What could possibly be stopping a writer from writing about Black Panther? Spoiler Alert: The complexity of race relations. (Please – hear me out).
Before I begin I want to be 100% clear about this: I’m not talking about the film or even the T’Challa character in this article. I’m discussing the cultural impact of the first major African-American superhero film (sorry, Damon Wayans) and what it means to me personally.
And let me be 100% clear about something else: I do NOT speak for my fellow Aboriginals with any of this stuff. I’m not any kind of spokesman, I’m not even a local cultural figure – I’m just a lone writer with a keyboard and a strange opinion. Nothing more.
We here at Digital Fox Media are big fans of diversity. If you don’t believe us, have a read of some of our articles. (That way we’d get to both prove you wrong and get more clicks – win win!)
I’ve noticed a large number of Black Panther articles being posted all over the internet, including this very site.
This is good because it means that the movie is culturally relevant. This is probably because it’s the first major non-white superhero film to get worldwide attention.
However, as someone who identifies as equal parts black and white (due to my reward from the genetic heritage lottery), I find the deluge of Black Panther articles both pleasing and infuriating.
I have strange racial ethics that stop me from commenting on the Black Panther character in general.
As I mentioned just above, I’m a mixed-blood person, a phrase which will no doubt soon be politically incorrect (assuming it isn’t already).
I am a proud Aboriginal man, which I’m allowed to bang on about endlessly.
I am also fiercely proud of my European heritage (mainly English, but there’s some German in there too), which I’m apparently not supposed to mention in polite company, ever.
As someone who’s been forced to tread a certain line in society due to his racial issues (on both sides of the fence), I’ve developed a bizarre behavioural quirk that I like to call
“I don’t expect to be taken seriously when I’m commenting on races that I’m not part of”
because that’s exactly what it is and I’m a simple man in that way.
For instance, if I comment on issues regarding Australian Aboriginals (hereafter ‘Aboriginals’), then I’m speaking from experience. Further, if I comment on issues regarding Caucasians in general, then I’m also speaking from experience.
But if I comment specifically on Americans as I did in my previous article, then I shouldn’t expect people to take me seriously. I’ll still speak on the issue, but as I’ve never lived in America I can’t be speaking from experience, and that’s something that needs to be understood by both the reader and myself (in any given article).
Commenting as someone who has an outside perspective is, of course, a natural part of human life and practically unavoidable in modern times. But that doesn’t mean that I magically understand all the little issues that come together to make up all the larger issues for American people.
It’s easy to yell ‘CAN YOU AT LEAST TRY BANNING GUNS? JUST TRY IT OUT!’, but gun ownership is a very intricate legal issue involving the American Constitution and the rights of the everyday citizen.
Do I think they should change their gun laws? Yes. But perhaps I don’t understand everything about America. You know – due to not actually being American.
Given that Wakanda is clearly a metaphor for (or homage to) certain African cultures, I feel obliged not to comment on it. Or, more to the point, I don’t want to waste my time making observations that I can’t possibly verify for myself.
I mean, I could. But I’m coming from a place of ignorance, no matter how well-intentioned I am. One would think that writing an article and having time to do research would somewhat alleviate this, and that’s true up to a point. But the research I do is viewed from a Western perspective, and that’s unavoidable and needs to be taken into account.
I’d like to make a very important distinction about that before I continue.
I’m only saying that I shouldn’t comment on Black Panther because of my moral code. I’m not saying that others shouldn’t. Others have their own moral code, which is their right as a living breathing human.
Simply put: I’m not trying to control the behaviour of others based on what I think is right, I’m just trying to control my behaviour based on what I think is right.
Be the change you want to see, and all that hippie stuff, I guess.
Maybe I’m the wrong type of black for it, anyway.
There’s a certain word that starts with N. You know the one. It’s the slang form of the Latin word for ‘black’ if that helps.
For some reason that I’ve never actually understood, many of my friends who aren’t from an Aboriginal background have gotten me to say the N word whenever they tell a racist joke.
It’s like they instinctively know it’s wrong to say that word.
But why do I get to say that horrible word and they don’t? How is that fair? I’m not even African-American, and it’s their word now whether we like that or not (which I do, very much so).
I’ve stopped saying it for people now. If they want to tell the joke, they can just say that word themselves. If they’re not prepared to, then maybe they shouldn’t be telling the joke.
I wrote an article about Batman, and then another one about Iron Man. But I won’t write about Black Panther?
How does that make sense?
And isn’t that kind of racist of me?
Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe ‘racist’ is the wrong word.
In either case, we really need to – wait, I think this deserves its own heading.
We really need to talk about racosity.
I can well imagine that many of our readers are now thinking “What the heck is Racosity?”
In response, I’d like to say a few words.
I mention these words because they’re all fairly recent additions to English from varying sources, to show that language can easily evolve over time. And I mention that because I strongly believe that we need a new word that means something like:
‘Different races exist and are all equal’.
I mean, the word ‘racism’ could be used, but that word currently means ‘different races exist and some are better than others’, so that’s hardly ideal.
I wanted to revive the obsolete word ‘racialism’ instead, but research indicates that’s also tied into the belief some races are better than others.
In other words: Sick of derping, I recently grokked that certain English words need retconning. Even if just for the lolz of it because I find the whole thing topkek anyway.
In other much better words: like some kind of mad scientist of linguistics, I have invented the word ‘racosity’ – and I humbly invite you all to use it whenever you need to discuss matters of race.
The word ‘racosity’ is comprised of the word ‘race’ (your genetic heritage) and the suffix ‘osity’ (meaning ‘having the quality of’, such as can be seen in the words curiosity or animosity).
I think you should pronounce it ‘race-oss-itty‘, but hey – I’m not the language police. I’d like to be, I really would. But I’m not.
Racosity is a completely new word (seriously, look it up), which means that it doesn’t have any of the baggage that comes with the word racism. If enough people use it for long enough it will, but right now it doesn’t.
It’s a word that I think we all need to start using when we talk about racial relations.
Maybe it’s not a word you’ll ever use, but I know I will – even if it’s just for the rest of this article.
A Few Differences Between Racosity And Racism
Racosity, as mentioned before, is the word I’ve chosen to use for ‘different races exist and are all equal’.
Racism (as also mentioned) is the same belief, but with the somewhat self-centred caveat that certain races are superior to others.
Racosity can come from a place of love.
Racism may start from a place of love (for your own country/race etc.) but it invariably ends up at hatred. That’s what defines it as racism and not racosity, see?
Racosity is a very important topic that needs to be discussed more.
Racism is a cesspool of denial and delusion whose only justification for existing is that it allows us to understand how dangerous ignorance can be.
I said before that I’m proud of my European heritage, and that’s definitely true. It’s important to me that you understand that it doesn’t exist at the cost of my Aboriginal Pride – it exists alongside it.
Why does this make me an outlier, and what does it say about our society that many people are disgusted with me for not ‘choosing a side’?
This is not chess, folks.
I am fiercely proud that both sides of my heritage have been able to survive for millennia in an uncaring world. How is that hard to understand?
I can appreciate the fact that it seems to white Australians that Aboriginals did nothing with their 40,000+ years of Australian history, apart from ‘sitting around being pagans’. I can also appreciate the Aboriginal view that colonisation wasn’t really very healthy for our culture.
Personally, I’m glad we have the empirical method in Australia now.
While I think it’s clear that the human and cultural cost was far too high, it must be noted that the empirical method remains the most useful and practical worldview available for the physical realm in which we all live (as opposed to our personal inner worlds or our sense of spirituality).
However, one thing that doesn’t get mentioned much about Aboriginal Culture is that folk psychology is a major part of the culture. That’s why so many of us blackfullahs are untrusting: not because we think we’re a special case, but because we know you’re trying to play us (because society plays everyone – apart from the rich because they’re the ones playing us all) and we know that we’re getting screwed over either way so we may as well do it on our terms.
But the thing is – it’s not 1787 anymore.
The reason that Aboriginal Culture disappeared (en masse, not locally) so quickly is that it was mainly carried through ‘word of mouth’. This is why having a written language is considered important by cultures that have writing, which I must admit makes a certain amount of sense.
But now us blackfullahs don’t just write, we also do it on the internet. You’re literally looking at that right now.
I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that neither of those technologies are Aboriginal inventions, and to use that as a perfect example of how Australia (and by extension, the world) is made stronger by multi-culturalism.
If I’m going to be brutally honest with myself, I must admit that jealousy also stops me from writing about Black Panther.
See, one thing that I intensely dislike about Modern Aboriginal culture is that it’s retained the isolationist attitude which allowed hundred of tribes to share this wide brown-and-green land. What was once an important survival tactic is now allowing modern Aboriginals to create their own echo chambers of self-important media.
Oh, don’t look at me like that. That’s what the second disclaimer at the top of the article was all about. Moving on.
So – why am I jealous?
Because there’s already an Aboriginal superhero, who was televised well before Black Panther ever was: Superboong.
That name though.
So, I don’t count that.
I sure wouldn’t mind if there were, like, any actual Aboriginal superheroes. Not pastiches, not sidekicks, not cameos – actual superheroes. Not someone like Gateway who is now dead and also doesn’t even count because Marvel has never released his birth details so he could just be an alien for all we know – an actual legit proper superhero.
So what’s stopping me from writing and creating one myself, like the blackfullahs who wrote Superboong?
And there’s yet another reason that I don’t want to write about Black Panther – because if I do, then I have to accept that people like me are the reason that (one of) my race(s) still doesn’t have a good superhero.
Me, I just want to write about the racosity of how I get to call myself an ‘Abo’ but you (probably) don’t because of confusing cultural rules.
I don’t want to take on the idea of a blackfullah superhero.
Not because it wouldn’t work, but because it just might nowadays and frankly, I want neither the responsibility nor the attention. I’d happily ghost-write it for someone though, so hit me up if that floats your boat.
A Shared Heritage Doesn’t Equal A Shared Worldview.
The reality is, there are confusing racial messages all the time. Lines are blurred, boundaries are subjective, and honestly, the whole discourse is just quite frankly confusing. And that’s why I think the most important question – the one I’ve been building up to this whole and had to invent a word for – is:
“How are well-intentioned White Australians supposed to even discuss this issue without being accused of bigotry in these restrictively PC times?”
I cannot stress enough how important that the ‘well-intentioned‘ part of that sentence is.
The answer is, of course, irrelevant. I mean, they’d have to be kept in the loop first.
And these unwanted thoughts – all of them, every single part of this article – fly through my tiny little mind whenever I see another Black Panther article, regardless of how interesting and well-written that the article might be.
My idea of only commenting on my own race(s) works for me because I’m just one man and I know all my own thoughts. Society needs something different, something more.
In other words: society needs to be able to use racosity to talk about bigotry.
But who am I to say this? Ultimately, I’m just some Aussie bloke trying to make sense of it all. Just like everyone else. But I’m allowed to talk about it. I don’t know why that is.
I just know that racism is wrong, no matter the colour of the perpetrators’ skin tone.
I feel no shame in saying that this article has been, by a very wide margin, the most difficult one I’ve ever written in my entire life. There’ve been multiple rewrites and many changes in tone. In fact, it originally began as a simple fluff listicle called “5 Reasons That I Don’t Want To Write About The Black Panther Film”.
During one of the rewrites, my editor asked me a very interesting question:
“If you’re saying that we should all be allowed to talk about other races freely, why don’t you want to talk about Black Panther?”
Perhaps the true answer is that I was simply scared to do so. I don’t have the words I need to use in order to discuss racial issues without being political. Well – I didn’t before I started writing this article.
And THAT’S why we need the idea of racosity even if we don’t use the actual word.
The great irony, of course, is that I probably could write an article about Black Panther now. I have the words I need. Well, one of them at least.
Check Your Mates.
Let’s not be chess pieces. Let’s be the board: A perfect mix (if not a perfect balance, then a perfect mix) of black and white. Let’s not ‘play the game’. Let’s just support each piece on the board, whether they’re black or white, whether we’re black or white.
Racosity is another way to say:
“You’re different from me, and that’s okay. You do you, I’ll do me. Maybe we’ll be friends. Maybe not. But let’s agree to be equals nonetheless.’
And I think we all really need to be thinking like that, instead of being cloistered in our little echo chambers – black or white.