Why America Needs the Women of Wakanda

This week was a roller coaster. I celebrated the anniversary of #droptheball and had an incredible Valentine's Day dinner with my husband, only to wake up the next day to the news of the tragic school shooting in Parkland. My heart was still aching as I walked into the Magic Johnson movie theater in Harlem to see Black Panther, but I left with a renewed sense of optimism about the kind of leadership required to heal our nation and the role that women will play in forging our future.

The females of Wakanda are not without adversity, but their conviction and fortitude is refreshing in a world that often casts us as vixens or damsels in distress. In one scene the newly crowned king, T'Challa, tells his love interest, Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), "You would make a good queen if you weren't so stubborn." She immediately quips back, "I would make a good queen because I am so stubborn." Her self-assuredness made my own back straighter. As a black woman, it was especially breathtaking to see the diversity of thought, expression, and yes, even fighting techniques, of other black women on screen. But the most powerful moments were those in which the female characters found strength by crossing boundaries and asking for help. It was the women in Black Panther who showed us that: "The wise build bridges. The fools build barriers." I'm wishing for our nation as many bridge builders as possible.