Tuesday, February 27, 2018

An (Un)Review of Marvel's Black Panther and a DIY Black Panther Birthday on a Budget

I didn’t think I would feel as emotional as I did taking my son to see Black Panther.

Sure, he’d been obsessing about it for months. Ever since we’d heard the script was in development, he’d focused on this protagonist more than any other. Roman has a knack for art, and for the past few months he’d devoted his most involved works to various homages of Black Panther. But I still thought it was something of a phase. He’d get over it.

It’s a movie, another superhero flick just like ones they’d seen before. Honestly, before viewing it initially with my husband, I went back and forth on whether or not I’d even let him see it all (obsession be damned). But there was something about sitting in that theater on the day it premiered, smiling without even realizing it through most of the production - I was filled up watching Black Panther. Filled with pride and excitement and (yes, even though it was a movie about a fictional country) a hunger to find out more about my own connection to Africa. I couldn’t deny my kids that.

So off we went during mid-winter break, a mere 3 days after I’d already seen it once, with me stage whispering for Roman (as he hugged his stuffed Black Panther to his chest) and his older sister to cover their eyes every so often during the “scary” parts and I’m so happy we did. My son (and daughters), born while this country was run by its very first black president, coming of age in a time when the voices of youth speak volumes, as gender roles are being confronted and re-imagined, sat in that theater and watched this pretend black hero flex his muscle and use his mind to defeat the bad guys and to stand up for his people.

And I couldn’t have asked for a better message for my boy. I envy the sense of belonging that my kids seem to be growing up with. The role of Black Americans in business and government, particularly, are almost commonplace whereas just a few years ago, a Black president was spoken of almost anecdotally. So yes, I’m thankful to Marvel’s Black Panther – a movie that exudes black excellence both behind the scenes and in front of the lens – because it means so much to my family and specifically my son.

We’d toyed with the idea, beforehand, about making my son’s upcoming birthday party, Black Panther-themed but with such limited merchandise available and (after the movie release) running short on time before Roman’s February 27th birthday, we didn’t know if we’d pull it off. Once we saw the flick though, we knew we had to make it happen.

But I flexed my own creative muscle (Roman gets it from somewhere after all) and mixed together a few details that I thought would go along way. Between our panther-clawed balloons (courtesy of Party City), a little Photoshop creative license (thanks to the movie’s promotional posters) to enhance the goodie bags and treats and some friends that were very indulgent of our excitement, we put together an unforgettable 6th birthday for my special boy (and birthday twin). Something I hope he remembers for a very long time. Hell, I know I will.

What’s something you & your kids share that you know means so much to you?

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