Analysis: How White Nationalists Are Trying to Co-Opt 'Black Panther'

By Timberg, Craig; Harwell, Drew et al. | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), March 18, 2018 | Go to article overview

Analysis: How White Nationalists Are Trying to Co-Opt 'Black Panther'


Timberg, Craig, Harwell, Drew, Post, Steven Zeitchik The Washington, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Craig Timberg, Drew Harwell and Steven Zeitchik The Washington Post

White nationalists have embraced "Black Panther," Marvel Comics' blockbuster, to push their argument online that nation-states should be organized by ethnic groups, according to new research published Wednesday, an unlikely convolution of the groundbreaking African superhero movie.

One popular image circulating on far-right corners of the internet shows the title character -- the superhuman king of the fictional, secluded and wealthy African nation of Wakanda -- wearing a red "Make Wakanda Great Again" hat. This is an explicit homage to President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" campaign gear.

The image, first posted online in June, months before the film's February release, carried a headline of "BLACK PANTHER IS ALT-RIGHT," referring to the movement that espouses racist, anti-Semitic and sexist views and seeks a whites-only state. It claimed the superhero opposed immigration, diversity and democracy while favoring "ethno-nationalism" -- a profound mischaracterization of the movie's main themes, according to researchers at Data & Society, a New York-based think thank, that studied far-right online conversation about the film. They said the film uses science fiction and "Afro-futurism," a thematic exploration of African and African-American history, to explore real-life questions of culture, race and politics.

Similar misleading messages, the researchers said, are being delivered over YouTube, Twitter and 4chan, an anonymous online message board where far-right political activists often exchange views and plan disinformation campaigns, such as the recent effort to portray last month's high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, as a hoax. The researchers noted efforts by white nationalists to "downvote" "Black Panther" on the popular movie-rating site Rotten Tomatoes.

"They're very savvy about social media use. They know if they can cover 'Black Panther,' it'll show up in search results for people looking to learn more about the movie," said Becca Lewis, one of the Data & Society researchers. "They try to phrase white nationalism as identity politics for white people ... They're essentially trying to co-opt its identity politics."

Researchers said the episode seemed to mark a turn for white nationalists online. Instead of avoiding a cultural phenomenon that conflicts with their ideology, they have sought to subvert and transform it in hopes of recruiting followers and normalizing their views on white supremacy. The misinformation campaign also shows how such groups are increasingly propagating disinformation, by morphing breaking news and cultural touchstones into staging grounds for hateful ideologies and racist ideas.

Malkia Cyril, the executive director of the Center for Media Justice, an Oakland, California-based nonprofit group, said, "The claim that the Black Panther hero, King T'Challa, represents the core beliefs of the alt-right -- isolationism, antiglobalist, and racial homogeneity -- is preposterous, and can only be asserted by white supremacists or people who really don't understand the relationship between Africans in the diaspora and on the continent."

The research also described widespread efforts by conservative commentators to portray "Black Panther" as "anti-white" because of its mainly black cast and celebration of African heritage and identity. The movie, based on a series of comic books, focuses on the struggle of the superhero to protect his kingdom from attack while wrestling with moral questions about whether to share Wakanda's natural wealth and technology with the outside world.

The Black Panther and other characters in the film also engage extensively with the United States, where some of the action is set. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Analysis: How White Nationalists Are Trying to Co-Opt 'Black Panther'
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.