Some Thoughts on Black Panther, from a White Dude


I love this movie. Love. I think it’s probably the best overall film Marvel’s come out with, viewed holistically. I might like a certain action scene or the humor in another movie more BUT, taken as a whole, Black Panther is STRONG. Top three, if not top of the list.

And, I have confirmed, very rewatchable.

I’ve been struggling with what else – if anything – to say about the movie, and honestly trying to decide if I should say anything about it. I love it, and I think it’s great, and I think if you haven’t seen it, and you’re someone in my circles, you probably should, because you’ll like it.

But what else?

I mean, the empowerment and representation in this movie is not mine, and that is an inarguable good, so maybe I should just shut the fuck up about it.

Maybe no one wants to hear that I think Blank Panther also has something important to say to me and other white guys. Maybe I don’t even need to step into the “what Black Panther has to say” conversation at all.

And if you feel that way, I respect that, and you should definitely tune this next bit out.

Because… this movie is about Wakanda, right?

And what’s Wakanda?

Wakanda is, by all accounts (including the exposition in the movie) a pretty blessed country. It has resources and advantages no one else in the world has. It has made advances no one else in the world has, and in fact enjoys benefits no one else in the world even imagines can be.

“You guys have hoverbikes?!?”

It has, in short, all the best stuff.

And, at the start of the movie (and throughout the fictional history of this country) what Wakanda does with these gifts is:

  • use them to protect itself
  • preserve its advantage
  • ensure that everyone else’s problems do not become its problems.

So… basically… white men in the real world.

And without discussing spoilers, I will say this.

The movie demonstrates a healthy, helpful, I think necessary path forward for anyone with those kinds of advantages.

And it’s not more guns.

It’s not war and occupation in every country we don’t agree with.

It’s not continuing the same selfish, inward-focused, personal preservation that has been our go-to move throughout history.

In a time of conflict, fools builds a wall barriers, and the wise build bridges.



Without (I hope) taking anything away from everyone to whom this movie will speak much more fully, much more emotionally, and much more personally, I hope I can say that it also has something to tell a middle-aged white dude.

And I’m going to shut up and take notes, because it’s got a hell of a good point.

Another way to (safely) view the eclipse: Waffle Fingers!

Just cross the outstretched, slightly open fingers of one hand over the outstretched, slightly open fingers of the other. Then, with your back to the Sun, look at your hands’ shadow on the ground. The little spaces between your fingers will project a grid of small images on the ground. During the partial phases of the solar eclipse, these images will reveal the Sun's crescent shape, as shown in the accompanying photo.

This is not New

The first time the president’s name appeared on the front page of the New York Times was more than 40 years ago. “Major Landlord Accused of Antiblack Bias in City,” read the headline of the A1 piece on Oct. 16, 1973, which pointed out how Richard Nixon’s Department of Justice had sued the Trump family’s real estate company in federal court over alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act.

Over the next four decades: he was accused of ordering “all the black employees off the floor” of his Atlantic City casinos during his visits; claimed “laziness is a trait in blacks” and “not anything they can control”; requested Jews “in yarmulkes” replace his black accountants; told Bryan Gumbel that “a well-educated black has a tremendous advantage over a well-educated white in terms of the job market”; demanded the death penalty for a group of black and Latino teenagers accused of raping a jogger in Central Park (and, despite their later exoneration with the use of DNA evidence, has continued to insist they are guilty); suggested a Native American tribe “don’t look like Indians to me”; mocked Chinese and Japanese trade negotiators by doing an impression of them in broken English; described undocumented Mexican immigrants as “rapists”; compared Syrian refugees to “snakes”; defended two supporters who assaulted a homeless Latino man as “very passionate” people “who love this country”; pledged to ban a quarter of humanity from entering the United States; proposed a database to track American Muslims that he himself refused to distinguish from the Nazi registration of German Jews; implied Jewish donors “want to control” politicians and are all sly negotiators; heaped praise on the “amazing reputation” of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who has blamed America’s problems on a “Jewish mafia”; referred to a black supporter at a campaign rally as “my African-American”; suggested the grieving Muslim mother of a slain U.S. army officer “maybe … wasn’t allowed” to speak in public about her son; accused an American-born Hispanic judge of being “a Mexican“; retweeted anti-Semitic and anti-black memes, white supremacists, and even a quote from Benito Mussolini; kept a book of Hitler’s collected speeches next to his bed; declined to condemn both David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan; and spent five years leading a “birther” movement that was bent on smearing and delegitimizing the first black president of the United States, who Trump also accused of being the founder of ISIS.

This is not news.

The news is, we’re letting him run the country.

On Punching Nazis, Part Three

Maybe you don't want to punch Nazis because you don't want to punch anybody, but you want to do SOMETHING. That's fair. (I don't want to punch anyone either, though I've decided I will make an exception in the case of Nazis, but that is my choice, not yours.)

Maybe you wouldn't mind punching Nazis, and there are no Nazis around to punch, but you feel you must to do something. Also fair.

Here's what you do.

Love somebody who needs it right now.

Talk to the brown-skinned guy with the accent who, like you, is standing in the Home Depot, waiting to see if the employee can find any eclipse-rated welding goggle lenses in inventory.

Tell your black or jewish coworkers how sorry and frustrated and goddamn ANGRY you are that this country has allowed this poison for so long, pretending it wasn't there.

They will know what you mean. They've always known. We're the ones who've just figured it out, and shame on us.

Find your lesbian, gay, bi, transgender, queer friends and ask them what they need. (Don't ask how you can help – don't make them do the mental labor of finding a place for self-important YOU in their trouble – ask them what they NEED and fit yourself to that.)

If you don't have such friends, get out in the world and fucking FIX that.

Love someone who needs it right now.

Love someone who needs it, right now.

Someone who isn't like you.

Someone Other.

There are a lot of them, and they need it right now.

WE need it right now.

If you need to do something. Do that.

Happy 4th

“[They] agreed that it was neither possible nor necessary to educate people who never questioned anything.”

— Joseph Heller, Catch-22


You're Already Outnumbered

My kids are alike in many ways, but they are definitely individuals in ways I've tried to articulate in the past.

Yesterday, they gave me a single story that illustrates each of them, perfectly.

We had to drop off Kaylee at camp, and after the paperwork and unpacking in the cabin, everyone was supposed to assemble at 'the field' to say goodbyes and play games.

So we went down there, and see about forty kids milling around, visiting, et cetera. There's a makeshift kickball field, and a couple boys about a year younger than Kaylee, kicking a soccer ball back and forth.

Sean goes over near them, and is watching intently.

One of the kids notices this, and veers off his direction, letting the soccer ball roll over near the edge of the field by the trees and long grass.

"Do you want a ball too?" he asks Sean, extending a old, dirty, yellow rubber ball. "You can have this one. Do you want it?"

He keeps offering it, and asking, over and over, until Sean finally shrugs and reaches for it.

At which point the kid chucks it backwards over his own shoulder and has a good laugh with his buddy.

And here are my kids:

Sean frowns at the kid, shrugs as if to say "whatever man, I don't even know you, and that ball was gross anyway" and stalks off to do something else.

Kaylee, who'd been standing next to me, takes a couple steps forward and starts in. "Really?!? You're starting off a week of camp, WITH ME, and the first thing you do is pick on my little brother? THAT seemed like a good idea? Really?!?"

And the boy backs off and rejoins his friend. They both realize they don't have the soccer ball anymore. It's over at the edge of the field.

Actually, while all this was going on, Zoe went over and picked it up, and she's standing right where it had rolled.

They walk over, bending over and talking in that "charm little kids" high voice.

"Hiiiii. Can we have that? Can you give that to us?" They pause. "Do you want to kick it to us?"

Zoe looks at the ball, extends it out toward them…

… and CHUCKS it back over her shoulder, into the trees and long grass.

Then walks away, without even looking at them.

So… my kids, in summary:

– Indifference
– Drama


In Album 6/26/17

I'm not going to lie: this makes me pretty happy after a lot of terrible environment-related news

"Americans will honor and fulfill the Paris Agreement by leading from the bottom up – and there isn't anything Washington can do to stop us," Bloomberg said.

Actually, let me take that "not going to lie" a bit further: I cried a little when I read this, grateful and a little shocked.

I don't know much about Bloomberg (though I like what I do know); I certainly don't know if he's a good person or not.

But the guy just stepped up and promised concrete action to protect my kids, and a ball of tension I didn't even realize I was holding unwound a little.

‘Washington can’t stop Americans’: Michael Bloomberg pledges to pay US share of Paris climate funding
US billionaire Michael Bloomberg has offered $15 million to UN efforts to tackle climate change after President Donald Trump announced he is pulling the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord.