Note: This post contains spoilers, so if you haven't seen 'Black Panther', what are you waiting for? Go see it and come back!
The highly anticipated Marvel movie 'Black Panther' made its debut over the weekend and it did not disappoint. Its depiction of Afrofuturism, advanced technology mixed with cultural tradition and unapologetic blackness was everything we wanted it to be and more. I could discuss reoccuring themes in the movie like relations between Africans and African Americans or the roles of women in a modern society, but that's not my lane. I found a few travel themes that you should keep in mind for your next trip.
1. Always show up to someone's house with a gift.
After years of preparing (by preparing, I mean lying, cheating and killing), Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) finally landed in Wakanda, where he showed up with the body of Ulysses Klaue. For 30 years, Klaue was a thorn in the side of T'Chaka and now crowned king T'Challa - Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). We learn in the movie that with the help of King T'Chaka's brother, N'Jobu (Sterling K. Brown), Klaue had information necessary to enter Wakanda and steal vibranium from the nation. Klaue is, at some point, captured and branded as a thief, but eventually escaped -- killing W'Kabi's (Daniel Kaluuya) parents in the process. Needless to say, Klaue was at the top of Wakanda's Most Wanted List. So when Erik Killmonger shows up with his body at W'Kabi's doorstep, it gains him a 'welcomed' entry into Wakanda.
Although I don't recommend showing up with a dead body, when visiting someone's home at home or abroad, something more appropriate like flowers or a bottle of wine will always go a long way. Be polite and show that you were raised to have manners.
2. Get in where you fit in.
After capturing Klaue, Black Panther and CIA Agent Everett Moss end up working together briefly to question him. But in the midst of Klaue escaping their grasp, Everett takes a bullet for Nakia (Lupita Nyong'o), Black Panther's ex-girlfriend and trusted member of his personal guard. T'Challa feels indebted to Everett and decides to bring him back to Wakanda in order to save his life.
The long and short of it all is that Everett becomes a member of "Team Black Panther". As Queen Mother (Angela Bassett), Nakia, and Black Panther's sister, Shuri (Letitia Wright), escape after Killmonger becomes king, they seek refuge with M'Baku (Winston Duke), head of the Jabari tribe. Everett, a white outsider, decides he has something to say about the way forward and M'Baku and the Jabari shoot him down by engaging in their signature barking, which I found to be quite hilarious.
To me, this was a reminder that when someone invites you into their home and culture, you need to get in where you fit in. Do not insert your outsider opinions when they aren't asked for. Find yourself some business to mind unless otherwise asked.
3. Don't destroy natural resources.
When Erik becomes king, one of his first acts is to light fire to the heart-shaped herbs, the source of Black Panther's powers. While Erik had his reasons, I found it wildly appalling he would order the gardeners to destroy such a beautiful part of their culture.
As we travel, it's important to be mindful of the destination's natural resources. That includes the typical tourist exhibits, water (see Cape Town), flowers and everything else that is native to the destination. Travel mindfully.
4. Respect the old and admire the new.
Shuri was the genius behind Wakanda's technological advancements. Quite frankly, I'm not sure Black Panther would be as effective as he was without her. (But hey, I guess that's why it pays to have a great team behind you.) At T'Challa's crowning ceremony Shuri is seen scoffing at the traditional ceremony citing the tightness of her corset. And I completely get it. Corsets are not fun. It's the reason I refuse to wear Spanx. But as the movie continues and T'Challa's situation becomes dire, a heart-shaped herb and ritual calling upon the ancestors saves his life. I'm not sure if anyone else noticed, but Queen Mother and Nakia immediately started chanting to the ancestors while Shuri hesitated at first and then later joined in.
This was a reminder to me that there is room for both tradition and technology. While we may not always have time to learn about cultural traditions while traveling, I think it's an important component if you really desire to learn about a destination.
5. Trust black women.
This isn't travel related but it's always relevant. The women surrounding T'Challa always had his best interest in mind and essentially gave him the strength he needed to be the best version of himself.
We, and by we I mean the 93% of black women who voted for Hillary Clinton, tried to save y'all. If you had listened to us, the U.S. wouldn't currently be in the situation we're in. But I digress.
While not the goal of the movie, travel lessons can be learned from 'Black Panther'. Can you think of any others? Sound off below!