Reflections On Black Panther’s Killmonger

My viewpoint is colored by what I see, experience, or what I learned.

I believe life should be this way especially when it comes to apply what is learned.

In school a student is taught to learn from the teacher a task or a principle and be ready to recall this information when the test comes.

This is what I saw in Erik Stevens or Black Panther’s Killmonger.

He was a dream realized to me, he was a revolutionary mind who mastered at the feet of the oppressor and had a goal to use those skills to conquer them.

In the 1973 there was a film called The Spook Who Sat By The Door, it was about a CIA agent who worked his way to the top and excelled in everything he put his hand to while brown nosing to those in charge and stayed in their good graces earning extra training and entering into rooms he as a Black man would’ve never been allowed otherwise.

After gaining the necessary knowledge he goes back to his community and begins to train the gang members and Black teens in combat training, using other’s prejudices against them and covert techniques with the goal of radicalizing these members to overthrow the system he believed caused their pain.

In Black Panther Killmonger has similar verbiage as his father in his motivation for wanting the throne of Wakanda, empower the oppressed with the resources Wakandans freely enjoy.

“Two billion people all over the world who look like us whose lives are much harder, and Wakanda has the tools to liberate them all. Where was Wakanda?”

— Erik Killmonger

Martin Freeman’s character confidently proclaims repeatedly that Killmonger’s action are a direct result of training even going as far as saying “he’s one of us”.

Killmonger had a MIT schooling and went into the Navy Seals and an even more remote sect of that silently destabilizing regimes.

This felt like the perfect training to me and though Killmonger didn’t respect the traditions of the land and continued with violent outbursts the plan of liberating the oppressed sounded appealing to me.

It was reminiscent on quotes I heard from Tupac after he was released from jail.

He filled his mind with books from Sun Tzu’s Art of War to How to Win an Argument Every Time.

He saw the rap landscape as factions waging in war and believed he was the best equipped to handle that power.

“Take the discipline, the seriousness and the bond that the mob had
To take the enthusiasm, the morals, the principles and the strength that the Black Panthers had.
And take the camaraderie, go all out, “We’ll die for you, all of us is a team” that the police had.
The nation is first, whatever it takes to be number one that the United States takes.
That’s what makes me unstoppable.
And take that Nigga attitude that makes me look at all of that shit, study it and learn it
Take the young African American to have the talent to exhibit it
Take the businessman, the philosopher to break it down and that’s what Killuminati is”

— Tupac, Last Interview Ever

Viewing this film multiple times and being obsessed with Tupac quotes I have seen the protecting I’ve done with the character and had to humbling look at what the movie’s viewpoint is with this character.

Killmonger is the villain, he as an African American has dealt with White Supremacy unlike any Wakandan from Nakia to T’Challa.

Though he was radicalized and spoke of liberation through his actions it’s revealed he was bloodthirsty and yearned for total domination promising “the sun will never set on the Wakandan empire”.

With other main characters explaining that was too hateful to be a good king and his lack of remorse even murdering his own love interest to further his personal end goal showed who he truly was.

Instead of wanting to destroy the oppressive system, Killmonger’s true goal was to become the system.

T’Challa believed that Wakanda shouldn’t be “judge, jury, and executioner” for the world especially for outsiders.

Their diametrically opposed viewpoints made for deep reflection and a call to possibly change perspectives.

My beliefs and opinions are still being shaped but I still think using the oppressor’s tools against them could work and is one of the few ways to get their attention and enact change but with great conversations with friends I know see what type of villain Killmonger was and a complete view of how he fit in the story.

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