By Stephanie Farrier
Published: February 21st, 2018
The Black Panther premiere last Friday was like prom for black people. I mean the whole nine yards—hair done, outfit in place, and crew assembled. If you were anything like me, and really about that life, you might’ve even had an after-party situated and were probably involved in a group chat or two leading up to the day for the two weeks preceding—yes, the preparation was that extensive. The theater location was also important; for the ultimate black excellence experience, you had to go where your people were. You had to go to Harlem, to the AMC Magic Johnson Theater on 125th Street to be exact.
Walking in the theater for the 11 p.m. showing was everything I’d hoped it would be. Everyone was decked out in dashikis and African garb. The haircuts were fresh, the afros were out, and the head wraps were elaborate and standing tall. The sounds of “Yass Queen!”, “Work it, sis!”, and handshakes from the brothers filled the space.
This was camaraderie at its finest!
I felt bad for some of the people who were purchasing their tickets the night of and stood at the ticket window with long faces when they realized the show was sold out. Still, they just seemed happy to be surrounded by their people in their element and hung out for a while to talk and take pictures.
When we reached the actual floor where the movie was showing, it was a mix between your neighborhood block party, and the red carpet. There was press from Glamour Magazine, CBS, and other publications doing interviews, cameras flashing, and the greeting of friends you didn’t come with but were happy to see there anyway (more opportunities for pictures!) I thought to myself, “Look at us all here 30 minutes before the movie started. Yeah, it might’ve taken a mostly black cast in a Marvel movie for this to happen, but who says black people can’t be on time for anything?!”
As we filed into the theater and the movie began—don’t worry there are no spoilers—it was like being in your living room with the family on movie night. You had the loud laughers (me), the screamers, and those who liked to talk back to the screen. No one seemed to mind. There was a general understanding that this was a moment and you’d be a party pooper to rain on anybody’s parade. We clapped and payed homage when our favorite black actors popped up on the screen, laughed and cried together, and stayed throughout the whole movie just to watch the credits and of course see the sneak-peaks that are inevitably at the end of every Marvel movie.
I’m not sure if it was the Hennessy starting to kick in or my fro-hawk tickling the back of my neck, but I felt a warm tingly sensation sprinkle all over me. Something was in the atmosphere. In an ideal world, this is what the black community looked like. It looked like us being us without the fear of oppression, shade, or prejudice. It looked like a celebration of a major win after experiencing our fair share of losses. It was empowerment and representation. It was an acknowledgement of the glow-up. I prayed there was something bigger bubbling underneath the surface, that it wouldn’t just be a superficial portrayal of love and be gone as soon as the movie left the theaters. Perhaps there would even be a shift in the way we perceived the power structure in our society, and ourselves. It wasn’t just for black people. It was for everyone who had ever felt unseen or misrepresented. This was the day of the “underdogs.”