Wakanda Forever! Or 10 Lessons on Teaching from The Black Panther

It’s been a year, a YEAR y’all, since I wrote anything for this blog. A lot has gone on since February 2017 and, to be honest, writing wasn’t on my mind. On the one hand, I lost three family members to a senseless murder. On the other hand, I became a PROUD member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority,  Incorporated (Oo-Oop!) and the BEST chapter in the whole wide world (Shout out EP/CP DST!). On another hand, I published my first book and subsequently had my first book signing. On the other another hand, a whole bunch of me just trying to live life was going on so writing blog posts…yeah…not so much. And truthfully, I was content to let Hollimanspeaks go the way of the ancestors. But then…

On Friday February 16
at 6:30
I caught a flight to Wakanda

AND LAWDAMERCY!

ATL Flight

If anything had the ability to get back to my keyboard THIS WAS IT! Between the beauty of the landscapes, the costumes, and the melanin that cascaded over every corner of that movie like Warrior Falls I’ve been doing my best James Brown/Chadwick Boseman “I’m Black and I’m Proud” impression for a week.

James Brown
Didn’t Know T’Challa had moves like this? Now you do.

And while I could spend pages and pages and PAGES writing about all the reasons you betta go see this movie if you haven’t already seen this movie I’ll stick to what I write about best, education. (But of you want to read the Black Panther movie review to end ALL Black Panther movie reviews, check out my writer and blog crush Awesomely Luvvie. Hers is #goals. Click here. )

SPOILER ALERT!!

EVERY EXAMPLE I USE IN THIS POST HAS SOME REFERENCE TO THE GREATNESS THAT IS BLACK PANTHER SO IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET (BAST ONLY KNOWS WHY) YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

The title of this post is “10 Lessons on Teaching from the Black Panther” so I should share those lessons with you, huh? As much as I thoroughly enjoyed watching, I can almost never NOT watch a movie without viewing it through my educator lenses and Black Panther was no exception so here we go:

  1. Know your students and tap into what interests them to get their buy-in: Killmonger tapped into the interest and passion of W’Kabe to do more than Wakanda had been doing to help those of the Black Diaspora. (Ignore the fact that his name was Killmonger for a reason and focus on the student engagement piece)
  2. Empower, Encourage, and Expect Excellence: Someone at some place and at some time saw Shuri’s brilliance and cultivated it. She’s not just a tech genius, she’s not even THE tech genius in Wakanda. She’s the BEST tech genius in Wakanda, and I submit, the entire MCU. She didn’t get there by herself. She had someone empower her, encourage her, and expect greatness from her. Do the same for your students.
  3. Be the Leader and Be Loving: If there ever was anyone who was “The Truth” Okoye, the General of the Dora Milaje, was all the Truth’s there ever have been and ever will be. She wasn’t just a member of this ferocious group of warrior women she was the leader and she was not to be played with. But, she was also sensitive, emotional, and caring. Even the Super Armored Rhino knew this. Be the leader in your class but don’t forget to show your humanity too.
  4.  Be willing to learn and applaud their victory: Everett Ross is a high powered US State Department operative who was a decorated fighter pilot. But, even with all of his military expertise, Shuri had to teach him how to fly the super jet. However, even more importantly, he had to receive the instruction. From a 16 year old. And he did, and then celebrated a victory that was’t even necessarily his to celebrate. Cousins, it’s okay to learn from your students. It’s also okay to celebrate their victories with them. Do that. Be Everett.
  5. Have Fun: Okay. Yes. Klaue was a murderer, and a thief, and a racist BUT he had fun doing his job. A lot of fun. He had a mix tape. (That doesn’t mean you have to have one). The point is, find some way to have fun doing what you do.
  6. Teaching Isn’t About You (or Me): The work we do isn’t about us. It never is. It never will be. Nakia understood that. She wasn’t risking her life fighting against the Boko Haram because she needed something to do. She understood her work had a greater purpose. So does ours.
  7. Never Let Them See You Sweat (Well Try Not To): “Cooler than a polar bear’s toenails…” ATLiens should be T’Challa’s theme song. (I mean, Wakanda IS in Atlanta so…) In the entire movie he was pretty much the coolest thing on the screen unless we’re visiting M’Baku in the mountains and then it’s actually really REALLY warm (Sorry. I digress) But seriously, T’Challa was the king of maintaining his composure (unless Nakia was around but I digress again). Unlike most superheroes and super villains, T’Challa very rarely went off. Was he impassioned? Yup. Forceful? Yup. But even when he was angry he remained calm. I mean for real. Your cousin shows up out of the blue, yelling and carrying on about how he wants to challenge you for your throne and your response is a quiet, steely eyed, “I accept.” See. Had that been me I’d have been all “What you NOT finna do is come up in MY throne room like you runnin things!” But I’m not T’Challa. I am most times but even I have a bad day because I’m human. You do too. So does he but the point is to focus on channeling our inner Wakandan King to the best of or ability.
  8. Be Open to Suggestions:  T’Challa’s decision to open Wakanda up to the rest of the world was based partially on Killmonger’s accusation that Wakanda left their brothers and sisters to suffer while Wakanda prospered and partially on Nakia’s wisdom. At the beginning of the movie, King T’Challa wasn’t hearing it. Maintaining status quo was the best way to protect his people and that’s they way it had been and would continue to be. By the end of the movie, he had changed his mind. Sometimes we are content to doing the same old same old because it works, not to mention change is inconvenient. But in the wise words of Shuri, “Just because something works doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.” Be open to suggestions, even if you don’t necessarily agree.
  9. Have An Adviser You Trust: T’Challa had two: Zuri and his father, T’Chaka. Whenever he had a question, it is one of these two men that he sought. They were imperfect but they were also wise and knew him better than he knew himself, “You are a good man, with a good heart. And it’s hard for a good man to be king.”  Always have someone you can talk to and who can give you sound council.
  10. Know When Humor is Appropriate and Use It:  Whether you realize it oR not, Black Panther was a heavy movie. There were so many themes and moments of realization that you need a nap and two days of silence to process it all. That’s why M’Baku was so important. By the time Killmonger has “killed” King T’Challa, burned the garden of the heart shaped herb, choked the woman trying to protect the garden, decided to send weapons to all the War Dogs, and got us all worried  because the wrong person is on the throne, we are ready for M’Baku. “If you say one more word I will feed you to my children!…Just joking. We are vegetarians!” And laughter broke out across Wakanda. At that point we needed the catharsis because we were goin through. Humor works the same way in our classes. Rough day? Lousy test? Students have misplaced their minds? Try a little humor. Release the stress.

Okay. Now that you’ve gotten the lessons…

11. GO VISIT WAKANDA

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