'Black Panther' Taught Me About Injustice And How We Can Combat It

'Black Panther' Taught Me About Injustice And How We Can Combat It

This year's blockbuster taught me to stand up for the oppressed.
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I was having a conversation with a friend after watching “Black Panther” when we both reached the topic of Erik Killmonger and his violent agenda to arm oppressed peoples around the world using the same Vibranium that catapulted Wakanda to its elite status as a technological marvel.

While both of us agreed that such an approach would have led to nothing more than death and destruction on a near-unprecedented scale, I remember pausing in shocked realization when I heard my friend’s final analysis regarding the idea:

“What if Killmonger was right about Wakanda?”

Despite the illusion of nobility and grandeur that Wakanda gave us all throughout the entirety of "Black Panther," we were forced to witness its great failure as a nation (prompted by the politics of isolationism upheld by its rulers from its origins) to use its considerable resources and potential influence to stand up for those whose rights had been taken from them.

Instead, it stood idly by and allowed its fellow sister countries to be plundered and stripped of their dignity, their peoples enslaved and dehumanized to build the glorious empires of the various European powers.

The shackles that bound these early slaves held firm throughout generations, culminating in the environment that produced the man who would one day go by the name Killmonger.

His pain and raw anger at the injustices that people of color suffered in his hometown of Oakland (incidentally, the birthplace of the Black Panther Party) reflected a kind of trauma brought about by the realization that despite all the progress of the so-called “civilized” world, the simple distinction of pigmentation determined one’s worth in society. While his methods bordered on unhinged aggression and would have eventually resulted in catastrophic devastation with streets paved in the blood of the innocent, Killmonger was justified to feel betrayed by his father’s people, the highly touted Wakandan empire that left him and their fellow brothers to suffer.

T'challa saw Erik Killmonger’s pain as his own and finally understood the futility of isolationism in the face of apartheid when he faced his father’s spirit on the ancestral plain—the sins of his ancestors quite literally left him on the verge of death, and it was there that he confronted them about the errors of their ways.

At that moment, he chose to let go of the past and move forward to help those who had been forgotten.

Even after defeating Killmonger, T’challa chose to stick by his newfound principles and revealed the secrets of Vibranium to the rest of the world, forever altering the landscape of international relations in Wakanda.

His devotion to utilizing Vibranium as a peaceful method of settling centuries of prejudice (as opposed to Killmonger’s insurgency) comes as a welcome message that Wakanda will no longer stand by whilst tyrant nations deliver unfair judgment upon the oppressed.

Where does that leave us, however? The common human being does not have the supplies of a highly technological society, nor do we all have mounds of Vibranium underneath our pillowcases or the influence that T’challa had as the king of Wakanda. But we all have our own voices, our own ability to contribute to stamping out injustices when and where we see them being committed—by exposing them and standing up for the oppressed however we possibly can.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram

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Dear Senator Walsh, I Can't Wait For The Day That A Nurse Saves Your Life

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.

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Dear Senator Walsh,

I can't even fathom how many letters you've read like this in the past 72 hours. You've insulted one of the largest, strongest and most emotion-filled professions.. you're bound to get a lot of feedback. And as nurses, we're taught that when something makes us mad, to let that anger fuel us to make a difference and that's what we're doing.

I am not even a nurse. I'm just a nursing student. I have been around and I've seen my fair share of sore legs and clinical days where you don't even use the bathroom, but I am still not even a nurse yet. Three years in, though, and I feel as if I've given my entire life and heart to this profession. My heart absolutely breaks for the men and women who are real nurses as they had to wake up the next morning after hearing your comments, put on their scrubs and prepare for a 12-hour day (during which I promise you, they didn't play one card game).

I have spent the last three years of my life surrounded by nurses. I'm around them more than I'm around my own family, seriously. I have watched nurses pass more medications than you probably know exist. They know the side effects, dosages and complications like the back of their hand. I have watched them weep at the bedside of dying patients and cry as they deliver new lives into this world. I have watched them hang IV's, give bed baths, and spoon-feed patients who can't do it themselves. I've watched them find mistakes of doctors and literally save patient's lives. I have watched them run, and teach, and smile, and hug and care... oh boy, have I seen the compassion that exudes from every nurse that I've encountered. I've watched them during their long shifts. I've seen them forfeit their own breaks and lunches. I've seen them break and wonder what it's all for... but I've also seen them around their patients and remember why they do what they do. You know what I've never once seen them do? Play cards.

The best thing about our profession, Senator, is that we are forgiving. The internet might be blown up with pictures mocking your comments, but at the end of the day, we still would treat you with the same respect that we would give to anyone. That's what makes our profession so amazing. We would drop anything, for anyone, anytime, no matter what.

You did insult us. It does hurt to hear those comments because from the first day of nursing school we are reminded how the world has zero idea what we do every day. We get insulted and disrespected and little recognition for everything we do sometimes. But you know what? We still do it.

When it's your time, Senator, I promise that the nurse taking care of you will remember your comments. They'll remember the way they felt the day you publicly said that nurses "probably do get breaks. They probably play cards for a considerable amount of the day." The jokes will stop and it'll eventually die down, but we will still remember.

And I hope you know that when it is your time, you will receive the best care. You will receive respect and a smile. You will receive empathy and compassion because that's what we do and that is why we are the most trusted profession.

Please just remember that we cannot properly take care of people if we aren't even taken care of ourselves.

I sincerely pray that someday you learn all that nurses do and please know that during our breaks, we are chugging coffee, eating some sort of lunch, and re-tying our shoes... not playing cards.

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Dear Nancy Pelosi, 16-Year-Olds Should Not Be Able To Vote

Because I'm sure every sixteen year old wants to be rushing to the voting booth on their birthday instead of the BMV, anyways.

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Recent politicians such as Nancy Pelosi have put the voting age on the political agenda in the past few weeks. In doing so, some are advocating for the voting age in the United States to be lowered from eighteen to sixteen- Here's why it is ludicrous.

According to a study done by "Circle" regarding voter turnout in the 2018 midterms, 31% of eligible people between the ages of 18 and 29 voted. Thus, nowhere near half of the eligible voters between 18 and 29 actually voted. To anyone who thinks the voting age should be lowered to sixteen, in relevance to the data, it is pointless. If the combination of people who can vote from the legal voting age of eighteen to eleven years later is solely 31%, it is doubtful that many sixteen-year-olds would exercise their right to vote. To go through such a tedious process of amending the Constitution to change the voting age by two years when the evidence doesn't support that many sixteen-year-olds would make use of the new change (assuming it would pass) to vote is idiotic.

The argument can be made that if someone can operate heavy machinery (I.e. drive a car) at sixteen, they should be able to vote. Just because a sixteen-year-old can (in most places) now drive a car and work at a job, does not mean that they should be able to vote. At the age of sixteen, many students have not had fundamental classes such as government or economics to fully understand the political world. Sadly, going into these classes there are students that had mere knowledge of simple political knowledge such as the number of branches of government. Well, there are people above the age of eighteen who are uneducated but they can still vote, so what does it matter if sixteen-year-olds don't know everything about politics and still vote? At least they're voting. Although this is true, it's highly doubtful that someone who is past the age of eighteen, is uninformed about politics, and has to work on election day will care that much to make it to the booths. In contrast, sixteen-year-olds may be excited since it's the first time they can vote, and likely don't have too much of a tight schedule on election day, so they still may vote. The United States does not need people to vote if their votes are going to be uneducated.

But there are some sixteen-year-olds who are educated on issues and want to vote, so that's unfair to them. Well, there are other ways to participate in government besides voting. If a sixteen-year-old feels passionate about something on the political agenda but can't vote, there are other ways of getting involved. They can canvas for politicians whom they agree with, or become active in the notorious "Get Out The Vote" campaign to increase registered voter participation or help register those who already aren't. Best yet, they can politically socialize their peers with political information so that when the time comes for all of them to be eighteen and vote, more eighteen-year-olds will be educated and likely to vote.

If you're a sixteen-year-old and feel hopeless, you're not. As the 2016 election cycle approached, I was seventeen and felt useless because I had no vote. Although voting is arguably one of the easiest ways to participate in politics, it's not the only one. Since the majority of the current young adult population don't exercise their right to vote, helping inform them of how to stay informed and why voting is important, in my eyes is as essential as voting.

Sorry, Speaker Pelosi and all the others who think the voting age should be lowered. I'd rather not have to pay a plethora of taxes in my later years because in 2020 sixteen-year-olds act like sheep and blindly vote for people like Bernie Sanders who support the free college.

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