How the Black Panther movie reversed Hollywood stereotypes and how race is depicted in pop culture will be the subject of a lively conversation led by Candace Shivers, Associate Professor of Human Services and Sociology, Wed., Feb. 26, from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Levi Heywood Memorial Library in Gardner in a presentation entitled “Race, Pop Culture, and the Black Panther Phenomenon.”
Shivers remembers sitting in an airport, watching a young white boy wearing a Black Panther cape, and seeing the excitement on his face when the airline called for “all Black Panthers to now board.”
“I got goosebumps over this,” said Shivers. “He is being the superhero that he wants to be and no one told him that he couldn’t. This gave me hope again. It was inspiring.”
“This discussion is open to all ages,” continues Shivers. “Comic books and superheroes tie generations together and it’s fascinating to see this.” Shivers also added that this is not a “sit and get” kind of talk but more participatory, where the audience will be asked to think about themselves, their favorite television shows, their favorite superheroes, and why.
In thinking about how Hollywood reinforces stereotypes, Shivers notes that the Black Panther movie offers a different and more realistic perspective of what African Americans can be, with intelligent scientists and strong athletic women playing major roles. The depiction of African Americans the way they are in real life, not as they have been portrayed in movies previously, serves as an example for everyone, including youth.
“We listen and ingest the things we watch, which impacts what we think,” explained Shivers. “What I ingested as a kid impacts who I am today.”
The event is sponsored by MWCC, The National Endowment for the Humanities, and MassHumanities. For more information, contact Michelle Valois at 978-630-9364, Lorie Donahue at 978-630-9349, or Susan Goldstein at 978-630-9344. For updates on events, visit the MWCC Humanities Project website: mwcc.edu/humanitiesproject.