The Role of the Afrofuturist Film Black Panther in Teacher Education in South Africa
- by Mamparra
Back in 2018, I was one of the vast number of individuals who went to see Black Panther in theaters all over the world. The film was directed by Ryan Coogler. The narrative depicting an ultra-modern African society that was not influenced in any way by colonialism was hailed as “revolutionary” by both the media and the audience. The film took home three Oscars. Its sequel, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, is currently reigning supreme at the box office and winning praise from critics.
Even though I found the first movie to be enjoyable and entertaining, I couldn’t help but notice that it could also be used as a learning tool. Its Afrofuturistic approach, which involves using the past to envision futures that are different from the historical narratives that are currently prevalent, could, in my opinion, be a facilitator for dispelling myths regarding the history, culture, and tradition of Africa. It could be a way for me to assist my students, who are in the process of becoming educators at a school in South Africa, in overcoming cognitive injustice.
In cognitive terms, cognitive injustice is caused by eurocentrism, which is founded on an erroneous perspective of western or European understanding at the cost of wisdom from the global south.
According to what I’ve discovered in the course of this study, students at a university in the south who are exposed to a curriculum that is monopolized by western knowledge and thinking are at risk of experiencing cognitive injustice.
The ability of educators to overcome their perception of perceptual inequality is a powerful means by which they can facilitate their pupils to question and morph the unstable power relations that exist in society. In a society like that of South Africa, which struggles with issues like gender-based violence, xenophobia, racism, and social injustice, this is an especially pressing issue.
As a result, I decided to carry out a study in which I investigated whether or not watching the film Black Panther caused future educators to think very differently about their identities and the ways in which they relate to others. The movie served as the vehicle through which I conveyed to them the meaning of the term “Afrofuturism.”
I discovered that Black Panther made a major contribution to the students’ consciousness by strengthening the concept that people should be confident about how they look and that beauty is not connected to a majestic, European, or worldwide benchmark, but is, rather, flexible and different for each person.
These educators will be better able to encourage diversification in their future classrooms if they gain an understanding of the significance of identity and employ teaching techniques that are mindful of the various cultures that their students come from.
Vastly Differing Messages
In total, 52 students in training to become teachers took part in the research. They were given the assignment to watch the movie in a theater, after which we talked to them about what they had picked up from it. The students were able to identify with various facets of Black Panther, and it often depended on where they saw themselves fitting in with society.
For example, a number of female students thought that the most intriguing aspect of the movie was its message about the importance of gender equality. These students thought there was a link between the various roles that were played by black actresses in the movie and the actresses’ ability to express themselves physically and emotionally through their performance. They also appeared to have the understanding that the power dynamics of a society may be disrupted when women are provided equal standing within that society. This was another one of their insights.
The vast majority of the students who identified as female were of the opinion that the manner in which women are handled in their societies or community renders them powerless. On the other hand, several of them came away from the movie feeling motivated to fight against the numerous types of prejudice that, in today’s culture, make it challenging for positions to be shared fairly with one another.
Numerous students expressed the opinion that the organizational frameworks and hierarchies of many contemporary African social groups displayed that the continent was still being influenced by the policies of globalization instead of constructing policies that were uniquely suited to its circumstances.
A small number of other students shared their perspectives on the significance of questioning established political norms and bucking established patterns of thought. They were strongly in favor of decolonization, which meant they were moving completely away from the concepts and world views influenced by the global north.
Others, however, asserted that it was crucial to cooperate with others from all over the world instead of operating in isolation, arguing that this would be the most effective course of action. They contended that western and European expertise had significance, but that African wisdom and regulations ought to be at the center of education and instruction on the continent because African knowledge and policies are more relevant.
In my viewpoint, there is a lack of a social action curriculum in South African schools, which would make it difficult for students to learn about the idea of cognitive injustice. Students should always be immersed in an inclusive learning environment that recognizes and appreciates the uniqueness of each student while simultaneously cultivating a sense of community among the students.
My perception is that the Afrofuturistic viewpoint presented in Black Panther inspires students to consider what it is about them that sets them apart from other people and opens them up to conversations about how gender stereotypes and racism influence their experiences in school and beyond.
Uncovering Afrofuturism through the lens of Black Panther ultimately led to the development of decolonizing ideas. That, in turn, has the potential to change the classrooms in which students will learn and teach in the future if those students adopt these ideas. These classrooms would be more equitable and inclusive, providing students with the opportunity to speak their minds and question the standards, values, and attitudes that are prevalent in society.
Back in 2018, I was one of the vast number of individuals who went to see Black Panther in theaters all over the world. The film was directed by Ryan Coogler. The narrative depicting an ultra-modern African society that was not influenced in any way by colonialism was hailed as “revolutionary” by both the media…
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