The New York Times’ Style section features an article which asks the most pressing question of our time: “Who’s Allowed to Wear a Black Panther Mask?”
Kwame Opam’s article is accentuated with some provocative artwork showing a very sad black child being led away by his mom from the “sold out” Black Panther toys. As he peers back at the empty shelves, a white mom and son are smiling broadly because they have bought the last Black Panther “action claw” at the store.
In his article, Opam writes about “the many meanings of Black Panther’s mask.” He is concerned about the “dual significance” that children might encounter: “At best, the character get-ups speak to the enthusiastic embrace of a black superhero. At worst, they could be perceived as an unwitting form of cultural appropriation, which has in recent years become a subject of freighted discourse.”
But kids aren’t thinking about these “deeper” meanings. They want a cool-looking mask to wear, they don’t care what skin color is underneath. Besides, kids of all colors dress as Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and Captain America without a second thought. It’s leftist parents who are “conflicted” about letting their kids enjoy the next Marvel installment or ruin it for them with talk of racism and anti-colonialism.
One thing Opam stressed was that wearing the black mask of a fictional African character isn’t the same as wearing blackface. Good to know! But just wait until NYT’s art becomes reality and suddenly any whites buying up all the Black Panther gear will be called racists.
Of course, that may take some time since some white people are delaying their visit to the movie theater: