Show them Who you are: Black Panther and the Importance of Identity

First of all, Wakanda forever. If you have not seen Black Panther, I highly suggest you do. I’m actually not quite sure what you are waiting for. Its lit AF. And in true artistic fashion this film has surged a spirit of celebrating and praising Blackness and Black womanhood–my two favorite things. With that, I may spoil some scenes and events. Nonetheless, my second viewing of the film had me dissecting the motif–identity. The reoccurring question “Who are you?” led me to affirm the idea that understanding who you are, whom you represent and of what your abilities hold could lead one to great success, prosperity and triumph.

Identity: noun| the fact of being who or what a person or thing is.


Self-doubt and I battle almost constantly. Although I am learning to affirm confidence, a voice creeps in like the cold of night dissuading me from my greatness. It says, “you are not good enough,” “you can not do this,” “you are unequipped and unprepared.” Sometimes self-doubt wins this battle. Sometimes I am triumphant. Nonetheless, the hoe is aggravated AF. The time I spend trying to convince myself that I am good enough, I can do it, I am able and prepared seems like a waste of time the more and more it occurs. I am in the process of training my brain to focus on what is good and what is true instead of allowing self-doubt to poison my time. As I watched Black Panther I recognized T’Challa, Nakia, and Okoye have the perfect weapons for my next battle with self-doubt.

Break it down, B:

The question  “Who are you” is asked multiple times in the movie, Black Panther. The first time identity emerges in Oakland, California when the “Grace Jones looking” solider’s asks Killmonger’s dad to confirm his identity. The motif–identity– is refined during T’Challa’s ritual challenge with M’Baku’s fine ass. M’Baku almost defeats T’Challa; then, the queen mother, Angela Bassett, says, “show him who you are.” At that moment, T’Challa recites his name, his lineage, and his purpose. This recitation fuels him enough to cause M’Baku to yield. Next,  Killmonger’s identity is questioned twice. When he arrives to Wakanda for the first time, the fuck boy, “W’Kabi” asks, “who are you” after he recognized Klaw in a body bag. Later, Killmonger begs the counsel of elders to ask him who he is, so he can demystify his claim to the throne. After he recites his name and lineage, all hell breaks lose proving there is power in affirming your identity.

In addition to the reoccurring question, the women of Black Panther highlight what it means to be a Black Woman in the most gangsta ways possible. The women characters featured in the movie were ethereal. They fought wars, created new technology, planned missions, healed the sick, nurtured living things, flew aircrafts, saved victims from captivity, loved and fought for and along side the men they cherished. They did all of these things with the most grace, style, and healthy natural hair. Okoye, herself, showed us power, strength, loyalty, and assertiveness with every battle she fought, with every spear swing, and with every command to her army. Nakia demonstrated kindness, rational thinking and compassion for her people inside and outside of Wakanda. Truthfully, if T’Challa would have listened to her in the beginning of the movie, there would not have been a need for a civil war, for she first suggested sharing Wakandan resources with the world initially. It was her that loved so much she lived a life of which she felt she was needed to alleviate others from pain and turmoil. The characteristics these women exhibited coincide with all I know a Black woman to be–even when I/she doubts.

With the memory of these characters in mind, I am able to visually recall and reclaim what it means to be a Black Woman as well as who I am at my core– even when I don’t want to believe it. We are strong, wise, kind, assertive, nurturing, rational, and a reason to submit. When affirming an identity such as that, self-doubt, fear, low-self esteem, uncertainty, anxiety, and low-self confidence cannot and will not win. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made.(Psalm 139:14) We need only to identify ourselves with the way God has made us in order to continue to live joyously and to work towards our purposes without hesitation. With that, the next time raggedy ass self-doubt attempts to challenge you, tell it who you are.

Pay Homage:

Such a spirituality will guide us into witness that helps us decide how we are going to love ourselves and one another rather than rely on popular culture, even our own popular culture, to tell us who we have been, who we are, and where we are heading, and how we are to behave with one another in justice and hope.

-Emilie M. Townes (In a Blaze of Glory)


  1. Remember who you are.
  2. Cultivate confidence in your abilities.
  3. #WakandaForever

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