Building Community Through Wakanda

By kheperah Davis-Ray

Building Community Through Wakanda

Welcome to the Marvel Universe where they have created a fictional black utopia that the Black Panther *Forest Whittaker voice* rules as king, it's so impressive that white people can’t even find it. After seeing it on the big screen three times, I was more than prepared to create my own version of Wakanda that met the same the same requirements, you know a bunch of black people, rich mineral resources and some of the most advanced technology. Marvels glorification on the creative technology and large amount of vibranium opened my eyes to the parallels between Marvel Universe and the continent Africa. The kingdom of Wakanda symbolized more than their material goods it demonstrated a black civilization that was civilized. This stood out the most to me because most media outlets and external publications don’t depict people of color in a positive light.

This movie was more than inspiring it provided a number of ideas to spark great conversations and if shined a positive light for a fictional Africa. After all, I had to consistently remind myself it was only a movie, however every time I watched the movie I got a warm sense of pride seeing characters that look like me and portray themselves in rolls that glorified their love and passion for their communities. Overall I felt inspired, I knew this was an opportunity to express myself through the movie so that we could build a movement. Our Wakanda State of Mind merch allowed us to focus on Wakanda the County instead of the hero Black Panther. There was a ton of rich symbology that paid homage to a number of different African tribes and communities it took to build the movie. With that on my mind, I knew that the best way to build my version of Wakanda was through the community. There was a holistic approach to the depiction of their society and it was a reminder that it's possible to build similar values into our community.

Taking to the most traditional method we knew to sell the merch, I decided to reach out to my network to receive their advice on how to sell our content the best. I got suggestions to market in front of every movie theatre as well as reach out to the actor's socials, both of which would take time but would pay off. After getting their advice, Cameron and I discovered a number of ways to sell the shirts, however, our demand was higher than our supply. We had to figure out what would be the best means of selling the shirts and fulfilling each shipment, with the help of our far and friends plus wix we had an up and running site that showcased the Wakanda State of Mind Long Sleeve T-shirts. The opening week of the movie, Cameron and I had the opportunity to assist Party Blackly in hosting a Black Panther Premier at the Downtown Regal Cinema, some of the perks of working with their company were that we saw how many people were willing to mobilize on a black event. Throughout the entire theatre, there were tons of black and brown people engaging and looking forward to the movie. The entire experience was beyond surprising the amount of unity, free expression and everybody dressed up if they were starting in the movie themselves.


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