Why Wakanda Matters: What Black Panther Reveals About Psychology, Identity, and Communication

Why Wakanda Matters: What Black Panther Reveals About Psychology, Identity, and Communication

by Sheena C. Howard (Editor)
Why Wakanda Matters: What Black Panther Reveals About Psychology, Identity, and Communication

Why Wakanda Matters: What Black Panther Reveals About Psychology, Identity, and Communication

by Sheena C. Howard (Editor)


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In 2018, the Marvel Cinematic Universe finally delivered on something fans had long been waiting for: a feature film with a solo Black superhero.

Black Panther introduced viewers to the stunning world of Wakanda, a fictional African country with incredible technological advancements, and to T'Challa, a young man stepping into his role as king and taking up the mantle of the Black Panther title from his late father.

The unforgettable story, coupled with the film's mega-success, has undoubtedly shaped the future of superhero cinema, in addition to genuinely changing viewers' lives. Why Wakanda Matters gives this iconic film the in-depth analysis it deserves under the lens of the latest psychological concepts-as well as delving into the lasting cultural impact of this unforgettable story.

Edited by Sheena C. Howard, an award-winning author, filmmaker, and scholar, Why Wakanda Matters: What Black Panther Reveals About Psychology, Identity, and Communication features a collection of essays from leading experts in a variety of fields who offer insightful perspectives on topics such as:

   • Cognitive dissonance: The important messages within T'Challa's nuanced identity and eventual shift from nationalism to globalism.
   • Intergenerational trauma and resistance: How N'Jadaka (aka Erik/Killmonger) identifies with the trauma that his ancestors have suffered.
   • Social identity: How Nakia, Shuri, Okoye, and Ramonda—all empowered, intelligent, and assertive women of color—can make a lasting impression on women and girls.
   • Collective identity: How Black Panther has created a shared fantasy for Black audience members—and why this is groundbreaking.
   • Cultural and racial identity: What we can learn from Black Panther's portrayal of a culture virtually untouched by white supremacy.

Fans of the movie and those interested in deeper discussions about the film will revel in this thought-provoking examination of all aspects of Black Panther and the power of psychology.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781950665419
Publisher: BenBella Books, Inc.
Publication date: 02/02/2021
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 258,222
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Sheena C. Howard, is associate professor of communication. She is an award-winning author, filmmaker, and scholar. In 2014, Sheena became the first Black woman to win an Eisner Award for her first book, Black Comics: Politics of Race and Representation. She is also the author of several critically acclaimed books and comics books on a range of topics. Sheena is a writer and image activist, with a passion for telling stories, through various mediums, that encourage audiences to consider narratives that are different than their own. In 2014, Sheena published Black Queer Identity Matrix and Critical Articulations of Race, Gender and Sexual Orientation. Sheena is the author/editor of the award-winning book Encyclopedia of Black Comics and the cowriter of the comic book Superb, about a teenage superhero with Down syndrome. In 2016, through her company Nerdworks, LLC, Sheena directed, produced, and wrote the documentary Remixing Colorblind, which explores the ways the educational system shapes our perception of race and "others."

Table of Contents

Foreword Phillip Boutté Jr. xv

Introduction Sheena C. Howard xxiii

Part I Psychology Of Collective Identity And Connectedness

Chapter 1 Cross My Heart and Hope to Die in Wakanda: Expressions of Solidarity in Black Panther Felicia Stewart 3

Chapter 2 The Symbolic, the Real, and the Ladies of Wakanda Claudia Bucciferro 17

Chapter 3 Wakanda, Pan-Afrikanism, and the Afrikana Worldview: A Representation of the New Afrikana Nation Olisa Yaa Tolókun Aynda Mariama Kanyama-Jackson 35

Part II Psychology Of Racial Identity

Chapter 4 Killmonger and the Wretched of the Earth Dominique Thomas 59

Chapter 5 The Black Panther Is Black Mikhail Lyubansky Erynn Nicholson 71

Chapter 6 The Oreo, the King, and the Wakandan Salute: What Black Panther Shows Us About Why Representation Matters Mercedes Samudio 89

Chapter 7 Ritual in Black Panther: The Decolonization of African Narratives and Implications for the Reclamation of African Spiritual Identification and Practice Chateé Omísadé Richardson L. Nzingha Samuel 103

Part III Psychology Of Intergenerational Trauma And Resistance

Chapter 8 Erik Killmonger and the Psychology of Inner-City Trauma Chateé Omísadé Richardson 121

Chapter 9 Black Radical Thought as Pathology in Black Panther Charles Athanasopoulos 137

Chapter 10 Vibranium Healing Mishelle Rodriguez 149

Chapter 11 N'Jadaka and Intergenerational Trauma: A Case Study of Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome Olisa Yaa Tolókun 171

Part IV Psychology Of Cognition And Identification

Chapter 12 Representation, Identification, and Pride: Teaching with (and Through) Black Panther Evan Jones 191

Chapter 13 Identification and Decentering Whiteness in Black Panther Tehia Starker Glass Joseph W. Allen Gishawn A. Mance 207

Chapter 14 Cognitive Dissonance and T'Chaila's Evolution Sheena C. Howard 227

Afterword Sheena C. Howard 241

About the Editor 247

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“The essays, a well-balanced combination of contemporary thought and historical analysis, will leave readers eager for another viewing.”

—Publishers Weekly

“It is refreshing to see inclusion of Afrikana worldview, Fanonian theory, decolonization, and African spiritual identity in the analyses of the popular media phenomenon that is Black Panther. This work further exposes readers to tenets of Black psychology that are unrepresented in Western psychology.”

—Michele K. Lewis, psychology professor, member of the Association of Black Psychologists, and author of Our Biosocial Brains: Cultural Neuroscience of Bias, Power, and Injustice

Why Wakanda Matters is a tour de force centered on identity, perception, and racial trauma. The essayists give readers a new way of looking at the classic film Black Panther, as well as capitalism, US history, and nationalism. Why Wakanda Matters isn't one of those books that you read once and toss to the side. It is an inspirational book that one should carefully read at least once a year. This opus will live for generations to come.”

—Darryl Robertson, former staff writer for VIBE magazine, whose work has also appeared in Ebony, XXL, Billboard, Salon, Black Perspectives, and Washington Post

Why Wakanda Matters situates the meaningful, mythical, and the phantasmagorical aspects of Wakanda within the promise of a more just and representational reality. Taken together, the chapters tell us why #WakandaForever is more than a hashtag; it’s a movement for and among fans, activists, scholars, and dreamers.”

—Deborah Elizabeth Whaley, professor of American Studies and African American Studies at the University of Iowa and author of Black Women in Sequence: Reinking Comics, Graphic Novels, and Anime

"Sheena Howard continues to make extraordinary contributions to comic scholarship. Why Wakanda Matters is another exceptional volume in her impressive catalog."

—Joel Christian Gill, cartoonist and historian

“Each essay breathes life into the layered discourse around the utility of the Black radical imagination and the inherent and necessary joy regarding Blackness and speculation. Why Wakanda Matters is a great guide to the newest addition to Blackness in conversation with radicalized spatial narratives.”

—John Jennings, New York Times bestselling illustrator of the Eisner Award–winning graphic novel adaptation of Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

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