Teacher creates ‘Wakandan curriculum’ on African history and AfroFuturism
A Chicago teacher was so inspired by Black Panther that she decided to create a curriculum around the film to teach her students about African history and AfroFuturism.
Tess Raser, who teaches sixth grade at the Dulles School of Excellence in Chicago, saw Black Panther on Saturday and felt that the film would be an excellent way to start a conversation.
Her curriculum includes a “pre-viewing” section focused on topics that the students can discuss before they see the film, like colonialism, African kingdoms, and racism worldwide. Then, there is a “post-viewing” section that analyzes the characters, message, and setting of the film itself.
“I want to push black kids to critically engage with media and literature, especially when black bodies are centered,” Raser told Blavity. “I’ve been working hard this school year to push my class, all black students, to have a deeper understanding of the African continent — its diversity, its connection to us.”
“I think representation is essential, and so on a superficial level, the film aesthetically — [an] almost all dark skinned black cast, utilizing costumes, hairstyles, references from across the diaspora — is powerful,” she added. “Then, I began to think about black feminism in the film, the complexities of the characters and how relatable they are. There’s so much.”
There is so much to learn from ‘Black Panther’
Raser started the curriculum on Tuesday, and already, her students love it. She says she’s excited to discuss things like “Black feminism, colonialism effects and slavery’s effects, the tensions and relationships amongst black people across the diaspora, black elitism, the complexities of characters and what defines a villain, what does it mean to be a revolutionary.”
She also wants to look at the film’s message as a whole and what kind of commentary it offers on Black culture.
“I’m very excited about our debate on the meaning of Wakanda. Is it a critique of the black elite, particularly black American elite, or is it the vision of a future possibility? I’m so excited to hear what they think,” she said.
In the end, Raser says she wants her students to be able to better interact with not only the film but their own identities.
“I hope that my students leave a lesson a little bit more confident in their blackness, that they see themselves as leaders equipped with the political analysis and tools to create the Wakanda of their dreams,” she said. “I hope that they learn the ways in which our blackness connects us to people across the world, while appreciating and understanding and honoring our differences.”
Black Panther is in theaters now and has been busting records left and right as the biggest, Blackest movie of the year. It’s clear that this film is more than just a superhero flick, and we’re excited to see people interacting with it and celebrating Blackness because of it.