I was born in 1969. The Civil Rights movement had already radically changed our country and we were a month away from landing on the Moon. The world had made enormous changes for the better.
My father, a career Army man, worked with Black service members. The Army could not be bothered to keep up inefficient, worthless segregation practices in its ranks. So I went to school with Black children and we sometimes played together in our Army neighborhoods.
Dick Gregory and Diana Ross were on my TV. My sister and I watched Good Times and The Jeffersons. Soul Train came on every evening. My mother considered rock music evil, but disco was more or less acceptable.
I had teen crushes on John Oates, Simon LeBon and Michael Jackson. My friends and I danced to Wham and Lionel Richie and Madonna and the Pointer Sisters. We wanted to be Tina Turner when we turned 50. We turned puzzled eyes on people who said Janet Jackson was pretty “for a black girl”. Janet was just pretty.
I still have a nerd crush on LeVar Burton.
Yes, I am a nerd. Science was my favorite school subject. I love geology, meterology and astronomy. Star Wars was my favorite movie, Star Trek was my favorite TV show. When I played make believe, I was some combination of Princess Leia and Lieutenant Uhura.
White boys in the 80’s wore heavy metal t-shirts and treated girls like toys. Black boys in the 80’s wore double-breasted suits to school and smiled when you looked them in the eye.
My college offered a year’s course in the geography of Africa, the largest and most diverse continent on Earth. I eagerly signed up. We learned that elevation changes in the Congo River make it practically unnavigable. The Aswan Dam on the Nile caused an epidemic of snail-borne parasites. The King of Ghana on his way to Mecca, dropped so much gold in Cairo that it took 500 years for the city’s economy to recover. Children in South Africa play marbles with diamonds that wash down from the mountains. Eating real yams (not sweet potatoes) protected people from numerous ailments. Forcing Africans to switch to American maize made a lot of people sick.
Africa is part of my world. Hollywood has neglected this fact, until this month.
The biggest movie studio in the world is releasing Marvel’s Black Panther, with a gorgeous African and African American cast, beautiful costume and brilliant special effects. Photos from the premier alone left me breathless. Trailers of Chadwick flipping thru the air make me jump out of my chair in astonishment. I cannot WAIT for the movie itself.
I AM SO EXCITED!!