You act like a th’owed away child: Black Panther, Killmonger, and Pan-Africanist African-American identity1

  • Salim Washington School of Arts, Music and Drama, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Keywords: Black Panther, reception theory, Afrofuturism, Pan-Africanism, colonialism, Feminism, Transatlantic slavery


This article proposes to theorise the role of reception and the ways in which it interacts with the sensibilities of a type of Pan-Africanist African-American identity. The romanticising of African feudalism (even the “special” feudalism of Wakanda) is highly problematic. Likewise, the celebration of kings and the reification of things like “traditional courts”. The graphic novel of the same name problematises the celebratory mood of the film by highlighting social fissures in Wakanda. In the same ways that notions of royalty and (neo)traditionalism in the real world can be grindingly unfair to working masses and particularly to women, the film Black Panther runs the danger of making such issues invisible. The interaction with and reception of the film, however, by black people around the world adds to the meaning and fact of this film and has elevated the screenings to a cultural event. As such, these various screenings add to the text of the film, shaping the Afrofuturist resonance of this text. Ostensibly, Black Panther is a super hero film centred on romanticised fictional Pan-African nation and culture. However, it is also an allegory about the place of Africans in the Diaspora in the postcolonial liberation of Africa.