6 months in and each month I’ve felt a little more home sick. Living in a fast paced city of 28 million with 21,000 making up the American expat community, and a much smaller margin being African-American, at times it’s easy to feel like an outcast. Little did I know that the arrival of a superhero action film would help to mitigate these emotions of loneliness. Hundreds came out (more than 4 to be precise), excited to witness the Black Panther premiere in downtown Shanghai’s Puxi District, completely filling 3 theaters with tickets selling out only days after the announcement, and fans demanding an addition of a third screening. For close to a month Shanghai residents were tasked with avoiding spoiler memes, social media post and updates from excited friends and fans from across the world whom already had the opportunity of experiencing this record breaking Marvel film (now grossing over $1 billion).
On March 9, 2018 “Kristen The Liason” organized an event that many will cherish for a lifetime, and nalagold.com was there to witness it all. The arrival of this film came only weeks after “A Racy Chinese New Year”, and I could feel the energy of the African and African-American expat community as they shared their excitement via WeChat for what was to come in this interesting turn of events.
African themed music selections and dance performances by local talent, a fashion show featuring the models of Shanghai Black Fashion Week, a best dressed contest for the night’s guests and multiple prize give aways from the night’s sponsors (including a pair of Dre Beats), were some of the evening’s highlights.
Fans were encouraged to wear “Black Panther” themed clothing and almost all in attendance happily followed this request. As the night progressed and the fans continued to pour in, the W Hotel’s Woo Bar slowly transformed into “Shanghai Wakanda”! The irony of it all is that although many of the attendees had never before seen the film, the energy of the night reflected what I would soon witness in the actual movie. Beautiful people, the vast majority being people of color, uniting and uplifting one another. Beautiful shades of ebony graced the room complimenting one another; believe me the aura was nothing short of magical and this was my first experience of the sort while living here in Shanghai which made the night even more memorable. For the first time I didn’t feel like the outcast, I felt at home and that’s all thanks to the people of “Shanghai Wakanda”.
Some may say ‘its just a movie”, a fiction super hero movie at that, but to me this film was much more. In many countries the predominant source of information that helps to build their local perspectives for people of different races are vastly comprised of what’s seen on television and through popular social media outlets. Now imagine a billion dollar film company releasing a superhero movie staring an African-American superhero and featuring a leading cast of almost all people of color. What impact do you think that this movie and others like it could have on the world? If nothing else, it most certainly broadens the narrative.