Reflections of Wakanda Forever (no spoilers)
At first glance, Wakanda Forever seems reminiscent of the era of multiculturalism with a dose of polite White backlash and a pinch of Black reaction formation. Multiculturalism, if you remember, was a response to the rise of Black history being infused into the American education system. The polite backlash to Black History came in the form of multicultural education. Multicultural education, whether implicit of explicit, effectively diminished Black history education for all American students. The inclusion of Black History would be marginalized again enabling white constructs and narratives to maintain its educational dominance while other cultures vie for the limited space originally parceled for Black History.
Wakanda Forever, though a good entertaining and technical movie, reintroduced multiculturalism, whether implicit or explicit, to diminish the impact the movie had on the African diaspora in the first iteration. The second iteration threw one or two bones minimizing the behaviors of current neo-colonial powers. These powers continue to show up with the same desires to prey on another country’s resources by justifying bellicose policies in the shadows with mercenaries or in the open halls of government with politicians and the corporate elite.
Wakanda Forever introduces a new world power through the Mayan culture and its living deity Quetzalcoatl, played in the movie as Kukulkan. The Mayan culture was shown to be more powerful than the Wakandans in a surreptitious way to diminish Black/African Power. At the same time, the introduction and expansion of Brown Power allowed the White power structure to stand grinning knowing the subconscious white male gaze had reasserted itself in the political theater of mythology at the movies.
In political science, one studies politics as power, whereby, both terms are interchangeable in many or most instances. When Mayor Harold Washingtons (1983-1987) suddenly died in Chicago during his administration, his major successor, Mayor Richard Daley (1989-2011), would diminish the political gains made by Blacks during the Washington administration. Blacks formerly recognized as the minority power of Chicago would be replaced in the new political machinery by hispanic minorities. A new fresh sense of multiculturalism and political gentrification would become the new models beginning in the 1970s rising throughout the 1980s and the 1990s implemented throughout the US in other cities like Chicago and Los Angeles.
Nevertheless, no pun intended, Wakanda Forever seems to be following the predetermined prescribed model relating enhanced and enriched Blackness/Africaness back into the margins of obscurity of shared Black or minority spaces. By Wakanda Forever introducing another minority group to gentrify space lived and occupied by African people, a fault line of power was shifted in the hearts and minds of all people. In the first film we got to speak about Black/African power and now we are dividing Black/African power again by sharing it as ‘Black and Brown’ under a white power structure. Though I concede multiculturalism creates a multifaceted assault to divide cultures, I still insist that multiculturalism in Wakanda Forever is ultimately weaponized to neautralize Black/Africanist Power. Black/Africanist power does not need to be diminished for the sake or sacrifice to increase others.
Jarrod K. Grant