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Throughout the continuum of the black experience, individuals and ideas have emerged at the height of political and social biting-points. How do you describe the contradiction of progress and simultaneous regression? A future in which the values of its institutions will continue to be founded upon racist underpinnings. Although fictional, the release of the Black Panther has subtly revitalised a radical vision, and the stoked a fictionalised mandate for resistance.
A play on charged nuances that not only dazzle our dominant perspective as black people, but unswervingly confronts those race-based questions embryonic in its nature. Albeit in many different reincarnations, we have been here before. Due to its success, the opera was later transferred to Broadway, consequently making it the first opera to open there on 20th February that same year.
This is, in particular, a legitimate question for African Americans. Who, despite all their perceived furtherances, struggle to consolidate a progressive conversation that is accurately reflective of their current situation. Wakanda and Black Panther is a fictional story made for kids. Its contrasting fictional universe served to remind me of the yet-to-be uprooted racist institutions that produced it. All very reminiscent of how representations of black people are distorted by western media.
Killmonger, Micheal. Ross played by Martin Freeman; who stops the fighter ships form leaving Wakanda. Had the narrative remained more true to the comic book, this would have been more blatantly evident.
Rather than a conflict of ethics between two powerful men, this is a rivalry we have seen play before, most notably between Malcolm X and Rev.
A more flattering storyline that offers a respite from the centuries of demonisation, and backward stereotypes. As much as Killmonger is a product of revolutionary Oakland, these desires have been over-coded and perverted by his participation in American imperialism. T'Challa: You want to see us become just like the people you hate so much! Divide and conquer the land as they did! Killmonger: The world took everything away from me! Everything I ever loved! But I'mma make sure we're even.
I'mma track down anyone who would even think about being loyal to you! And I'm gonna put they ass in the dirt right next to Zuri!
Rather, he is reactively seeking to maintain the established order of Empire, but with a different face. Black Panther enacts key theoretical debates for black liberation, specifically the debates surrounding whether or not there exists an essential black consciousness and how best to decolonize. The movie ostensibly uses a dialectical logic to resolve the debate. The Dialectic is a theory of historical progress first proposed by Hegel that argues progress is achieved through a process of negative conflict.
An established thought comes into conflict with its negative other. The result of this conflict is a new third form of thought. Marx applied this reasoning in his theory of historical materialism, 38 arguing that historical progress emerges from conflict between two opposing forces.
The film then introduces the character of Killmonger, a cultural nationalist and proponent of negritude who wants to violently liberate all black people. Their conflict results in a liberal form of international aid, with Wakanda opening educational and cultural centers in Oakland. Killmonger: You are all sitting up here comfortable.
Must feel good. There's about two billion people around the world who look like us and their lives are a lot harder.
Wakanda has the tools to liberate them all. T'Challa: Our weapons will not be used to wage war on the world. It is not our way to be judge, jury and executioner for people who aren't our own. Killmonger: Not your own? Didn't life start here on this continent? So ain't all people your people? T'Challa: I am not king of all people. I am king of Wakanda. And it is my responsibility to make sure that our people are safe and that vibranium doesn't fall into the hands of people like you.
While there are multiple interpretations of negritude, at its base, negritude is a response to colonialism that seeks to dis-alienate the colonized by articulating a unifying black identity, a singular black consciousness. Following this, we can understand Negritude as a form of strategically essentializing the racial position of all black peoples.
However, understanding negritude as an act means that simply having black skin does not necessarily make one black. A being is black by acting black. Negritude is not without its critics, most significantly, Fanon. First is that culture is always first and foremost national, not racial.
This leads to the second problem with negritude; it lacks the ability to connect with other oppressed people outside of its racial category. Fanon notes that Senghor himself only supported decolonization for black-Africans, and supported French proposals for Algeria.
As such, it ultimately works to reinforce anti-black racism. The Dialectic is visibly acted out during the final fight where two Black Panthers fight to the death.
The victor is neither isolationist or cultural nationalist, but a new Black Panther who looks to extend help to all oppressed people through U. While the argument that Black Panther follows a logic of dialectical progress is persuasive, it misses a key aspect, the role women play, specifically Nakia.
However, her character is not reducible to the typical one-dimensional female love interest. The first scene set in the present-day introduces Nakia, a spy on a mission to infiltrate a group seemingly styled after Boko Haram, and save their women captives. I can't be happy here knowing that there's people out there who have nothing. This brief interaction is important for two reasons.
Pan-Africanism, especially as it is understood in Fanon, is a form of socialist African unity and solidarity that crosses racial lines. Pan-Africanism has, at its heart, a global commitment to decolonization. Fanon writes that a key aspect of all colonial projects is to create a situation where in order to assimilate to the hegemonic culture i.
Fanon famously argued that every culture is first and foremost a national culture, but colonialism was not limited to any one nation. Fanon saw Pan-Africanism as being opposed to negritude. Nakia is implicitly suggesting a revolutionary form of outreach designed to liberate oppressed people. Thirdspace provides us with a spatial practice of critique, construction and openness.
It is. It is a space where issues of race, class, and gender can be addressed simultaneously without privileging one over the other. This practice of negotiation opens up hybrid sites and objectives of struggle, destroying the negative polarity between theory and practical-political action. So, critical positions formed within Thirdspace abandon Manichean oppositions, opting instead for a more nuanced, transversal hybrid position.
Analysing Black Panther from this perspective allows a more nuanced understanding of the key theoretical debates underpinning the film. These traumas manifest as reactionary and self-destructive forms of violence. The following scene returns to the basketball court where the film opened. The film ends with Wakanda adopting a new hybrid ideological position. This position is the result of a negotiation between sovereignty and solidarity positions. He is the author of Resistance, Revolution and Fascism: Zapatismo and Assemblage and has published widely in the areas of psychosocial theory, postcolonial theory, indigenous resistance and contemporary French philosophy.
His current research is on Institutional Psychotherapy with a specific focus on Fanon and Guattari. Figure 2. Figure 3. Wakanda as envisioned by Hannah Beachler.
Beginning with General Okoye played by Danai Gurira and her militia of spear bearing women, the role of females in Wakanda is quickly established as one of strength, honor, and independence.
It is Shuri who creates the advanced technology of the Black Panther suit and because of her intelligence, she even heals bullet wounds to the spine with ease. Each has her own personality and each plays a vital leadership role in the film. Erik Killmonger played by Michael B.
The gravity of his mission lies in the truth that he is right on both parts of his argument. For centuries, abuse of people of color has been rampant across the world, while Wakanda has sat in comfortable bliss. His pursuit of the throne is not in an effort gain power, but to distribute it into the hands of the powerless.
His goal is not to destroy Wakanda, but to make it an enforcer of equality rather than an observer of oppression. There is nothing more relatable to audiences than an attempt to bring about justice to an issue that they personally wrestle with.
Many black moviegoers can likely identify with his rage and thirst for justice. It is a quick fix to a systemic and chronic disease that has plagued the U. The final touch to Black Panther that allows it to be impactful to African American society is the fact that most of the cast and much of the crew are black.
Everyone one from the director and writer Ryan Coogler and his co-writer Joe Robert Cole, to costume designer Ruth Carter and production director Hannah Bleacher, allowed for Wakanda to be created in a fashion that was as equally beautiful as it was potent. It is because of this attention to detail that the film became as popular as it has been and has made it a fantastic source of pride and inspiration for black audiences across the world. Ryan Coogler uses spectacular character development as well as breathtaking visuals to move audiences on many different emotional levels.
Through its use of a vulnerable hero, formidable women, and a resonating villain, Black Panther draws out emotions of both courage and empathy in every viewer. It celebrates black culture and paints a picture of a world in which equality is a deep foundation rather than something that must be fought for.
It is because of these things that Black Panther has become one of the most significant films in black culture. This is a clip of a group of children after being told they are going to see Black Panther that I found hilariously exciting as well as an excellent demonstration of how much this movie means to many African Americans.
Coogler, Ryan, director. Black Panther. Marvel Studios, Downey, Meg. Favreau, Justin, director. Iron Man 2.
Finley, Taryn. Johnson, Tre. Russo, Anthony and Joe Russo, directors. T'Challa is aware of his blackness and is unapologetically proud of it. The relationship between the Marvel Black Panther and the prominent s civil rights groups and leaders is Though the black panther logo was also used by the Lowndes County Freedom Organization , and the segregated World War II Black Panthers Tank Battalion , there seems to be no evidence that the comic was inspired by either. In fact, despite the similar names and proximate origin, co-creator Stan Lee said "the name was inspired by a pulp adventure hero who had a black panther sidekick.
T'Challa explains his reasoning to The Thing thus:. Hence, the new name ó a minor point, at best, since the panther is a leopard. The name change was short-lived, with the Panther returning less than a year later, but it seems that the creative team of the '60s and early '70s found the link to the Panther party more an annoyance and distraction than inspiration.
Yet, they would have certainly approved of the first mainstream superhero of African descent and likely found common ground over their mutual concern with the well-being and self-determination of black people. The Black Panther Party was more radical than the comic. How could it not be? Even with a black hero, Jack Kirby and Stan Lee were both white and Marvel was primarily targeting a white audience, while the Black Panther Party was black-led and clearly focused on the black agenda.
But as Jamil Smith aptly pointed out in his piece for Time , "the revolutionary thing about Black Panther is that it envisions a world not devoid of racism but one in which black people have the wealth, technology, and military might to level the playing field.
For example, N. First of all, while Malcolm X shared Killmonger's concerns about black inequality, by the time he was killed, he had come to realize that allies for the cause of liberation and equality exist across racial lines. Secondly, T'Challa is not a pacifist. And when he lands what turns out to be the fatal blow against Killmonger, there seems to be more mourning and compassion than rejoicing.
But he accepts both ritual battles and he is clearly willing to use violence when he puts on the Panther suit to do battle with Claw and other thugs. A reluctant warrior, perhaps, but T'Challa is clearly a warrior, not a pacifist. And while it's easy to imagine King saying "We are all one tribe," as T'Challa does in his speech to the United Nations, the film offers no examples of him engaging in nonviolent resistance, which distinguished King and his followers from the Black Panther Party, Malcolm X, and Stokely Carmichael, who agreed on the problems but not on the strategies.
None of this is intended as a criticism of either the film or its lead character. King, like the Black Panther Party, was also operating from a position of weakness, relative to the dominant power structure.
As the head of a resource-rich, sovereign nation, T'Challa does not need to shame those who hold structural power to do the right thing. He can simply opt to do it, as he does near the end of the film when he decides that he and Wakanda have a moral duty to the world. Upon reaching this conclusion, he decides to focus his energy not on overpowering his enemies but on building an infrastructure that better supports the disenfranchised.
This includes African American youth, but it also seems aimed at a much larger international community. Would King have supported such a global strategy? Had he had the resources to do so, I think he would have, but so, I think, would have all the other prominent civil rights leaders of the s.
Besides the access to far greater resources, T'Challa has much in common with all of them. After coming of age, Ulysses becomes an arms dealer in South Africa and travels to Wakanda where he forces enslaves Wakandans to mine Vibranium. Thus, Klaw literally represents the legacy of the Nazis and therefore also of white colonialism and white supremacy.
As such, his primary motivation is greed. He has no interest in Wakandan culture or its people. Klaw seems to die in this film, but white supremacy has proven to be remarkably resilient. We will see Klaw again, probably soon. If Klaw is the representation of white supremacy, then Ross is the comforting antithesis. I figured, and I believe rightly, that for Black Panther to succeed, it needed a white male at the center, and that white male had to give voice to the audience's misgivings or apprehensions or assumptions about this character.
Importantly, the anti-racist white ideal cannot remain skeptical toward blackness. The racial symbolism of Killmonger is, for me, one of the more unsatisfying aspects of this film. Unfortunately, Killmonger is too filled with anger to respond affirmatively to his own question.
He wants to free his people, but he seems willing to have other people the oppressors suffer in turn. It is not so much justice and freedom that Killmonger wants as the power to dominate others.
This is not an uncommon phenomenon. There are studies e. Certainly, there are African Americans who hold such beliefs, but Killmonger is essentially the only representation of African Americans in the film. As such, the film could be read as an indictment not just of this particular point of view but of African American men more broadly. For those who already tend to blame racial inequality on so-called "black on black" violence, it is not much of a stretch to find that view vindicated in the film.
This is certainly not what the filmmakers intended and I hope not what most viewers come away with. When Killmonger dies at the end of the film, there is, for many, little pleasure at his death. He needed to die because the philosophy of racialized vengeance has to die, but we nevertheless see him rightfully as a victim of unfortunate circumstances he could not control and we can understand and even relate to his anger, even as we reject his vision for how to make things better.
As Nate Marshall so aptly pointed out , one of this film's many strengths is that it "fundamentally questions the nature of power, freedom, and responsibility. I have no objection to the Killmonger character.
I just wish he wasn't the only significant African American character in the film. Here, as everywhere, there are the dangers of a single story.
Wakanda has problems. There are lots of Wakanda fans out there and for good reason. With Wakanda, we all bear witness to an African country characterized not only by its natural beauty but by its natural resources and highly developed technologies.
It is meaningful, as well, that Wakandan women seem to be valued for their strength and assertiveness , rather than repressed or punished.
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Feb 23, †∑ Not only has Black Panther achieved its purpose of being a film in which Black people can see themselves as they want to be seen, it is also 10 times the feminist that movie . In the mids, in the midst of racial tension and the Civil Rights Movement, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created their first Black superhero. Though the Black Panther political party was not . May 27, †∑ With the fate of the entire world (not just Wakanda) at risk, TíChalla must release the full power of the Black Panther. As the film goes on, it becomes evident that women are /5(44).