Black Panther: How Can We Learn From Our Past?

How Black Panther Shows Us That The Past Doesn’t Dictate Our Future

When Black Panther was released in 2018, the film was a runaway hit. It showed generations of audiences the obstacles that can be overcome bother literally and socially, just by working together. With the late Chadwick Boseman bringing king T’Challa to life, audiences saw a version of the hero that hadn’t been explored yet. This Black Panther had a lot to learn in becoming a king and a better person.

The film’s main focus was about the father’s sins and how change is the most integral thing to adhere to when you need to survive. T’Challa initially represented the idea that change is unnecessary, or to bring up the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger, on the other hand, represented radical change. The idea that violence is the only way to get your point across, and for both of these characters, it was their pasts that led them to their present. More accurately, their father’s pasts. This begs the important question that every person will have to ask at least once in their lives; How can we learn from our past?

Personally, I have always subscribed to the term about how those who do not listen to history are doomed to repeat it. Essentially, we must try to take the lessons from the past, both personal and historical, and try our best to make wiser choices looking forward based on that. It is the simplest solution, sure, but not always the easiest to achieve. For T’Challa, he spent most of his life raised to believe in one particular idea– that Wakanda must never be shared with the world so that its people may thrive. An idea that was backed by generations of kings who believed the same idea. It is a valid idea, sure, but much like a champagne bottle, if shaken enough, it will pop, which is exactly what happens to Killmonger’s father, who believes that the Wakanda should help those in need by giving them the ability to fight back. This idea later mutated into his son’s vision of a world ruled by Wakanda with violence.

This experience and the decisions of those who came before him helped T’Challa understand that as the world literally comes knocking at Wakanda’s door, he must now throw away the past decisions to create a better future. By renouncing decades of ideals, T’Challa took his first step to making things better. He learned from the past to create a better future. Killmonger was born with his father’s ideas etched into his mind, much like T’Challa, since his dream of change was not truly his own to have, he too suffered from the same issues T’Challa had. The only difference is that Killmonger opted to never learn from the past and that lack of change led to his downfall.

In life, we all deal with the repercussions of the choices we make. At the moment, we rarely think about the effect it will have on the future and who will be caught in the crossfire. But that is humanity in a nutshell, isn’t it? How many of us had grown up with the ideas and beliefs of our parents, and only as we grew older did we realize what we really truly believed and didn’t? We have all gone through the same change that T’Challa has, and we will continue to grow. Black Panther shows us that the mistakes and choices of the past are not meant to define but to inform. They inform us of the decisions we must take into deeper consideration for the future, and they inform us of a possible future similar choices could lead us down. T’Challa saw what can become of a people that didn’t want to learn and, by negating the established order, stopped Wakanda from becoming an isolationist country and instead opened their hearts and minds to the world around them.

As life gets hard and the truths of what came before come to life, it is important to approach every obstacle or revelation with a wiseness that may seem impossible. T’Challa has taught us that the things that happened before can serve to aid us in what will happen in the future, should we let it. We all fight for our own personal Wakanda. That is why it is important to fight for the Wakanda of the now with the lessons of the past so that we can have our personal Wakanda forever.

Thank you all so much for reading this post and massive apologies on its lateness. My new job demands a bit of the change to the release schedule so expect a post every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday now. I have also started a new podcast with a good friend of mine that you will be able to listen to below! Make sure to follow on my socials for future updates! Stay Safe, Stay Happy, and Stay Fresh!

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