Ryan Coogler and his team of creatives outdid themselves in the latest installment of the Black Panther series. The movie that changed Hollywood forever for Black creatives, has extended their hand and opened the door for Latinos to take their place in Hollywood. Often, movies that depict the Latino Community come with stereotypes and colorism, leaving a large margin of Latinos misrepresented. From Novelas (Spanish soap operas) to Hollywood, there has long been an issue of colorism for onscreen casting opting for Latinos with European features and labeling it as inclusive. Wakanda forever changed the game by doing away with the typical Latino/European Standards, and casted a group of actors (Tenoch Huerta, Alex Livinalli and Mabel Cadena) who are relatable and captured the true essence of the Mexican-Indigenous culture that has long been overlooked.
Wakanda Forever was filled with many moments that like the first, transcended far beyond the fictional Marvel Universe. Although many Marvel movies depict real life situations, for Black Panther and Wakanda, they hit different because they are culturally relatable. It showed the brilliance of Black Women while also depicting them in a light where they were able to be human, displaying their emotions through grief, anger and love without being stereotyped. It showed girls everywhere that they can command an audience and be just as good as the boys. Grief was a constant theme throughout this movie, it showed the very raw aspect of mourning a loss while also figuring out how to mourn. Often-times people of color are not able to grieve properly. Trying to survive every day and mourning a loss at the same time can be emotionally taxing. Wakanda Forever touches on the history of colonization and how it has affected two cultures. Connecting the two and opening the space for a much-needed dialogue between cultures who are historically connected more than they know.
In an interview with Black Tree TV, Coogler touched on creating a dialogue between Black and Brown communities and why he decided to add Mexican/Indigenous culture to the script, as well as how this related to him personally.
“I’m from Northern California so like my state got a Spanish name, my streets got Spanish names. Indigenous people of Mesoamerican descent they like my family where I’m from. You know we friends on the street and also, I literally got cousins and uncles and nieces and nephews that are of that descent. Our cultures though they developed with some physical distance from each other which even that’s debatable but there’s so many similarities. The idea of juxtaposing them was something we were thinking about not doing it just for the sake of action but doing it to have the full conversation because that’s a part of life, sometimes cultures come in conflict with each other, but why and how and is there ways to bring resolution to it? These were all things we were interested in exploring.”
Wakanda Forever depicts a real-life aspect of what takes place in Black and Brown communities daily and the tensions that rise between two very strong-minded cultures. The inclusion in Wakanda Forever shows an aspect that has long been displayed but rarely acknowledged. African Americans have stood on the forefront for many years paving the way for equality that consequently has benefited Latinos. And while I’d like to be clear that this is in no way taking away from any Latino movements, it is imperative that we acknowledge the barriers Black people have broken that have allowed Latinos the space to thrive.
We’ve heard sayings like “we are stronger together” and while true, this movie depicts what that looks like for us as two very different but similar cultures. Anti-blackness has played a very big part in why the saying “stronger together” is still an obstacle. Due to assimilation to whiteness in America and lack of knowledge of true history, some Latino’s fail to understand how anti-blackness hinders and hurts not only us but the people who helped pave the way in equality for all. The movie serves as a great example of how easy it can be for two groups of people to go back and forth with retaliation. This is exactly what happens in real life. It becomes a constant cycle of hurt and an eye for an eye. Instead of creating dialogue to fix said issues, we resort to what has been taught to us through colonization which is often prejudices and violence.
As many Black and Brown people lineup to see the movie, I hope Wakanda Forever serves as a path to open more conversations about how we can serve, understand and love one another. May we understand that just as Shuri had to make her own choice, and choose empathy rather than hate, we all have the choice to choose peace over chaos. And most importantly in alignment with the message, we are indeed stronger together.