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'Black Panther' brings positive impact to MSU and Lansing community

February 23, 2018
<p>Chadwick Boseman in "Black Panther." Photo courtesy Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios vi Tribune News Service</p>

Chadwick Boseman in "Black Panther." Photo courtesy Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios vi Tribune News Service

The theme and inspiration from Marvel's "Black Panther" has jumped off the screen and into the lives of MSU students. 

"Black Panther" is the first black superhero in Marvel to have acquired a movie, and has had an impact on many, especially the black community. 

Rachel Dearing, a communication freshman at MSU, is a big fan of superhero movies. She saw the movie on opening night. She said "Black Panther" reaches so many different people on a global scale. 

“I felt 'Black Panther' was something special because it was the first superhero movie with a black lead,” Dearing said. 

"Black Panther" is a movie about T’Challa, the Black Panther, as he leads his nation Wakanda and chooses the right way to lead his people, and whether or not to help the rest of the world in turmoil. 

Wakanda is a secret community disguised as a third world country that, underneath the surface, has immense technology and power the rest of the world does not have access to.

“The movie was beautiful. You got to see African culture and African-Americans showcase their talents," she said.  

Dearing said she hopes to see more diversity in superhero movies in the future. She said knows Marvel already has potential plans for new superheroes, including female leads.

"Black Panther" has a prominent theme throughout the film of whether one should be a bystander and protect oneself or get involved in other’s affairs. Dearing said family is a major theme incorporated into the film.

Dearing encouraged everyone to go out and see this movie. It is enjoyable for everyone, she said. 

“Everyone at MSU is scattered about, but I feel when this movie came out I could go up to any black person and say, ‘Have you seen Black Panther?’ and either they would respond enthusiastically and relay how amazing the movie was or how excited they got or how much they loved it, or they will complain they haven’t seen it yet but they really want to,” Dearing said.

Dearing says the movie has opened up a conversation that can be shared universally, and it bring everyone together.

“It made us proud to be who we are,” Dearing said.

Churches and schools from across the nation have tried to raise money to take children to see the movie. 

After more than $50,000 was raised to give children an opportunity to experience "Black Panther" in Harlem, New York resident Frederick Joseph launched #BlackPantherChallenge to encourage other communities to take their children to see "Black Panther." 

There is a #BlackPantherChallenge in Lansing that has raised more than $2,000 to send children in the area to watch the movie. 

“I would like to send 120 Lansing children to see Black Panther as a contribution to the #BlackPantherChallenge campaign,” the GoFundMe page created by Lansing resident Michael Banks reads. “I have contacted multiple non-profits and child welfare programs in our community to ensure that children can attend through this fundraising who otherwise would not be able to attend the movie.”

The accurate depiction of African-American experiences was one of many qualities of the film that peaked MSU student Dinah George's interest.

“The depictions, down to the most small details, were accurate on what actually is on the continent and the experiences people are having," George said.

"Black Panther" took the time and effort to do the research and accurately represent African-American culture in the movie, George said. She said she believes seeing a black superhero portrayed in a positive light restores power in the younger generation.

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“They represented the community in a way that we always wanted and always needed. When black people say, 'We want representation,' that is accurate, that is what 'Black Panther' did," she said.

Michael B. Jordan portrayed the villain Killmonger in "Black Panther." George said she loved his character because he was relatable to her. 

“We felt his frustration, because it was real. His villainy was not this foreign concept to us when we were watching the movie," George said. "We were like, 'same, I have been the same place, same feeling.' ... He was not this far-off person.”

She understood his character and his motives because to her that is how a lot of black people feel, but he let his anger consume him. It turned him into the same thing he hated in the beginning, George said.

George said she thinks the movie is so powerful and important to the black community because it brings joy to them. 

“The reason why black people laugh so loud, why we appreciate the things we do so much, because all of these things around us that we cannot control are influencing our lives in ways that suck," Geoge said. "So far, the black community to have a time, a place and a space to just be black, unapologetically, is not common.”

"Black Panther" is going into its second weekend in theaters. Its first weekend, the film made nearly $250 million during its opening last weekend, including the Monday President's Day holiday, according to Forbes.


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