I never was into comics as a kid. I worshiped the Power Rangers and dabbled in Batman: The Animated Series. I remember singing Seal’s “Kiss From A Rose” during Batman Forever, and leaving church early to see Spider-Man 2.
I was the casual geek playing Magic: The Gathering at lunch, but never venturing into Dungeons & Dragons. (Although I did view the awful adaptation in middle school). But I never fully invested in that world. Partially because I didn’t think it belonged to me.
I never saw anyone like me enjoying those things. And the sad part is I never noticed it. I assumed it was what whites did – and if one was black and read anime – you were weird. I didn’t need another moniker added to my name as the chubby Oreo in the all-white Boy Scout troop who secretly crushed on elder members.
So as Ryan Coogler’s story of T’Challa unfolded, with it’s pristine depiction of African royalty in Wakanda, I sat numb in awe. Yes, I may not have known this Black Panther existed before the Black Panther Party. Or that he was basically Marvel’s Batman. But I felt justified. Someone opened the door and said “come on in, we’ve been waiting for you.”