From the Washington Post opinion section:
By Karen Attiah
November 25, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. EST
… But what I was most struck by was how [Black Panther: Wakanda Forever] portrays Black girls and women and technology. It leads us to imagine a world in which Black girls are technological geniuses and the weapons that White men use are, in Gen. Okoye’s words, “so primitive.” “Black Panther 2” invites us to imagine Black women as not just inventors but the proprietary owners of their inventions and resources, with no obligations to share with the Western world.
… It’s refreshing to see, even fictionally, an African nation strong enough to deny the West its resources and its technology — a complete reversal of today’s world order.
Wakanda won’t share its Magic Dirt, vibranium, with the West, who are stuck with their Tragic Dirt.
… Given all this, “Black Panther” is a bit of a technological-revenge fantasy. In the movie, the genius inventor is an American Black college student named Riri Williams, a.k.a. “Ironheart” (Dominique Thorne), who is studying at MIT. She develops a crucial piece of technology that everyone wants to get their hands on.
… Shuri, Riri and their respective technological geniuses are the true heroines of “Black Panther.” … Shuri and Riri realize their fullest individual potential through the technology they create and share with one another.
So, what if we lived in a world where Black girls were encouraged to be inventors in science and technology? Or where Black women could protect and benefit from their own creativity and genius? The U.S. Patent Office does not keep racial demographic data, but a 2010 study found that while U.S. inventors in general received 235 patents per million people, Black inventors received six patents per million people. And of course, we know that White male innovators get the lion’s share of financial backing — recent studies showed that women received only 2.7 percent of venture capital funding. And Black founders receive less than 3 percent.
So this holiday weekend, I’m grateful that “Black Panther 2” exists to show us what #BlackGirlGenius looks like. As we think about the gadgets that make our lives better, let’s all think about how many real-life Shuri and Riris are out there who don’t get the chance they should to make an impact on the world.
I liked Black Panther and I admire Ryan Coogler for having previously revived the Rocky franchise with his boxing movie Creed. But this sequel, which I haven’t seen, sounds like a mess, which can presumably be blamed on the first Black Panther’s hero, Chadwick Boseman, dying of cancer a couple of years ago.
Coogler has his (highly masculine) strong suits, but confecting this kind of you-go-girl nonsense sure doesn’t sound like it’s one of them.