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African attire has real panther power

DRESSED TO IMPRESS: Guests arrive at the South Africa premiere of Black Panther in Johannesburg last week

HAVE YOU got your African clobber ready for your visit to the cinema to see Black Panther? Because I really do not want you to embarrass the ancestors, not to talk of your children, their children and their children’s children for 100 generations (no exaggeration), by going to see a superhero movie wearing your underpants over your trousers.

There’s a place and time for going to the pictures to see a movie in tights and a cape, or a suit and tie, or a skintight catwoman PVC one-piece with a tail, especially if you’re a bloke, even if your mask barely hides the fact that you are a not a white guy. And there ain’t nothing wrong with that.

However, on this one occasion, I would advise that you keep the tight tights at home, because I heard through the ghetto grapevine that there is a three-line whip to go to the flicks culturally to see this particular film, unless you’re a white guy.

What? How come? Why do white guys get to enjoy themselves but not us? We black guys wanna have fun, too. Just because you’re not a white guy doesn’t mean you can’t wear your underpants over your tights.

No matter what the would- be policemen and women of black political correctness might think. I mean, once upon a time I would have rocked up to a ‘black consciousness’ movies like Black Panther or Shaft or Super Fly or any other (whether super or not) in my Teddy Boy outfit – drape coat, drainpipe trousers, brothel creepers, bootlace tie et al.

I loved to dress like that. I was into the music and I affiliated myself with people who, like me, rocked to the Teddy Boy beat. And even when I was told in no uncertain terms by random black pedestrians as I walked the streets of north London, that Teddy Boys used to chase black people through the streets of disyah grating Britain back in the ‘50s, I still had no shame about it nor the sense of humiliation and insult I would heap on my children, their children and their chil- dren’s children for 1,000 generations (no exaggeration).

You see, in dem days, I wasn’t conscious. And like everybody knows, when you are not conscious, you are unconscious. Even though you are alive you are in what medical doctors would describe as a vegetative state. And if you are blessed enough to come out of that state, you start living. For real.

And now that I have come out of my self-induced Teddy Boy stupor I see the incredible importance of being conscious. It is like being born again. Not even born again. Just born. Period.

So while I understand the urge and desire of black people to not be black or African, I do also (without being hypocritical I hope) understand why we need to keep the walking dead among us from our pickney, who are going to the cinema in their droves to see Black Panther.

It’s only going to take one black guy going to the cinema in a red cape and his g-string over his spandex and a big ‘S’ on his shirt for the pickney dem to be self-conscious about their culturally-significant garbs.

Given the spiritual power that comes with dressing African it is amazing that we do not dress our children in glorious African robes every day of the week. Yes, spiritual power. Is there a single one of us who believes that our sons would be stabbing each other up on the streets if they were wearing full African regalia?

Is that not what is known as spiritual power? On any given Sunday you can see black British men and women (often and maybe nearly always but not necessarily exclusively) of direct African descent going to church in their robes.

Look in their eyes. Do they not reflect spiritual power? Compare them to the black British churchgoers who dress up in a suit and tie of a Sunday, looking bowed, cowed, beaten and humbled.

Look in their eyes. Do they not reflect defeat in the face of adversity? Are their pupils not bereft of spiritual power? And what about confidence? Who remembers the late Bernie Grant walking through the hallowed corridors of power at Westminster in full African regalia for the state opening of parliament all those years ago?

To this day it remains the singular most militant ‘act’ of parliament by any black politician. But more importantly, look at the confidence that is reflected in his face and in his walk.

Until you exude that amount of confidence you do not know what it really means to say it loud: I’m black and I’m proud. And not to be embarrassed, ashamed or afraid of those who would force you not to say it loud, but in a whisper.

Bernie Grant, then, is the real black superhero. Never mind what Disney decides to sell us. Don’t get me wrong, the fictional black heroes of Black Panther have their part to play also. I want my children to see them. But it is the real superheroes in our community that we are lacking.

We need the likes of Idris Elba and all of them superstars to dash way their black tie and start rocking their dashikis on the red carpet to give our children confidence.

The confidence and spiritual power that they need to come out of their unconscious state of mind and to start putting the simple maths of “2 plus 2 is 4, minus 1 is 3” together, so that they wake up and smell the coffee and get the knowledge which is the power to lift themselves up where they belong.

Because they (our children) are going to need to be superheroes to survive.

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