Dreaming of a World More Like Wakanda

Black Panther
December 11, 2018

Far be it from me to complain about people who pine for a fantasy world that is superior to our own, but I am kind of curious if California Senator Kamala Harris really thought through this tweet:

I mean, look, the real lesson of Wakanda is "find a giant magical space rock and keep it hidden from the rest of the world while you advance your technology" but I guess "be nice to girls" is a close second. That being said, does Harris really want a world that looks like Wakanda? I mean, let's think about what Wakanda actually looked like:

  • It's a society with radically closed borders that tries as hard as it can to keep the outside world on the outside.
  • It's a society that allowed its African neighbors to be ravaged by the rest of the world while it hid behind its walls. Imagine being a nation on a continent where the people are being enslaved and where the resources are being strip mined and doing nothing to stop this oppression by foreign hordes even though you had the military might to do so. Imagine further watching this negligence and thinking "yes, that's a model society, we should be more like them." That's bananas. Emulating Wakanda would be bananas.
  • Who chooses how Wakanda should look and how it should be run? Why, the king, of course. How is this king chosen? By vote? By the will of the people? Nah: it's just a fistfight atop a poorly CGI-ed waterfall surrounded by people in ridiculous outfits in order to see who gets to eat a magical flower that grants those who consume it the powers of a ... big cat. Say what you will about the ethics of watery tarts tossing swords out of lakes in order to decide who rules, but even that makes more sense than this.
  • Yes, women in the royal family get to become doctors and scientists or whatever, but that feels like a pretty steep price to pay for an autocratic monarchy where rule-by-combat is literally the law of the land.

Look, don't get me wrong: Killmonger had some interesting ideas about the proper place of Wakanda in the global community. Exporting violence throughout the world in order to benefit your own nation rarely has a downside. But one gets the sense that this is not the version of Wakanda that Harris is interested in defending.