Black nerds are lit. As if our culture couldn’t get any more amazing the inaugural 2018 Wakandacon proved that the movement is well and alive. The only thing that’s missing? It needs to be televised. Although I take a play on the late great Gil Scott Heron, the seriousness remains. Wakandacon was yet again another excellent example displaying how Blackness weaves it way through every fiber of society and produces something so magical you almost can’t stand it.
Comicon – you – could – never.
Aside from the cosplay and stunning visuals the discussion panels brought much needed dialogue to the ever-evolving landscape of film, gaming, and media in general when it comes to Black representation. At this point I’m not even going to ask where we are, because no matter what the answer will remain the same. We’re, scattered. Thinly spread across the multiple mediums and disciplines.
But I was pleasantly surprised.
Whether it was discussing how to deal with microaggressions in the “Games for Social Justice” panel, or if it was listening as some of the principle researchers from Black Panther divulged what the process was like, there was the common theme that we are not going back into the world where certain industries aren’t even something we could dream of. Mama Katherine Johnson did too many equations at Nasa for us to let that happened ever again.
And so, it was, under the lights of the Hitlon Chicago and the blare of pulsating bass of Lollapalooza, Black People were allowed to tap into an aspect of our selves that is not typically released: the chance to be uninhibited. In a society where on the daily we are disrespected, dehumanized, and disenfranchised, Wakandacon allowed us to use our imagination and enter into a parallel world where we could be have the one thing this world refuses to give us… control.
However, unlike in times past the meter is slowly starting to move and with the organizers of Wakandacon serving as yet another example as to the profitability and necessity that an event like this brings, I walked away feeling as if we were in the middle of a new awakening. Yet I wonder will this awakening be fed and more importantly funded like it deserves to be?
How maddening it was then to see the potential of this event while it was juxtaposed by the oversaturated and commercialized Lollapalooza, a Chicago tradition for over twenty years, that has devolved into one mass IG filter of people all clamoring just to say they were in attendance. How many millions went into a concert that could have been contained to a Spotify playlist? And how long will it take for Wakandacon to reach that level of esteem? Will we even be given the opportunity?
For all my musings I found it almost kismet that the two events were happening one on top of the other literally. As I took everything in I saw the gasps and “holy shit you look cool” as hundreds of little white kids streamed past fully decorated cosplay characters. It was the same reaction we always receive to being the unicorn in the room. Yet, I want Wakandacon to be more than some mystical creature and I know it can be, it is an already built in pipeline to a subsect of a community demanding to be respected and not ignored.
Funny how something as simple as a game could spark so much introspection but as I walked away I was forced to reconcile that the beauty of Wakandacon is it’s representation of what imagination means to Black People, and it’s deeper than any x and o combination you could press on a console.