Film / TV

we are samurais, we are panthers, we are black

May 9, 2019

I’d like to start this off with a round of applause for Chadwick Boseman’s talent and his agent.

Black stories have no limit for we have been present in everything, everywhere, all the time regardless of what society wants different groups in the world to believe about us.

Soon, major audiences will be introduced to the legend of Yasuke, the only person of non-Asian origin to ever become a samurai. Yasuke was believed to be an African from Mozambique who lived in the 1500’s. He served under the Japanese hegemon and warlord Oda Nobunaga from 1581 – 1582. Chadwick Boseman has the honor of sharing Yasuke’s story.

Hollywood and the media certainly lack in the “visual-representation-of-interactions-between-different-groups-of-people-of-color-that-exist-separate-from-the-presence-of-the-white-gaze” department. Centering whiteness in mainstream media is one of the most effective and common ways of upholding white supremacy. Western media predominately controls the narrative of Black people and other minorities, often pencilling us as grey one-dimensional stick figures next to 3-D printed, holographic, bedazzled white characters. It is an evil genius plan that has been proven more efficient than its creators could have ever imagined. Inaccurate and demeaning portrayals of Blackness have globally affected other minorities’ relationship to Blacks.

Stories like Yasuke’s being brought to the big screen make me hopeful for the progression of the perception of Blackness. We should see ourselves in Japan in the 1500’s because we were in Japan in the 1500’s. We’ve been removed but never erased. This removal has resulted in Black people becoming a giant question mark to many — often resulting in the international narrative that we are scary or caricature-like. What better way to eradicate xenophobia than by sharing and normalizing Black stories with the world (especially when they’re true)?

Our stories have no limit and we continue to be present, worldwide, in all time periods. 

I can’t wait to meet Yasuke and hope for more eclectic stories of the Black experience without the looming white gaze the media has grown so accustomed to.