Since its release, there have been several pieces that have reflected on the success of “Black Panther.” But one thing I couldn’t stop thinking about is how there must not be any failing schools in Wakanda.
If you were paying close attention to Ryan Coogler’s cinematic masterpiece, the prevailing theme was “Wakandans take care of Wakandans.” That means from their culture, to their people, to their vibranium (their mystical, magical, supernatural resource), they are extremely focused on preserving and protecting their way of life. As I left the crowded theater full of moviegoers in their African attire, I could not help but think that if this crowd were leaving a volunteer effort at their local public school, there would have been no need for a program like “No Child Left Behind.”
We saw in this movie a vision of how we wish our communities looked, felt, and engaged with one another. There is probably a cultural mandate that everyone is responsible for playing a role in educating their people. It would not be asked or demanded of you, but culturally expected that you played your part in educating the children of Wakanda.
School choice was born to allow innovation, flexibility, accountability and community involvement in our public schools. Call me crazy, but this sounds exactly how engagement would look in the public schools of Wakanda. So I asked myself, “How do you walk out of the movie Black Panther, feeling proud about the ownership that Wankandans have when it comes to their culture, education, technology, and community engagement, and not believe in school choice?”
I believe with a commitment from our communities to get more engaged in our public schools, if we invested our time, talent and resources, we could make every public school feel like Wakanda. All children can learn based on their God-given abilities and gifts.
The bottom line is, if you are an African American and loved this groundbreaking movie, then by default, you can believe in school choice. I cannot imagine a citizen of Wakanda leaving the education of their children in the hands of someone who did not understand what it means to be a Wakandan.
The strength of this movie should act as an indictment for you to become more engaged in your community schools. If you believe that every child deserves a world class education, and you don’t understand how school choice and public charters work, then I’m afraid you may have missed the point and power of Black Panther!