WakandaCon was a manifesto that ideas could truly come to life. The event, co-sponsored by BMCC’s Urban Male Leadership Academy, A. Philip Randolph Memorial Library, and CUNY in the Heights, took place on February 22, 2023. The idea was sparked out of a simple conversation about providing students who cannot see Black Panther: Wakanda Forever in a place where they can enjoy it and have the space to talk and reflect on how the movie has impacted them (and inspired by Christopher Lopez’s amazing office decor). As a long-time fan of the power of film and the impact that happens on our society, I have always known the power of visual concepts, especially on the topic of Marvel films. Another goal of Wakandacon was to slowly but surely encourage the students to return to being on campus. These events are one of the many ways we can encourage participation and connection.
Even before the movie release in fall 2022, Chris Lopez (BMCC’s student success librarian) and I would ponder what topics would carry over from the first movie and how the tragic loss of Chadwick Boseman would be addressed. Would this alter the impact of the first film? These were some of the many questions we had, and once the movie came out, our interest in the discussion grew and we wanted to involve the students. Topics like coloniality, grief/anger, and gender were important for us to share with the BMCC community, and our panelists helped with these topics. The panelists – Professor Carlo Diego (Media Arts and Technology), Professor Syretta McFadden (English), and the current President of the Black Student Union, Theodore Griffith – added insight for the students attending the film by referencing specific scenes that enriched the movie topics we were discussing before the film had started.
The amazing input from the student body helped bring this event to life. A creative student named Noelani Renderos designed the flyer. The colors of the flyer, the timing of the movie viewing, and even the food was chosen by students for students. Their involvement was essential to this event. With Ingrid Renderos‘s leadership, we provided an Artist Corner where students could speak about creative opportunities in the summer and beyond. It is truly the community effort that provided this amazing event from all directions – which is very encouraging.
I hope that WakandaCon helped the community to attend and revive the importance of experiencing and doing things together. The cost of the pandemic has been great, and we as a community have been impacted greatly. However, it is with these types of events that the community is able to rebuild a sense of belonging in these important third spaces. I believe in the power of the ‘third space’; Spaces where events, talks, and community efforts help bring other individuals together to share experiences. Just like seeing a movie, sharing a meal at a restaurant, or experiencing a museum, the collective help strengthens their knowledge and ultimately enables them to feel less alone.
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