3 Powerful Relationship Lessons From ‘Black Panther’ That Can Transform Black Love (Spoiler Alert)

BY: - 19 Feb '18 | Relationships

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Black Panther has finally hit the big screen, and man it did not disappoint! My husband and I went to see the movie (sans any Afrocentric garb–unfortunately I didn’t get the memo in time) and I was caught up in the rapture of the breathtaking imagery and revolutionary themes the film delivered.

As the latest installment of superhero movies in the Marvel Universe, Black Panther is powerful not just because we get to see an African king in a bulletproof suit change our conception of who gets to be a hero, but also because it paints a picture of what’s possible in the relationships between Black women and Black men.

I noticed three powerful lessons in the film that we could use to heal and strengthen our relationships on all levels. (Note: There are major spoilers in this piece. Don’t read if you haven’t seen the movie yet!)

1. Women & Men Are Equals

Image result for t'challa black panther gif

In the world of Wakanda, women are not depicted as sidekicks or sex objects who need to be rescued.  Instead women are necessary for Wakanda–and the Black Panther–to exist, and not in that “women are the backbone of the community but we only want them to be seen and not heard” kind of necessary that we’ve been accustomed to witnessing in many institutions within the black community. On the contrary, we see women in positions of leadership, whether it be the Queen Mother (played by Angela Bassett) and the female elders who sit on the king’s council or the Black Panther’s bodyguards, an-all women unit called the Dora Milaje. These spear-wielding sisters not only defend him against threats, but their leader Okoye (played by Danai Gurira) is also the general of the army. This sista is fierce. She snatches off her wig and uses it as a weapon, navigates the space ship and the Black Panther choses her to go on a dangerous mission instead of her lover, W’Kabi (played by Daniel Kaluuya) who heads up the border security team.

The women warriors are not the only sisters who keep T’Challa (played by Chadwick Boseman), aka the Black Panther, alive.  T’Challa’s younger sister, Princess Shuri (played by Letitia Wright) is the nation’s lead engineer and develops inventions to keep the Black Panther safe. At just 16 years old, Shuri is “the smartest person in the world, smarter than Tony Stark [from Iron Man]” according to producer Nate Moore, and sista-girl can hold her own on the battlefield.

The lesson? Traditional gender roles driven by sexism just don’t seem to exist in Wakanda. Everyone is allowed to work toward their full potential both as individuals and as a nation.

2. Real Love Requires Freedom & Acceptance

T’Challa’s heart belongs to Nakia (played by Luptia Nyong’o) who is also a member of the Dora Milaje. But Nakia and T’Challa are no longer an item because Nakia chose to be a spy instead of becoming queen. The reason for the breakup? T’Challa was committed to the tradition of keeping Wakanda hidden from the outside world, while Nakia believed Wakanda’s resources and technological advances should be used to help the less fortunate in the world.

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It’s clear that despite their differences, the ex-lovers accept each other. Instead of forcing their perspectives on each other, they’ve given one another the freedom to pursue their own path, even if it means they can’t be together. As Lupita said in an interview about her character, “[w]hat I love about their relationship is that it’s not your average sweetheart story, damsel in distress, they have a history. The fact that she’s a reliable ear for him and gives him counsel in a way that he appreciates and values. I think that’s what makes Nakia and her relationship with T’Challa so refreshing.”

The takeaway for those of us in the real world is this: T’Challa is influential because he receives the influence of Nakia, a concept that Dr. John Gottman reveals is key to a successful marriage. According to Gottman, when men are open to being influenced by their partner, their relationships are more successful than when they engage in behaviors like attacking their partner, shutting down, distancing themselves or getting defensive. Men don’t have to feel inferior to women in order to do this. They simply must allow their partner’s needs to be a priority in their life.

3. Conflicts Are Best Managed When We “Yield to Win”

T’Challa and Nakia are beautiful examples of how to handle conflict in a relationship. But there’s another couple in the film who literally face-off on the battlefield. Okoye and her lover W’Kabi find themselves on the opposite side of a civil war. The fate of Wakanda will be decided by the outcome. In a breathtaking scene, W’Kabi stares down Okoye’s spear and asks with all the charm he could muster, “Would you kill me, my love?” Okoye barely hesitates when she replies, “For Wakanda? No question.” W’Kabi believes her and kneels to surrenders before Okoye. The war is over.

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We can end the wars in our relationships in a similar way (without the weapons, of course) by taking heed to W’Kabi’s powerful move, what Dr. Gottman calls the “yield to win” principle. The idea is that if only one person wins a conflict, both partners lose.  Couples (especially men, according to Gottman) should strive for something bigger than their own need for power or respect: they should be committed to making the relationship win by actively looking for common ground, even during marital conflict.  Like W’Kabi, we need to be willing to surrender our own limited positions and submit to what is right to keep the relationship alive.

In The Black Panther, Wakanda is a fictious country in East Africa which has been untouched by the outside world. It represents the Africa that could have been, and in some ways, what’s possible for us now. We can bring a little bit of Wakanda into our world by realizing that when we respect and honor each other, our relationships will always win.

BMWK, did you see Black Panther? What did you think of the relationships in the film? 

About the author

Aesha Adams Roberts wrote 182 articles on this blog.

Dr. Aesha is a matchmaker, dating coach, speaker and author of the book, Can I Help A Sister Out: How To Meet & Marry The Man of Your Dreams. After years of making painful dating mistakes, she met & married her husband in 11 short months and has made it her mission to help women and men find and keep the love of their lives.


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Single and Unattached? 5 Reasons Dating One Man at a Time Could Be a Big Mistake

BY: - 7 Mar '18 | Relationships

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Let’s say you meet a man who has everything you’ve been praying for.

  • He’s handsome.
  • He’s educated.
  • He’s kind.
  • He’s stable in every way.

The dates are exciting, and after a few months find yourself becoming attached to him. But then, things change. There’s friction and distance as you notice some serious incompatibilities that you can’t get past. After 6 months of talking, things come to an end. You’re hurt and disappointed, so you take a break from dating for 6 months. Before you know it, a whole year has passed, and you’re back at square one: still single! You’re a year older, and when you look down at your ring finger, it’s still empty. Pressure, anxiety and hopelessness sets in and you decided dating is just not worth putting your heart on the line.

If you’re the kind of sister who likes to date one man at a time because you’re afraid of looking thirsty or desperate, I’ve got to warn you: you are wasting your time! Here are 5 reasons why:

1. You Put Too Much Pressure On Men to Reveal Their Intentions On Date Number One

When you date one man at a time, you put too much pressure on men (and yourself) to somehow know if this person is your life partner on a first date. I know you don’t want to waste your time, so you interrogate men to figure out if they want love and marriage or if they just want to hook up. While some guys are just playing around and aren’t honest about their intentions, most men won’t tell you upfront if they want a wife. Why? Because they don’t want you to think they’re saying YOU are the woman they want to spend the rest of their lives with. I mean, how can they know that from one coffee date? They want time to figure out who you are (and that’s a GOOD thing).

2. You Assume That A Few Great Dates Mean You’re In A Real Relationship

An exciting date with lots of chemistry and attraction doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in a relationship. The problem is you ACT like you’re in a relationship, limiting your options before you even know if you’re headed in the same direction. You’re setting yourself up for heartbreak, sis, because he has no obligation to commit just because you feel like you have a connection.

3. You Get Emotionally Attached Before You Get To Exclusivity

You need to be open with the man you’re dating, but don’t get emotionally attached until you’re exclusive. And you’re not exclusive until you hear the words, “I only want to date you,” and you’ve both discussed your relationship requirements and needs.

4. You Put Your Life On Hold While You Wait For Him To Figure Out What He Wants

You’ve been seeing each other for months now, but every time you ask him “what are we doing?” he claims you’re pressuring him. Your fertility clock is ticking and you’re worried he may not really want marriage, but you back off because you don’t want to lose him.

Putting your life on hold makes you lose your confidence. You’re settling for less by waiting for him to figure out what he wants, instead of giving yourself your own desires by continuing to meet men who are willing to give you the commitment you deserve.

5. You Stick It Out Even When You Discover He’s Not The One Because You Invested So Much Time Into The Relationship Already

As a dating coach, I’ve heard from so many sisters who have told me they spent 5, 10, and even 20 years in a relationship that they knew wasn’t right for them. They stayed because walking away would mean facing the harsh reality that they’d invested the best time of their life with someone who never wanted to build a real life with them.

There’s another way to date that can keep you off the emotional roller coaster of the “I-think-I-met-my-husband-on-date-number-2–ops-you-aren’t-the-one-I’m-brokenhearted-now-I’ve-got-to-start-over” cycle that drags your heart through the ringer and wastes your time.

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The answer is to date casually, meeting lots of different men until you meet someone who is compatible and also desires love and commitment like you do. Dating more than one person at a time frees you from the pressure of figuring to if you’ve met your husband from a first text. And going out with a variety of men helps you get clear on the right man is for you. You’ll stop giving away your power, hoping a man chooses you, and instead exercise the right to be selective about who can win your heart.

BMWK single ladies, if you’re serious about relationships, are you willing to date casually? 

About the author

Aesha Adams Roberts wrote 182 articles on this blog.

Dr. Aesha is a matchmaker, dating coach, speaker and author of the book, Can I Help A Sister Out: How To Meet & Marry The Man of Your Dreams. After years of making painful dating mistakes, she met & married her husband in 11 short months and has made it her mission to help women and men find and keep the love of their lives.


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