In my family, my father constantly quoted Obi Wan Kinobi to my mother: “I have been waiting for you Obi Wan. And now the circle is complete! When we met I was but a student, but now I am the Master!” As a little girl, I would see my mother’s eyes roll, my father laugh, and would wonder why he was always telling her this!
My cousin, Jason, is an artist, and is the one who allowed me to sit and watch him draw (I love you, Motor!)–and let dreaming of becoming a ninja-ballerina was possible. From being the 6-year-old girl that loved to watch him draw, to the 8-year-old girl that learned her hands–with her 10 fingers–could bend 26 letters, had to wait until she was a 36, 37 year old woman before she saw a superhero that looked like her. That looked like ME. I had to wait 30 year to see that!
I remember being in the theater to see Black Panther Opening Night. After the Marvel theme played, I almost cried as the myth of the Black Panther played. I almost sobbed. I couldn’t imagine what it was like being the older gentleman 3 seats down from me. What I saw as this man that was old enough to be my older brother watch in rapt attention at the beginning of the movie, only to have his face in his hands by the end of it. I could only wonder how long he had waited for this. How long had he waitied to see a superhero that looked like him, be celebrated like other icons like Superman, Batman, Spider-Man or Captain America?
How long had he waited to see him on screen?
When the movie was over, I heard a group of three Black men discussing comics and MCU/Marvel Comic fan theory. I threw my arms around them–because it made sense to do! The question I still held in my heart was, “How long have they waited?”
I wanted to ask him how long did they imagine themselves as superheroes–redrawing Iron-Man, Batman or Green Lantern with their faces?
How long had they hidden in their rooms or in libraries or other bookstores searching or hunting for Black Panther, Static Shock or any one that looked like them?
As I thought about this, I thought about the man I sat 3 seats down from. I thought about Jason; I thought about the quiet young men in my elementary school classes who were made fun of drawing–knowing more about paper and ink universes than what girl was cute, or what game was on the night before. I thought about the guys I knew in college who made their own comics, with no support–or knowledge from anyone. My heart became sad.
How long had they waited?
Why had they waited so long?
My heart began to gush when I saw young Black boys born during time of T’Chaka and T’Challa onscreen! I began to cry tears of joy knowing that their was a veil that was rent–Black nerds, Black geeks have always be here. And now, there is more recorded proof they are never going way again: erasure is not an option!
For the boys, now men, that read the old Black Panther comics powered by the wisdom and power of Christopher Priest? I see you. For the little Black boys called names because they were quiet–because they were creating worlds in their heads, I see you.
For the little boys that will pretend they are T’Challa, have their own vibrainium suits when they wear new shoes? I see you.
For the boys that cheered at Miles Morales, Static Shock, Cyborg and (a Black) Green Lantern? I see you. Create. Read. Re-read. Play D&D. Play Chess. Study the fan theory surrounding Tony Stark, and realize that RiRi “IronHeart” Williams will be coming to the MCU one day. Put your comics up on WebToons. Write the books, sell the out of the car if you have to! But you are seen. You are supported. You are valid. And I cannot wait to see what else you bring to the world.