Wakanda State of Mind

Wakanda State of Mind

By Cameron Flowers

Wakanda State of Mind

Anticipating the massive success of Marvel’s Black Panther, many people around the country started planning dope events and movements for its debut. Through my cousin Samantha who was at the time, the co-founder of the Black cultural and events organization Party Blackly, Kheperah and I had the opportunity of being among the organizers of one of the largest premiers of the movie in New York. Hosted at the Battery Park Regal cinemas next to the luxurious Conrad Hotel in lower Manhattan, our event debuted the movie to over 700 beautiful black and brown people ready to take a trip to Wakanda, and dressed in the dopest fits for the journey. We knew we had to come through dripping ourselves so we decided to make some new merch to rock at the event. They say you gotta dress how you feel, and I think my brother would agree with me that it felt powerful-asl rocking that Wakanda State of Mind.


We made the The Wakanda State of Mind as a collaboration between The Dozens and Dev Jam Labs, a Black technology development studio started by Kheperah and I in New York. The WSOM series is a nod to the creative potential that Wakanda has (had) in catalyzing a social movement in Black empowerment in technology, arts and media. The very idea of Wakanda, or any advanced Black technological society, intrinsically centers Black people in positions of power, independent and autonomous in ways that bluntly challenge the heteronormative/colonizer mindset of us as lackin' or deficient. Having a dope Black hero who is equipped with the illest technology, some of the freshest threads, and empowered by a squad of badass Black women, is just the icing on the cake. The fact is that being a member of the powerful society of Wakanda means that you are apart of a larger collective with a shared mindset of dignity, stature, and power. Being a part of Wakanda allows even the meekest of people from that “country" to be seen with the same admiration as the hero himself. Being capable of changing our paradigm to see ourselves within this manner of power is exactly what it means to have a Wakanda State of Mind.


Wakanda can be a reality if we only understand ourselves as the people responsible for its creation. We have the power to challenge any limiting notion about ourselves, and create a radically new reality for our community. Having a Wakanda State of Mind means that you are presently viewing yourself as a powerful member of a community responsible for architecting a future reality of Black political/creative emancipation and functional self-governance. Through the cultivation of our own sources of knowledge, cultural-innovation, and capital we can create Wakanda. It starts within the mind and becomes real through our actions. First things first, we have to accept our power.

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“Is Mr. Cam from Wakanda?”

By Flo Reo

“Is Mr. Cam from Wakanda?”

I could not control my face. That was the question a student asked me at the end of class as kids filed out of our STEAM class. I was proud of myself for managing not to laugh and told her she would find out from him.


Mr. Cam, an iOS developer and guest speaker for the day, had just led a workshop with my class of 4th and 5th grade STEAM students.  


If you know Mr. Cam, then you fully understand how this lovely child could believe in the magic of Wakanda.  Before he speaks, Mr. Cam’s soul has dapped you up, pulled up your chair, and served you a plate. His authenticity and light make him easy to learn from and with.  By the end of a conversation with him, you will not only believe in yourself with new conviction, but you will also have a newfound belief in the collective.


With his “Wakanda State of Mind” shirt, Cam greeted students, who took a few seconds to process the new energy in our space. He introduced himself as an app and website builder, social entrepreneur, artist, rapper, spoken word poet, and inventor. He then proceeded to freestyle, give space for each student to share their personal goals and dreams, walk students through how to build their own apps and college majors. By the end of the class, students were in a state of glee.


When Phoenix learned that Mr. Cam was indeed from Wakanda (why not?), I was reminded of the power of community in the life of a child.  Not just the community you are born into, but the individuals and organizations that choose to foster and nurture your growth. A community that reflects your culture, affirms your identity, goals, and talents, and makes space for you to grow.  That’s the appeal of Wakanda (among so many other things). Many students struggle to grow in the shade of adults who do not stop to see them for the limitless potential and light that they are. All it took for someone to become a fictional superhero was their presence and attention, love, and openness. Wakanda in our classrooms starts there. #WakandaStateOfMind

 

wakanda, the dozens

 

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Building Community Through Wakanda

By kheperah Davis-Ray

Building Community Through Wakanda
Welcome to the Marvel Universe where they have created a fictional black utopia that the Black Panther *Forest Whittaker voice* rules as king, it's so impressive that white people can’t even find it. After seeing it on the big screen three times, I was more than prepared to create my own version of Wakanda that met the same the same requirements, you know a bunch of black people, rich mineral resources and some of the most advanced technology. Marvels glorification on the creative technology and large amount of vibranium opened my eyes to the parallels between Marvel Universe and the continent Africa. The kingdom of Wakanda symbolized more than their material goods it demonstrated a black civilization that was civilized. This stood out the most to me because most media outlets and external publications don’t depict people of color in a positive light.

This movie was more than inspiring it provided a number of ideas to spark great conversations and if shined a positive light for a fictional Africa. After all, I had to consistently remind myself it was only a movie, however every time I watched the movie I got a warm sense of pride seeing characters that look like me and portray themselves in rolls that glorified their love and passion for their communities. Overall I felt inspired, I knew this was an opportunity to express myself through the movie so that we could build a movement. Our Wakanda State of Mind merch allowed us to focus on Wakanda the County instead of the hero Black Panther. There was a ton of rich symbology that paid homage to a number of different African tribes and communities it took to build the movie. With that on my mind, I knew that the best way to build my version of Wakanda was through the community. There was a holistic approach to the depiction of their society and it was a reminder that it's possible to build similar values into our community.

Taking to the most traditional method we knew to sell the merch, I decided to reach out to my network to receive their advice on how to sell our content the best. I got suggestions to market in front of every movie theatre as well as reach out to the actor's socials, both of which would take time but would pay off. After getting their advice, Cameron and I discovered a number of ways to sell the shirts, however, our demand was higher than our supply. We had to figure out what would be the best means of selling the shirts and fulfilling each shipment, with the help of our far and friends plus wix we had an up and running site that showcased the Wakanda State of Mind Long Sleeve T-shirts. The opening week of the movie, Cameron and I had the opportunity to assist Party Blackly in hosting a Black Panther Premier at the Downtown Regal Cinema, some of the perks of working with their company were that we saw how many people were willing to mobilize on a black event. Throughout the entire theatre, there were tons of black and brown people engaging and looking forward to the movie. The entire experience was beyond surprising the amount of unity, free expression and everybody dressed up if they were starting in the movie themselves.

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