Probably one of the greatest unknown facts about me is that I love the MCU (Marvel Comics Universe). Ever since Captain America, The First Avenger came to the big screen I have been watching and re-watching Marvel Comics movies. There is just something about a hero fighting their way back to victory, that inspires me.
When the Black Panther movie took the stage, my exceptions were high and Ryan Coogler did not disappoint.
One scene that I have played again and again features the queen mother, Ramonda. The Black Panther, prince T’Challa, is set to become king after his father is killed.
In Wakanda, they have what is called “ritual combat”, which means that any other tribe in Wakanda could put forth a warrior to fight T’Challa in combat. If another warrior won, then he or she would become the new king or queen and the new Black Panther.
Only one tribe, the Jabari, puts forth a man (M’Baku) to fight T’Challa for the throne.
At one point in the combat M’Baku head buts T’Challa and puts him in a hold. T’Challa struggles to break the hold and fight back. T’Challa is dazed but looks around and sees his mother, Ramonda.
Ramonda yells loud enough for all of the people of Wakanda to hear, a statement that resonated with Marvel fans around the globe.
T’Challa in a daze, hears his mother say,
“Show him who you are!!!!”
And in true Hollywood fashion, T’Challa breaks from M’Baku’s hold and begins to fight again. But M’Baku takes his spear and plunges it into T’Challa’s shoulder.
But in spite of the continued battering, his mother’s words resonate in him and T’Challa begins to proclaim in a loud voice who he is.
“I am prince T’Challa, son of T’Chaka!”
And he pushes the spear out of his shoulder, defeats M’Baku, and wins the ritual combat. He becomes king of Wakanda and is declared the new “Black Panther”.
So I know that this is the MCU, where few heroes actually ever die, let alone lose a fight. However, this scene is an actual depiction of the power of, “Knowing who you are.”
One of the many vivid images of the Civil Rights movement was the Memphis Sanitation Strike of 1968. African American sanitation workers went on strike demanding safer working conditions and fair wages.
These men had to carry leaky garbage cans and go home with maggots on their clothes. Full-time workers did not receive overtime pay or paid vacations. If they were injured on the job, they were simply fired. These jobs were intentionally reserved for black men.
Due to these harsh labor conditions, a union was formed with T.O. Jones taking the lead. T.O. Jones organized the men to walk off.
He is quoted as saying,
“They don’t realize that they don’t have to live like this. They don’t realize that if they come together that they can overcome. They think they can’t win, but they can.”
Do you feel a Wakanda moment coming on?
The mayor of Memphis orders an end to the strike and orders these men to go back to work under unsafe conditions. They were treated as if they were not men.
In response, these sanitation workers along with their supporters marched in Memphis. To show Memphis and the entire world who they were, they carried signs as they marched that read,
“I am a man.”
It was a serious “Show them who you are” moment.
Obstacles will beat you down if you let them. Society will say that you are less. That you have no value because of the color of your skin, the texture of your hair, or your economic background.
Whether we have come from humble or even unknown beginnings, God has given us the means, authority, an opportunity to reaffirm our legacy…
…To be born again to reestablish our place as royalty, to reestablish a culture that was lost, to reestablish a more superior brand of community, to reestablish our place as a creative, industrious, and enduring people.
Like the character T’Challa, when it is time to fight in combat for your family, to preserve unity in our neighborhoods, to fight an idolatrous uprising, to fight for economic growth, to protect morality and dignity in the church…
Do not be weary in well doing.. let these words resonate in the depths of all people who aspire to do well…
Show them who you are!
If you have been battered, get back up again. If you have been lied to, search for what is true and faithful. If your heart has been broken, let the spirit of grace and forgiveness heal you.
You are the sons and daughters of the most high God, Jehovah-Jireh, the Lord our Provider, Jehovah-Ganan, the Lord our defense.
When you know who you are… you will keep your head up, you will not settle for less, you will not compromise, no matter how bad it hurts. You will stand because you have a right to stand. You will lay down your dignity for no man because you are a royal priesthood, a chosen generation.
Show them who you are. Remember who you are.