of the world’s leading authorities on Britain’s east African army who talked about how “The colonial regime placed a different value on African life than it did on European life.” This really shocked me in the sense that even when they fought for the same course ,one side was seen to be less important to the other .The black soldiers were  paid up to three times less than their white counterparts. Another shocking revelation was how these black soldiers were even put in the firing line , even those that were non-combatants . The lives of these black soldiers are not any better now ,and some of  them are living in poverty . The British government was accused of burying documents in their archives which reveal how the government systematically discriminated against African soldiers. This article just exemplifies the exploitation  of African resources by western powers through out History .The western powers see Africans as a way of obtaining free labor and exploiting their human capital.


Year of Return to Ghana 2019

Ghana is considered to be a major country where millions of Africans were taken from during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade in the 15th century, and sent to the Americas. After 400 years since the slave trade ended, Ghana looks to acknowledge the year 2019 as the year to connect with people of the African Diaspora by inviting them back home to celebrate a series of events happening throughout the year.

From Black History Month in February, to  Emancipation Day in August, Ghanaians aim at bringing a number of people of African descent from North America, The Caribbean, South America and Europe to come together to engage in these various activities throughout the year. This event will also give the country an opportunity to showcase what it has, especially within the tourism industry. Ghana is rich in culture and major tourist sites. As such, professionals involved in the year of return could make use of this opportunity by both benefitting from this in a lucrative sense as well as giving their fellow members of the diaspora knowledge and insights into these major tourist sites.

The country hopes this will not become a short-term event but will serve as the beginning of a connection that will grow and become stronger than what it already is.



The Addition of New African Immigrants and their Interactions between Native African American Citizens

Are the new African immigrants arriving in Ohio capable of integrating successfully with their native African American neighbors? For African Americans being born in America, their history is closely tied to that of slavery and segregation, two major institutionalized practices that they would have had to overcome to be recognized as equals in society. These were major breakthroughs for the African community but with the New African Immigrants Commission, now African Americans have more completion with foreign immigrants. These challenges that come with their integration include language barriers,  cultural differences, and other such concerning problems that would hamper relations.

Of course, African relations in Columbus, Ohio aren’t as hostile as they are in New York City from the show, Luke Cage.  Despite the competition, both immigrant and native African American populations are working together to help build better communities. Liberians in Columbus Inc., formed to aide the local Liberians that fled their homes and livelihoods in Liberia to help settle down in Columbus. Other such aid programs have started up to aide struggling immigrants as well with the help of native and immigrant peoples. It seems like African immigrants and native African American populations can, despite serious communication and culture differences,  create and sustain a positive environment for all African peoples.


African Futures, American Legacies: An Africana Perspective on Marvel’s Black Panther and Luke Cage

I attended the lecture given by Professor Shakes last Thursday. The title of the lecture was “African Futures, American Legacies: An Africana Perspective on Marvel’s Black Panther and Luke Cage.” The lecture focused on, as the title implies, the film Black Panther, which I have seen, and the Netflix Original Luke Cage, which I have not. Throughout the lecture Professor Shakes focused on how the popular culture portrays black people, largely focusing on the characterization from the film and show. I found her characterization very interesting because it was a topic I was not as familiar with.


One of the points that Professor Shakes made was that Black Panther shows what African countries may have been like if not for slavery and colonialism, but Luke Cage shows what it was like because of those factors. I found this interesting because these are two somewhat different representations of black culture but they both come from the same place, that white people largely affected the path and future of African and black culture. Black Panther features a fictional African country which has a huge technological advantages which are hidden from the rest of the world. Luke Cage focuses on warring black families in Harlem. The similarities between the two different portrayals may not have been evident without the comparison coming from Professor Shakes.

She also mentioned how various characters in Black Panther felt different connections to other black people around the world. Some felt the need to provide financial aid to poor people, of any race, while others thought it was better to help only specifically black people and to supply them with weapons so they could start a race war. However, Professor Shakes pointed out that the plot was not allowed to reach that conclusion and perhaps wished it had. She supplied that she thought the creators did not include this in order to maintain their white audience, as they may have been uncomfortable with a race war. I will admit I originally found the topic uncomfortable but as she continued the discussion I understood the merit of what she was saying. Overall, I found her perspective and insight on this topic very interesting and learned a lot from this lecture.

Professor Shakes’ Lecture

Professor Shakes gave an interesting and eye opening lecture this past Thursday. I had seen Black Panther before and knew some of the themes that entailed from the movie, but not to the extent that she had shared. I have not seen Luke Cage so I will keep my focus on Black Panther. I would first like to mention how I thought it was interesting to see how the movie was made by white men, but then black writers took over the story. This changed the way the character and story looked, in order to fit themes regarding past and current issues.

In the movie, Shakes’ describes different characters desribing different ideas and peoples. King T’challa and Shuri  represented the peaceful abolitionist movement for freedom, Killmonger representing the “monster that imperlism and racism created, and Klaw representing the “colonist desire for domination.” After hearing the representations of each of these characters I began to understand why the movie was portrayed the way it was. I believe it was to show previous conflict and oppresion and how to deal with the problem at hand. This movie showed there are different ways of approaching the same issue. Professor Shakes mentioned how some audience wanted T’challa to have a Killmonger mindset. However, the authors took a different turn from that idea.

What this lecture showed me was how popular culture, such as a superhero film, can portray serious issues and the potential solutions to these issues.

Wisconsin Republicans Erase Colin Kaepernick From Resolution Honoring Black Leaders

This week, members of the Wisconsin legislator’s black caucus attempted to pass a resolution honoring African American leaders for Black History Month.  The resolution was set to honor Colin Kaepernick (among others) for his advocacy on police brutality and the injustice towards the black community. However, Wisconsin Republicans lawmakers blocked the resolution on Tuesday, saying that they would not let it pass with Kapernick’s name on the list of honorees. Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke even went as far as saying that Kapernick was left off of the resoution for “obvious reasons” and called him a controversial figure.The Republicans then drafted their own resolution, leaving Kapernick’s name off of the list, offering the new resolution or none at all. The new resolution was ultimately passed leaving many democrats and black caucus leaders unhappy, as it will continue on in the state senate.

David Crowley,  the chairman of the Wisconsin legislators black caucus spoke to reporters about the resolution saying, “You’re telling African-Americans they can’t honor who they feel are the leaders in their community,” and he is exactly right. In fact, Crowley and many other African-American legislators spoke out about that exact point during their debate. Why should a group of white men dictate which African Americans get to be honored for Black History Month? To put it simply, they should not. A group of white men should not get to tell African-Americans who they can celebrate and be proud of in their own communities. This serves as an example of the systematic racism of which America was built on and how ingrained it still is in our society today.




Revie of “The Price For Their Pound of Flesh” by Diana Ramey Berry

In this passage it explains the economic values of slavery, and how slaves were considered commodities to the slave owners. This was due to their involvement in the tobacco, sugar, and cotton trade. This idea of people being property was no question to many slave owners, traders, and just people in the US. Part of the passage that really struck me was when the amount of money that was spent to purchase a slave. An example price for a male could be $610 which is an equivalent to $19,447 in today’s currency. Even though there shouldn’t be a price on a human life, it was a considerable amount of money that was being spent. This means that the slave trade must have been essential to the US economy during this time period because slave owners were making thousands of dollars, and they knew that using slave labor put money in their pockets more than what they spent. A human life that could be traded over and over again for more or less, and could be put to use on a plantation. This idea of commodification was carried throughout most of the US, and it’s terrible to base economic wealth on the lives of innocents, which is something that I found terrible but also interesting.

-Anura Andrea Namachchivaya

Lincoln’s Legacy in Suzan Lori-Parks’ Lincoln Plays (Daniel Myers)

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about Abraham Lincoln’s legacy. Part of this is due to the things we’ve been discussing in class, but another part has been my recent entanglement with the work of Suzan Lori-Parks, who has a cycle of plays popularly called the “Lincoln Plays.” These works are, obviously, about Lincoln, but take an incredibly compelling, complex, and revealing angle to his legacy.

The earliest of the Lincoln Plays, The America Play, is an abstract, impressionist take on Lincoln. In it, an African-American grave digger called the “Foundling Father” decides to move West to reconstruct a famous amusement park called “The Great Hole of History” in which he impersonates Abraham Lincoln for amusement park patrons to assassinate over and over every day. All of this is told to us in the past tense by the Foundling Father himself.

In Topdog/Underdog, the more popular of the Lincoln Plays, a similar premise plays out, but in real time. Lincoln and his brother Booth, again both African-American men, live together in an apartment while struggling to make ends meet. Lincoln, who refers to himself as “Link,” has a job at a local arcade as a Lincoln impersonator who, as in The America Play, is shot by guests pretending to be John Wilkes Booth.

There is much more at play in these works, but I would like to focus on these endlessly repeating tableaus—that of a black man dressed as Abraham Lincoln (in Topdog/Underdog, Link also wears whiteface) being shot by patrons, most of them white, although Link’s most regular customer is a black man. These tableaus never play out on stage except in one instance between the brothers when Booth wants Lincoln to practice.

I don’t think I can make complete sense of this tableau here; instead, this can be read as me trying to untangle the knot publicly while also sharing the brilliant work of Suzan Lori-Parks.

The tableau resists a hard-and-fast reading because of the multiple factors at play—a black man in whiteface plays Lincoln, who is shot by patrons as a sort of Confederate fantasy about assassinating Abraham Lincoln. The distance between Lincoln-the-president and Lincoln-the-impersonator is foggy because of the power of the Lincoln costume. The pressing question is who is being assassinated, or, who do the patrons desire to kill?

On one level the connection is clear: Lincoln’s assassination was over the institution of slavery and, as such, the desire to kill Lincoln is tied to a legacy of racial terror that followed his death. Here, killing Lincoln-the-president is killing Lincoln-the-impersonator. Another level is at work, though, as the play calls into question the status of Lincoln-the-president as a symbol. Today, he has been coopted by the Republican party, given the title of “The Great Emancipator,” and, in essence, reduced to the acts of Emancipation and assassination. In The America Play, the absurdity of the symbolic fetishization of the top hat and beard, and, more importantly, of Lincoln’s assassination, is made clear. In this sense, the Lincoln costume obfuscates Lincoln-the-impersonator’s blackness. The difference between valuable connection and absurd fetish over Lincoln is muddy. Overall, the tableau dwells in an ambiguous space, a sort of historical and lived knot that tangles up the historical reality of Lincoln, his symbology, and the lived experience of people both then and today.

I would like to conclude with one particularly poignant piece from these plays about history itself. In The America Play, “The Great Hole of History” is a grave filled with impersonators which, according to some scholars, is emblematic of a space in popular historic understanding in which the black experience resides. In effect, the “hole” is where black American history ought to be and it is only through Abraham Lincoln that The Foundling Father has managed to find black history. Not only are the top hat and beard conveyed as absurd for their metonymic qualities, but, on a black man, they a striking site of connection between the lived experience of a black man and the painful history of slavery and Reconstruction. Topdog/Underdog makes a similar remark which I think will wrap this post up well. After “practicing” his gruesome death with his brother, Link gets drunk and ponders the distance between the popular idea of Lincoln, with its attendant history, and the lived historical experience. By himself, Link muses, “People are funny about they Lincoln shit. Its historical. People like they historical shit in a certain way. They like it to unfold the way they folded it up. Neatly like a book. Not raggedy and bloody and screaming.”