Dear Jason Black: An Open Letter From a Black Nerd About Your Views on Black Panther

Onyx Contributor:  H.T. (@517NightHawk), Podcast:  Lansing Anti-Hero

Dear Jason Black aka The Black Authority (alleged real name is Jeremy Lloyd Smith), I was enjoying what I saw of the Black Panther trailer until I woke up and saw this…

Let me start by saying that I’m quite aware of your need to stir up controversy, from your days arguing of with Mr. Gates to when you made a hot take about the Nicki vs Remy beef using MY analogy.   Now, when it comes to this whole Black Panther controversy, I’m just gonna keep it 100 with you about him as I grew up following the character.  These are the simple facts about the character:

  • Wakanda just within the Marvel Universe is recognized as the most wealthy nation.  PERIOD.  More than ANYONE ELSE, thus why they have so many enemies.
  • Plenty of REAL African civilizations still have plenty of people walking around with spears as it’s a part of their CULTURE.  Wakanda does it for that same reason AND because they know people in the West ( like yourself) assume that if it’s a bunch of Africans with spears, they must be broke, which is just a cover really.
  • T’Challa is an African hero motivated with a literal absolute distrust of the outside world as nearly every nation and organization with interest in their resources has sent people into their country only to get kicked out.  This includes Doctor Doom (who caught hands from Luke Cage over money he owed), the Skrulls (aliens) and other-worldly deities that wiped out the rest of the Avengers.  He and the Wakandans have easily beat people that all the WHITE heroes couldn’t beat.
  • Also, it’s recognized by essentially everyone in the Avengers that T’Challa could easily kill most if not all of them easily because well, he’s just that badass and intelligent.  Smarter than Iron Man even.
  • Also, Black Panther was introduced in a Fantastic Four comic where he beat the PISS out of them single handedly.
  • Also, 2 of the most memorable story arcs were written by Ta-nehisi Coates and Reggie Hudlin.

Now for my outlook on things:  first, while I can agree that at times black nerds can coon it up for white attention, I do not believe this is one of those times.  See, Black Panther as far a black heroes go has stayed consistently pro-black and has been a bastion of hope for us.  Black nerds love Black Panther because in a fandom that almost demands homogeny to enjoy it at points, Black Panther is the one place you can be black, proud and can easily have a defense for why white nerds who ARE racist demand that we make him white or more white friendly DESPITE the fact that the character’s whole appeal is that he pisses off white people.

Seriously, he had a short lived cartoon on BET where there was a scene where T’challa’s father, T’Chaka gave a short but to the point speech to other nations that assumed him to just be another African dictator they could bribe off but he wasn’t having it.  Also, the theme song to his show was fucking awesome.

The whole point you tried to make about black nerds who care about comic books are why girls don’t like us…look, for every 5 black nerds you see complaining about love problems, there’s another 5 who are happily married and enjoying being a big fucking nerd.  If you wanna nitpick about the race, fine.  But people are still HAPPILY MARRIED and NERDY, so at best, you made a bit of a generalization.

In my opinion sir, I feel like you and the fans of yours that agree with you have this very warped idea of what REAL black empowerment in the media looks like.  I will agree that I too tire of seeing these white-washed hipster narratives about black people pushed in the media and being praised, but I also can recognize when something decent that’s made for us by us exists.  Both Queen Sugar and Insecure are great shows that were written, produced and funded by black people, but for a lot of you that isn’t enough.  Honestly, if you ask me, it really does feel like the demand you have for an “empowered” black TV show sounds, well, heavy handed.

You want us wealthy, but you don’t want us showing any of black culture that makes us “look bad” and look bad to who I might add?  You want us standing strong against the racists of the world, but you don’t want us too stereotypical or too white-washed.  You want black people to make better images of ourselves, but the idea of “better” portrayals seems like a very narrow road as it doesn’t seem to include pan-African cultures, women, gay people, any reference to slavery or anything to do with black people who are successful in mostly white spaces.  I’m left to assume your idea of empowering black images exists only in the heads of people who romanticize the entire black power movement of the 60s or in memes covered in RBG flags that spew incorrect facts under the guise of being woke.

Fact is, speaking as a black nerd, I can promise you two things I will have to deal with when Black Panther is released:  racist white nerds complaining that this is a very anti-white superhero because he doesn’t cater to their feelings like an ACTUAL coon and radical black “feminists” who will state that T’challa, despite it being canon that he has undying love for the women in his life that includes his mother, his sister (who at one point becomes queen) and his now ex-wife Storm from the X-men, will say he displays “toxic masculinity” because in this day and age, shea butter Twitter believes a good black man is one who acts like her gay best friend more than her lover.

In closing, I want it to be known that I don’t hate you, but I do find it upsetting that you are kind of dancing around seeing that Black Panther is quite honestly the most pro-black hero we’ve ever had as a people.  Sure, he’s been written mostly by white people, but his blackest, most authentic moments were written by black people.  Hell, when Black Panther’s latest run with an all black team got canceled many of us were upset because we had gotten what we always wanted:  all the black heroes coming together and kicking ass.  Please, at least attempt to understand why Black Panther is not only important to black nerds, but to black people as far as seeing a strong, alpha male hero fighting for black people and black people alone.  You strike me as an intelligent man and I would hope you could at least TRY to shift your paradigm on this.

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