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Black Panther Musings From Guadeloupe

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Les Marches des Esclaves

No surprise, like seemingly everyone else, I am completely mesmerized with Black Panther🙅🏾. Since seeing the previews, I’ve been nerding out about it and  bugging my guy, a major Marvel fan, to see it with me. I had him explain the origin story, watched the same trailers over and over with me and unabashedly admitted, “Yes, I’m excited to see it because of all of the beautiful black people in it. Black people are lit; we make everything better, and we’re going to kill the Marvel game too.” The box office sales proved me right. The movie is visually stunning. Mesmerizing. Champions black people, black women and Africa. As they wandered through Wakanda, I saw the Africa the West Africa and sub-Saharan Africa I am dying to explore. It’s why I stan for Spirited Pursuit. One of my biggest inspirations.

Finally seeing it, I now have Pantheritis: reading think pieces, having discussions about Afro-futurism, laughing about wigs and colonizers. Are you a Killmonger, or a T’Challa?

Now — I’m going to try to be as vague as possible so this isn’t a spoiler. One of the moments that resonated the most to me is Killmonger’s line.

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Oddly enough, this is a question I think about quite often this time of year. My awesome tax guy, Al, is a collector of African masks and has been to a few countries in West Africa. Masks adorn his office and it inevitably comes up about his time in Senegal and his visit to the Doors of No Return. The final exit point of the slaves from Africa, millions of Africans were pushed through this door during the slave trade, taking their last glimpse of home to be shipped to the American colonies, Brazil, the West Indies etc.

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View from the top of the steps in Petit Canal. The harbor where the French would bring in the slaves.

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Today, while in Guadeloupe, I did my first day of a Black History tour and saw the other end of the journey, for those — like my ancestors (my family is West Indian) — who did get on that boat vs. jump. In Petit Canal, Les Marches des Esclaves, The Steps of the Slaves are the end of the journey (and the beginning of another brutal one). Now a beautiful memorial highlighting the tribes from Africa where the Guadeloupeans hail, these daunting steps led to the slave market on top. Marched up the stairs, they had no idea what awaited . The particularly unruly ones were held in a cell nearby.

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prison cells for holding the unruly slaves and ones that weren’t sold

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Killmonger was radicalized by circumstance and environment. And I understand the narrative making those that jumped martyrs, but there is a strength and resilience in facing the unknown as well. Not killing yourself because you have some hope, some faith that you have to make it back to your loved ones. Without their strength, resistance and the ability to endure the unspeakable, I wouldn’t be here, talking to you, telling their story.

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next to plaque for the Congo tribe

I’m so happy to be in Guadeloupe experiencing this. What are your thoughts on Killmonger, his views? Have you been on a tour understanding the slave trade?

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would you have the strength to walk up these steps?

 

 

 

 

*You need to book a trip on Norwegian and get here now! I’m so tired, but I can’t sleep thinking about all that I’ve learned today. And it’s a gorgeous island on top of it all.

 

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