One of the things we grieve the most after pregnancy loss, are the possibility of a future with our child. Subconsciously we make plans and envision a future with our unborn child even if we don’t verbalize the dreams we have. Those dreams for the future are a strong motivation to work towards a desirable future.
I happen to enjoy Marvel movies immensely. I wasn’t a comic book reader when young, but movies have been a different story. It was a huge effort to convince my husband to go watch the Black Panther with me. He isn’t much of a movie fan let alone ” fantasy movies” as he calls them.
As a foreign medical graduate, I’ve had to work much harder than an average American medical graduate to get to where I am. I knew I would have to play by the rules laid down by the powers to be and I decided I would play that game. However representation matters. It matters a great deal in helping create a level playing field, especially in academic medicine- I can write pages about this and perhaps I will.
More importantly being in Public Health in the United States, I see the impact of systemic discrimination and the effects of playing by the rules laid down by the privileged. There is no recognition for your struggles and no reward for your successes. There is no level playing field and no matter how much you elevate yourself, you are never at the zenith of your possibilities.
When Black Panther was released, it was very easy to see it would be a cultural phenomenon. Black Panther was more than a Marvel movie to me. It was about representation, it was about strong women characters, it was about respecting and acknowledging the oldest continent on the planet. It was about elevating people from Africa. It was about glamorizing science.
Even though I don’t fully comprehend what the African American diaspora deals with on a daily basis, as an immigrant, as a minority and a woman in academic medicine- Black Panther was a must see to me. My husband argued that I was helping Marvel and Disney make money, but he came with me anyway. I told him , he didn’t want to regret missing out on one of most important films of our lifetime.
When I was pregnant, I would often dream of taking my child to watch the Marvel movies and introduce my child to the world of super heroes. We all need something to believe in and what better than to show my child that people other than white people can do great deeds, be leaders and be super heroes.
As a medical professional in Public Health losing a young man at 43 to colon cancer (a disease when detected early can have good results) was disturbing and disappointing. As a mother who wants to raise her child showing him, his possibilities are endless, it was soul shattering. The loss of Chadwick Boseman, King T’Challa, was nothing short of a shattered dream, I had for my child.
My husband and I have spent the weekend watching and listening to videos of Chadwick Boseman’s interviews and speeches. He was indeed a marvel, a superhero, a decent man and an inspiration to all of us, on screen and off screen. I know in time, we will all move on from this grief. I do however want to take this moment to acknowledge that representation matters. Little children dressing in Black Panther costumes is more than being cute on Halloween, it is about normalizing expectations. Black Panther was bigger than a blockbuster movie- It was a cultural phenomenon we may only appreciate in the years to come.