When I was a young girl, a close relative of mine nick-named me Angela Davis.
It all started when I was in 6th grade. I was a new student at a private school. A private school that had just experienced the white flight.
We were moving in and they were moving out of the community.
As a result, some of the families at this school expressed great distaste for the change in demographic. Unfortunately, the school leaders did little to support the culture shift in the school and it was reflected in the way some us students were treated.
This was my first experience with racism.
All I can tell you is that I grew so frustrated with the classroom injustices that I wrote a letter to the school principal and asked my classmates to sign it. The petition addressed the various ways that some of us “new students” were treated in comparison to others.
I walked directly into the principal’s office, placed the letter on his desk (in front of him), and walked away.
The next time I saw that letter it was in my teacher’s hand and he was waving it in my face.
My parents were very supportive of my actions. And hence, little Angela Davis was born.
That revolutionary side of me would come and go over the years. I spent many of my high school lunch hours in the school library reading about the Black Panther Party For Self Defense and their 10-point program.
I read Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice and Bobby Seale’s Seize the Time.
I remember reading Alex Haley’s Roots and later renting the television series from my local library.
I studied, studied, studied, Black history.
I never felt the need to petition a social issue again. But, I was always conscience of my culture and heritage.
Then I went to college.
I remember feeling very out of place on campus. It was a predominately white campus and for the most part, I never felt connected to a lot of Black people.
Maybe I was losing my Black identity.
Maybe I was too different.
Maybe everybody was sleep and I was the only one woke.
I couldn’t put my finger on it.
I remember a friend told me one day that I was “always intense”. She was concerned about me. She wanted me to take more time to enjoy life and less time talking about the struggle.
So after a year or so on campus, I calmed down and conformed to the college life.
Just a little… not much.
I was still different than everyone else.
I can recall reading Booker T. Washington’s Up From Slavery and W.E.B. Dubois The Souls of Black Folk during my senior year. This was not for a class, but for my own personal knowledge.
Then Angela Davis came out again.
This time in my career.
For over three years, I helped low-income, Black, college students graduate on time by helping them bypass developmental courses that they were not receiving college credit for.
So the college fired me.
I have always been unapologetically Black.
Sometimes I outwardly fight.
Sometimes I quietly empower.
Just because I move in silence, does not mean that Angela Davis has left me.
This brings me to the opening of Marvel’s Black Panther.
The hype, excitement, pride, and appreciation of an all Black and beautiful cast tells me that it never left you either.
Our love for Wakanda is symbolic of our deepest desires to connect with our homeland, our lost culture, and our ancestors.
So I don’t care if it shows up through the movie.
I don’t care what inspired you to reconnect to the culture.
Wakanka represents what we long for. Everyone won’t understand. And frankly, it’s not everyone’s business to understand.
Just know that it is in you.
Dr. Lauren Meeks