Black Panther, The Movie

Black Panther - King T'Challa, Nakia and Okoye

Nakia and Okoye flank T’Challa in Black Panther. Marvel/Disney

Recently, I went to view the movie Black Panther with friends after hearing so much about it, and the movie lived up to all the hype.  Black Panther was amazing – thrilling, adventurous and engaging!  Themes of  rivalry, betrayal, leadership, and loyalty were all intertwined with pure technological and creative genius.  It was also filled with good lessons about life and being true to what’s true for you.

The Black Panther, King T’Challa, takes the throne after his father’s death; settling into his role as king, he soon discovers a family secret that his father had kept from everyone except for his trusted aide.  At the same time, young King T’Challa struggles to keep his country safe by both hoarding its most precious and valuable resource, Vibranium, which in the wrong hands could be disasterous.  The Black Panther also was preventing immigrants from entering the country, exhausting its resources and negatively impacting their way of life, as he assumed would happen if he opened their borders.

We see the king becoming the man and leader that he needs to be for himself, his family and his country.  Along the way, we can see how the secret problem that his father left behind at his death (a child born outside the country to T’Challa’s uncle) becomes both one of the Black Panther’s and his country’s worse nightmares, and serves as a catalyst for change that helps the Blank Panther and his staff identify the lines of demarcation within themselves and within others close to them. The tares within the kingdom become more identifiable and pits the king and his staff against people they care for and once trusted.  This becomes a good thing because it brings clarity to all concerned about what they need to do and what is right for them and their country.  A battle ensues that will help the country free itself from its arch-enemy – the abandoned, wicked son of T’Challa’s uncle – to become a greater and more socially responsible country.

Black Panther was a winner for me for several reasons.  First, the movie in many ways was true to life in that it reveals the internal struggle we all face when confronted with conflicting choices concerning our values, beliefs and those we love.  And more importantly, the movie showed how different characters faced such conflicts, and aligned head and heart with their truth and what was right for them.

These hard choices could be seen when the king’s lead bodyguard General Okoye had to (a) decide between her duty to protect and serve king and country, regardless of who the reigning king was, or abondon her duty to the throne based on her dislike for the wicked cousin who had overthrown the Black Panther, and (b) choose to fight for what’s right and true in her heart, even if it means losing the man she loves in the process, or holding on to him and against her own conscience rejecting her truth, when she comes face-to-face with her lover in a battle to reclaim the throne for T’Challa.

Then, there was a similar situation with Nakia, the ex-girlfriend that the Black Panther, King T’Challa, still loved.  Nakia had to decide to go back to her life elsewhere so she could be true to her passion for helping the less fortunate or staying with King T’Challa and walking away from her ministry to the needy, since she and King T’Challa had differing opinions about allowing these immigrants into the country.  And, King T’Challa  himself struggled to let go of old ways and processes that did not add value to his personal life, his country or its international relations, and their ability to affect positive change.

Second, the movie shows that positive change is possible when we commit to truth and doing what is right and good for ourselves and others.  Thus, the Black Panther was able to make right some wrongs in his thinking and in previous poor decisions made by his deceased father that had left the country in turmoil.  Whereas before, he primarily focused on potential problems – the danger of the Vibranium in the hands of others, the negative impact of immigration and helping the needy, and separation from the woman he loved in order for her to fulfill her purpose.  King T’Challa went no further than those negative thoughts, and concluded that things had to remain the same to avoid safety issues.  Eventually, however, he began to focus on potential solutions more than problems, and found that allowing things to remain the same was not an option that would yield the results he wanted.

Thus, Black Panther shows us that at our point of need and/or pain, we have the greatest potential for positive change, if we’re willing to take one positive action at a time. 


T’Challa/Black, Nakia and General Okoye on a mission to find a thief.  (Photo: Marvel Studios)

Third, the movie was “real” as some would say, meaning it was an honest depiction of human behavior, especially in the Black community.  In one particularly “real” scene, General Okoye went on a mission with the Black Panther, Nakia and Shuri, his technology savvy sister, to locate a thief who had stolen and planned to sell one of his country’s Vibranium artifacts.  On this mission, they had to dress the part in order to fit into their surroundings. (Keep in mind that the General Okoye is strong, fearless, no-nonsense and bald!) So on this mission, General Okoye wore a red dress, high-heel shoes and a long, flowing wig –  all of which was out of character for her and cramped her style.  When the three of them located the thief they were looking for in a club, a fight ensued, and General Okoye, who was an excellent warrior, pulled the wig off her head and tossed it! I assume ditching the wig helped her to not only fight more effectively but feel more like the warrior that she was.  How true that is to life. I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve seem my mom pull off her wig in public, if she was tired and especially if she got hot!  And, in church on Sunday, one of the female ministers at church, who shall remain nameless, got excited while speaking to the congregation and alluded to pulling off her wig if she got too much more excited about praising God! Of course laughter erupted all over the church.


Shuri, Nakia, General Okoye and Queen Ramonda 

Lastly, the movie was great because it instilled a sense of pride in one’s self and your lineage, and that’s something that the Black community, especially needs.  This pride is not so we can go out and try to take over anything or move to Africa, as some naysayers have suggested.  Most Black people do not want to go back to Africa.  We were never there!  So, all we can do is go visit.  I’m sure many of our ancestors from a time gone by were in Africa; but those of us here now, were never there so there’s nothing in Africa for us to go back to.  The pride I’m referring to is soul affirming.  Everyone needs a little affirmation and feel-good support sometimes, especially when you are a part of a population of people who have for generations been made to feel disempowered, less-than, useless for nothing more than hard labor, low-wage jobs, producing offspring, and making money to build wealth for others.  It takes a different kind of person to understand and/or empathize with where Blacks and other populations who have experienced generations of such prejudice, abuse, inhumanity and other hardships imposed upon them by the society and/or country that literally was built on the backs of their suffering.  This kind of empathy is not a skill that all people can lay claim to or grasp the genrational impact that lives on; nonetheless we all should aspire to cultivate it.

The Black Panther was an all-around great movie.  If you haven’t seen the movie, I encourage you to do so.


From the Poor House to the White House: Invaluable Lessons We Can Learn From ‘Ordinary’ Bricks

single brick“Even a common ordinary brick wants to be something bigger than itself,” said one of the actors in the movie “Indecent Proposal.” These words, I believe, describe the desire of the human spirit.”

I believe we all want to feel that we’ve made a difference in someone’s life or contributed to the betterment of a person, family or noble cause. And by doing so, it makes us a part of something bigger than ourselves, and that’s the way I believe life was intended to be.

However, when anyone in a family or society attempts to live in isolation, without regard for anyone else, the person and society suffers the consequences.

1757dcece689da3 borken brick

If, for example, we each imagine ourselves as bricks joined together to create the foundation of a home, when a large section of brick is cracked, jolted out of place and damaged, such as may happen in an earthquake, it impacts the stability of the entire foundation and everything resting upon it. And depending on how long the damaged foundation goes without repair, it further weakens over time, becomes unstable, and dangerous – just like damaged and hurting people and animals left to themselves without medical attention.

Whereas, a problem that could have been remedied without harm to others becomes a death trap to many – all because of the homeowner’s failure to acknowledge and respond to a known safety risk.  wall-3082742__340 fallen broken brick

The scenario of the damaged brick foundation highlights a few of the deeper issues involved in much of the craziness – mass violence, racism and all those other “isms” in our society and world – caused by damaged, hurting people who have been left to themselves to do whatever, without intervention. It also reveals the fact that damaged though some people may be, they still have an impact on our society as a part of the whole of humanity, just like those damaged foundation bricks we’ve been referring to.

Therefore, it’s important that we understand and consider the impact of allowing our damaged, hurting and/or emotionally broken sisters and brothers to roam aimlessly in their pain without attempting an intervention. Intervention can take many forms but needs to come from a heart of love, meaning we take appropriate action that will both be “good to” and do what’s “good for” the person and society.

Damaged and hurting people will need our love – not necessarily our friendship, as love will give them what they need regardless of their behavior. And sometimes loving them may mean reporting them to the police, a pastor, a guidance counselor at a school or someone else who cares about the person’s wellbeing.

If we simply befriend them, and they begin acting crazy, we just may give them “the middle finger” and walk away. As in our example of the damaged bricks, overlooking their need further damages them and could place others at risk, and that’s what we want to avoid. We need look no further for proof than the shootings in Parkland, Florida; Columbine, Colorado; or Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where three promising students were killed several years ago over a parking dispute or worse – prejudice.


Although the story of the brick foundation is only an example, it shows us how things can go bad when we think that we are not our brother’s and sister’s keeper, and when we think people can be damaged privately and not be damaging in public. What is festering inside a person will at some point show up externally – in public life. (Read what was festering inside the Columbine shooters.)

While bricks may be interconnected by mortar, our families and society are connected by blood, love, sacrifice and a God who created us all.

So, regardless of our ability or disability, gender, race or creed, we remain a part of something (many things) bigger than ourselves: the family of God, the human race (the only race God created)  and our family and friends. Our place in each of these circles matters, as does each brick in the hypothetical brick foundation.

From the poor house to the White House, and all points in between, this perspective should guide our interactions with each other to ensure we never disregard or dehumanize any human being. At the moment that we stop seeing people as human, flesh and blood with loved ones and feelings, hopes and desires, then we begin to churn out a society of mass murderers, terrorists, human traffickers and slave traders. And we, by God’s design, are better than all of that, although we have not always been a nation or world that acted according to our true identity as people created in the likeness of God.

As we go further into 2018 and approach the end of Black History Month, I challenge everyone to move forward with awareness and sensitivity to what is right and true for you, as well as thoughtfulness and empathy for others whose journeys may be totally different from our own. And finally, move forward in prayer and oversight for our damaged and hurting fellow human beings – pledging to love them enough to play some small role in preventing/minimizing suffering and harm to themselves, and especially to others.

Moving Forward Under the Shadow of the Almighty in 2018 and Beyond

Moon-Man-Shadow Pixabay

The shadow reflecting the presence of God with us wherever we are.  Photo courtesy of

The person who maintains a mindset of prayer and/or a heart open to the voice of God will remain under God’s watchful eye/covering (Psalm 91:1, my paraphrase).

As I read and reread Psalm 91, I realized just how much substance each verse contained and how the verses spoke volumes to my state of being and moving forward in 2018, so I thought I’d share Verse 1.  Since I love the poetic wording of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, I’ll restate the paraphrased verse above as it appears in the KJV.


He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1, KJV).

Maintaining ourselves in the presence and companionship of God offers the benefit of ensuring that we are under God’s continual oversight, His watchful eye.  And as we go about our lives in 2018 with this awareness of God’s presence within us and with us, it will help us to, first, acknowledge and clear our own internal baggage and clutter, as well as release and find a place of peace and healing for any brokenness and pain from the previous year(s).

Second, mindfulness of God’s presence will help us to sync our hearts and minds with the will and purposes of God for our lives so we can know with some level of assurance what we need to do – and don’t need to – moving forward.

Third, maintaining God in our awareness draws us nearer to Him, shows we honor and worship God in our hearts and have made Him an integral part of our lives and who we are – not simply a worship routine that we do only in a corporate worship service at church.  This is key because our lives are very personal, and when we need help and direction, we need it to be God-inspired for us, personally.

So, let’s make 2018 a year of abiding in the presence of God and allowing Him to communicate and confirm His vision and plan for our lives so we can set our aim at the right targets and score.  Our lives matter to God so let’s make our lives and what we do count for our good and the good of humanity.

God is with you and you are not alone as you move forward in 2018 and beyond. Create good and make your dreams a reality.  Abide in God’s presence and remain under the shadow of the Almighty God.  Selah!

Ready, Set, Go!: Writing and Working the Vision for 2018

As we begin a new year, I believe it’s important to write down the goals that are most important to us; share them aloud with someone we trust to affirm our commitment to them; and more importantly, develop a plan of action in which each action taken brings us closer to the finish line of goal attainment.

Relay Race

Ready, set, go! Run the race to goal attainment in 2018. Photo courtesy of

Earlier, I shared several of my most pressing goals and topics of interest with a friend, and thought I’d share them here as well to help set the course for the year. For 2018, I’ve identified some problematic areas of interest that could use a mindset/perception shift and about which I’d like to discuss over the course of the year to bring awareness and to help cultivate a positive mindset shift for the good of us as individuals and as a society.  The areas I’ve identified include:

  1. the “mad-black-woman” stereotype (and potentially the angry, violent-black man stereotype) to include my theory on the history behind the stereotype(s) and its impact over the years.
  2. the “healthcare crisis” and our commitment to self-care.
  3. a “proactive” rather than a “reactive” response to our individual and societal challenges, from protecting what’s important to us to voter turnout, to engaging our nation’s political and legal systems to oppose injustice and other societal challenges.
  4. a look into the issues of prejudice and abuse, from racial to gender discrimination.
  5. the need for women’s empowerment and self-care among the nurturers in our world who give so much of themselves to care for others.

Although these areas may veer somewhat from the norm of this blog, they remain relevant to how well we love, honor and value ourselves so that the love and goodness within us flows outward from us to others and into the areas mentioned above and other areas of life and society not mentioned here.

Ultimately, when our individual lives touch and positively impact our relationships and interactions at home or work, in the community or nation or wherever our lives take us, we can know most assuredly that we have given a wonderful gift to humanity and further affirmed that we were worthy of admiration all along!

Self-Love: The Key to Setting Personal Boundaries and Minimizing the Impact of Negativity

In this phase of my journey, I’ve had to deal with my fair share of negativity and unfavorable behavior that, if not checked, impacts my wellbeing. And as I consider the best options for handling such situations, I am keenly aware that my response to such negativity will have to come from a place of love, more specifically from a place of self-love.

Self-love does not equate to being selfish, but rather is a balanced, healthy love and respect for one’s self. Self-love is the medium through which we’re able to establish and share boundaries that support our wellbeing and value system. It also clarifies what types of behavior we will – and will not – accept. With that said, each decision and choice that I make to address my negative encounters will need to produce a loving and kind resolve for my self.

There have been times in my life when I have made decisions that benefited other people but did not serve me well and weren’t sustainable longterm. The focus on others at the expense of my own wellbeing and peace of mind caused internal unrest, the likes of which resulted from dreading the forthcoming but necessary conflict, people-pleasing and/or trying not to hurt anyone’s feelings. And, from my experience, none of the latter leads to a right, authentic or lasting solution for anyone.

Although there’s nothing wrong with wanting to please and protect the feelings of others, we must be aware of when our desire to please and protect feelings interferes with our ability to do what’s right for ourselves and the situation.

And more importantly, we must be aware when we are dealing with people who may be unreasonable for whom nothing that we could possibly do will ever be enough to satisfy or change them or their behavior. And while we may not be able to change people’s minds or hearts, we may be able to influence their behavior.

Hence, when we focus on choices and decisions that support self-love, we empower ourselves and, at least, disable the impact of negativity and poor behavior in our presence. With every opportunity, I feel it so important to maintain a focus on solutions/decisions that best support a life and lifestyle that loves us back, strengthens us and, ideally, will be best for all concerned. Solutions that we can live with longterm and that give us the most peace of mind.

To this end, I pledge to love myself enough to say “no” to negativity, crazymakers and boundary-breakers who attempt to disrupt peace and positive energy in my life. And I hope it will be your pledge to yourself as well, affirming your self-worth and value as a unique individual.

Las Vegas Mass Shootings Excite Both Fear and Courage in Our Life’s Journey

Horrific tragedies such as the Las Vegas mass shootings impact us all on some level and have the ability to change how we approach our life’s journey and perceive others.

Tragedies of this magnitude make us keenly aware of the presence of evil and people in this world, here and abroad, who do not value life — not their lives or ours, nor the lives of our children, parents or other loved ones.  And, this knowledge can excite fear within us, since we never know which people are safe or where something horrific could potentially happen to us or someone we love or care about.

And although some of the broken souls who commit such acts of violence may feel as if the power of life and death and the right to make choices for others lie within their hands, I’m glad that their flawed truth does not have to be my reality.  God is still Almighty; His creation is not.  However, the actions of people influenced by evil to kill, steal and destroy, in order to take away other’s personal power and right to choose — their right to choose life, to choose their path, to choose what is true and good for them — show just how far-reaching the impact one person’s faulty thinking and actions can have on so many lives.

Tragedy often prompts us to question God, especially in situations that are far beyond our control.  Some people are probably asking where was God during the Las Vegas shootings.  And in answering that question for myself, it brings me hope in believing that God was right there among the crowd in Las Vegas with His people, walking through the crowd and taking on bullets.  I wonder how many bullets God’s presence may have deflected and prevented more people from losing their lives.  And had He not been there, if the 59 dead could have been 500 or more.

Although God does not promise us that we’d never feel the affects of evil decisions made by unstable people, He does promise to never fail or forsake us, (Deu. 31:6, I Sam. 12:22, Ps. 23) and to be a very present help in trouble (Ps. 46:1).  So, I believe when we face trouble or danger, God is present to walk with us in our trouble and danger — even when the outcome means death or injury as it did in Las Vegas.  This is my comfort in a world with so much uncertainty.

While the actions of the Las Vegas gunman may have excited fear in Las Vegas and beyond, I believe the love of God, our passion to retain our freedom to move about freely, and to choose our path will empower and give us courage in the face of fear and danger.  And, I also believe this same passion and courage compelled some of those who died to lose their lives, and some of the wounded to sustain injuries to save the lives of loved ones and, in some cases, complete strangers.

Moreover, it will be this same passion (and compassion) and love that gives Las Vegas, the families affected by the shootings, and this country the courage to move through this valley of tragedy.  And for some, I’m confident it will become a part of their personal journey to advocate for gun control.

But, whatever path we take individually or as a country moving forward, it would be best done with prayer for each other, our country and the world, because ultimately, we are interdependent and in this together.  Pray for Las Vegas and the affected families — and even the family of the gunman.  The devastation is unimaginable on both sides of the fence.

Finding A Place of Peace Amid Difficulty

As my stress level began to rise last week, I had to ponder what I was doing wrong to be able to maintain this imbalance.  I was praying, venting and working to resolve the source of my stress with seemingly little success.  But, what I wasn’t doing was letting go of anything or releasing the outcome to God.  And, more importantly, I wasn’t trusting in the truth of who God is and what He brings to my life and any situation that I may face.

Hence, I realized that when we are overwhelmed, distressed and frustrated, it helps to place our problems in their proper perspective.  We often get ahead of ourselves, trying to predict the outcome of the situation and think through all the worse possible case scenarios.  And after all the catastrophizing, it’s no wonder that we tend to feel that the problem is larger than life.


Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Anytime we give our problems/situations too much negative time and attention, they become distorted, and this distortion can place us in the depths of despair, not seeing any way out or through the problem or situation.  There is always a way through, not necessarily a quick way out of, our problems.  We simply must yield to the process and be willing to grasp the solution when it reveals itself to us.

No matter how the answer comes, let go of worrying; trust that your efforts are not in vain and that God will make it all work for good.  Therein we find a place of peace that will empower us to rise above our problems and still move forward in the midst of difficulty.  Not always easy but definitely possible.