Wakanda is in disarray. Someone is inciting Wakandans into violence against their king. Their queen, T’challa’s sister, is in a state between living and dead. Justice results in injustice and strong men and bandits are free to abuse women. Wakanda has lost its connection to it’s heritage.
While I was reading this graphic novel, I learned that the woman who accused Emmet Till of whistling at her has admitted she lied. The new president, on his first day, replaced the White House website page on civil rights with a statement in support of law enforcement. The current president has targeted the home city of his predecessor, inflating it’s inner city murder rate and threatening to send in federal troops. When the president talks about carnage, he isn’t talking about our nation’s high rate of gun violence or the problems of police brutality, he’s talking about cracking down on people of color. Things weren’t great when we had a black president, now that we have a president who ran on racism, things are getting worse.
A Nation Under Our Feet is dense with meaning. I’m not even going to pretend I am capable of identifying all the references and allusions. One thing that struck me was when one of the Midnight Angels says to a young woman she rescued from confinement and impending rape, “You deserved a Wakanda that cherished you.” T’Challa has become an ineffective king and is failing to protect his people. Wakandans deserve a country that will cherish and protect them, not just avenge them. It doesn’t take much creativity to look at Black Lives Matter and think Coates is telling his readers that they deserve a nation that cherishes them.
They do. We all do. I think we are going to have to fight for it.