Killmonger is the real hero for those who refuse to assimilate into an elitist Blackness that leaves many behind
By Erin White
February 19, 2018
For many, Killmonger represents the distinction between black excellence and black elitism by calling attention to the systematic oppression of black people of the diaspora while the people of Wakanda are, essentially, hoarding resources and isolating themselves from reality while black people suffer.
In the case of Black Panther, the blacks of Wakanda have an inherited wealth in the form of vibranium and, of course, the supernatural existence and isolation of the country itself. Both of these advantages have protected Wakandans from colonialism, leaving the rest of the world’s black populations to defend themselves with not even a fraction of the resources. It is here where Killmonger makes his strongest argument against Wakanda and its kings. And their system of governance which left him fatherless.
As the story unfolds, we learn that the leaders of Wakanda have formed a pact with the colonial white leaders of the world that grants them security and safety virtually no other black person on the planet has never had.
“The Wakandans made a pact with the white European colonial powers: if you don’t make war on Wakanda, Wakandans will turn a blind eye to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and European colonialism of the rest of Africa,” writes Todd Steven Burroughs for The Root begging the question, if Wakanda could have helped fellow Africans, why didn’t they?
“There are subgroups of Black people who use the concept of Black excellence to enact Black elitism. My family members call them bougie. On Black Twitter, they’re called ‘blavity Blacks.’ They represent a population of Black people who have either achieved or inherited a wealthy, or at least upper middle class position (…) And just like Wakandan history, Black elitism runs deep and stings in its militancy”, writes Sesali Bowen in Refinery29.
Killmonger had no time for isolated Black elites who only want to help themselves under the false guise of ‘Black excellence’.
“Bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships. Because they knew death was better than bondage.” – Killmonger
“Throughout the African diaspora, the black-white power balance remains as it is courtesy of Jim Crow practices designed to keep minorities in check: persistent segregation, broken drug laws, racially targeted policing, disproportionately high incarceration rates — all of which are identified and indicted by Coogler’s truth-to-power script. Arm the oppressed, Killmonger passionately argues,” writes Peter Debruge for Variety.
Killmonger as a metaphor for black rage, isn’t wrong or unfair and this rage draws an organic line between the fiction of Wakanda and the realities of the black diaspora. By rooting part of the film’s story in Oakland circa 1992, home of the Black Panther Party (did you peep the Huey P. Newton poster in the apartment?), filmmaker Ryan Coogler is referencing a sense of “by any means necessary” with Killmonger’s ferocious attitude.
However, the character is flawed. His irrationality, and propensity for violence are what make him a villain. That and the fact that his first act as King was to choke out an elderly woman and burn down ancient practices.