Why the ‘Black Panther’ film is so important to me and my kids

It’s so much more than a movie to me.

Why the ‘Black Panther’ film is so important to me and my kids

Full of excitement, anticipation and popcorn mixed with M&M’s, I watched Black Panther in a packed movie theater on its opening weekend. Now I'm not an avid comic reader or anything, and I’d typically rather watch a superhero movie when it’s available to rent at home.

But this was so much more than a movie for me.

I grew up in a small, predominantly white, east coast town. There weren't many black children in my school, and I found my image reflected in very few faces on the street.  I was drawn towards images of black women in the media, pretending they were sisters I didn’t have, fantasizing about myself in their worlds.

I clung to the faces of unknown girls and women who, I thought, resembled what I should look like. Supporting characters often portrayed as women who struggled for their survival, trying to be understood. More often than not their look was strikingly dissimilar to mine. Their long, silky, straight hair was a stark contrast to my tightly coiled, often referred to as “nappy” hair. I found myself needing to recreate their look. To me, back then, the way they looked was synonymous with beauty.

Please don’t misunderstand—I grew up in a house that embraced who I was, and who I am. My mother always encouraged self-love. She instilled my deep love of literature and introduced the great musical artists of her time to me—ones that I still carry with me today and am now passing on to my children.

She would wear her short, natural hair out freely and would encourage me to do the same.  But when the majority of people you see don’t look like you, you start to feel as though something you’re doing is wrong.

A cashier told me I looked like a boy with my afro when I was a young girl. Blessed with an infinite amount of empathy and a terribly thin skin, I was devastated. I would hide teen magazines that a friend gifted me under my pillow at night. Magazines that held pictures of young black girls with straight hair—silently saying secret prayers that would hopefully loosen my curls and therefore, would change my life. Would make me beautiful.

I begged and pleaded with my mother to allow me to relax my hair until she finally conceded.  Sitting in the hairdresser’s chair, I was sure I would proudly walk out of the salon with my hair flowing in the wind. But, instead—I left the salon feeling mortified, not realizing that ‘straight’ didn’t equate ‘length’. And since I am eternally blessed with short hair that does not grow, I was left with a short, very dated, bouffant.

I was distraught. I still did not fit the Hollywood look.  I begged my mother to allow me to get the new hairstyle I’d heard of—box braids. Neat, straight, long hair was exactly what I needed—the opposite of my coils.

My loving mother took pity on me, and took me to the salon. After two hours by bus each way, $300, and eight long and painful hours later, I had long, straight hair. Just like in the magazines.

The importance of this movie extends far beyond the seemingly simplicity of hair. The representation that’s shown, both on and off screen, shines blindingly bright like a beacon of hope.

The hope that my children will continue to see themselves represented in a new light. The need to highlight our stories of oppression and modern struggle are integral. Equally as important as these are the films that will showcase all sides of our stories.  The stories that show all of our shades, that show our positivity, that show us thriving in a loving, worthy manner

The hope that my children will grow up in a world where they will continue to see those who bear a likeness to them as well as their friends. Blessed with the ability to see that they are not alone in a world that is just as much their oyster as anyone else’s.

The hope that my children will grow up in a world built on the knowledge learned from so many hard lessons everyone should have already learned. That when united, we will rise. That when separated, we cannot thrive. And that the importance of building each other up is necessary.

Self-love and personal growth are journeys that are never-ending. I recognize that appreciation of the self begins at home—and I hope to foster that with my children. Whether it be comparing afro sizes with my son, discussing ancestral roots with my stepdaughter, or massaging shea butter into my daughter’s curly hair. I try to instill that love.

My kids deserve to have their stories told and their likeness shared. We all deserve to be aware that there are many similarities in our stories and we’re not on this journey of life alone.

“Until the lion has his or her own storyteller, the hunter will always have the best part of the story. ”– African Proverb

You might also like:

Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

Keep reading Show less