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In honor of ‘Black Panther’, Disney donates $1 million for STEM initiatives

Black Panther has been a massive success both at the box office and beyond, truly changing the entertainment industry and the culture at large.

Now Disney, inspired by the widespread success of Black Panther, is donating $1 million to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to implement STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) centers throughout cities in the country.

Disney CEO Bog Iger detailed that plans in a press release:

“Boys & Girls Clubs of America will use this one-time grant to further develop its existing national STEM curriculum, and establish new STEM Centers of Innovation in 12 communities across the country. The curriculum and new centers will serve and inspire kids and teens, with an emphasis in the following communities: Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Chicago, IL; Harlem, NY; Hartford, CT; Memphis, TN; New Orleans, LA; Oakland, CA; Orlando, FL; Philadelphia, PA; Washington, DC; Watts, CA.”

Further, the press release described the technology that will be provided at the STEM centers:

“Hands-on, advanced technologies that stimulate creative approaches to STEM exploration, including 3-D printers, robotics, high-definition video production and conferencing equipment. In addition, a fully dedicated STEM expert will offer individual and group support, using real-world applications to help Club members develop their STEM skills and critical thinking.”

Jim Clark, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, described the importance of Disney’s donation,

“From hands-on interactive programs to critical thinking, Boys & Girls Clubs of America is committed to providing thousands of young people with the tools they need to prepare for a great future. Thanks to Disney’s support, we can expand our outreach and allow more youth to find their passions and discover STEM careers.”

The move was praised by the cast of Black Panther.

It’s pretty cool to see how drastically Black Panther has pushed things forward, both in the entertainment industry and the culture at large. Wakanda forever!

How ‘Black Panther’ brings Black Excellence to life unlike any other film

When it comes to hype, there’s nothing that can match a superhero movie — especially a Marvel superhero movie.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe, which continues to pump out massively successful films, has grossed more than $13.5 billion in profits, and offers a range of compelling, beloved characters such as Thor, Captain America, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Spiderman.

And with a star-studded cast, a fire soundtrack curated by Kendrick Lamar, and a budget which Marvel boss Kevin Feige says is “equal to and in fact surpass[es] our last couple of movies,” Black Panther is set to be yet another blockbuster sensation. Even before its release February 16, it’s set to break box-office records.

But the significance of Black Panther goes much deeper than box office numbers. It is an important moment for representation and Black excellence in both its storyline and production.

Black Panther is the alter-ego of T’Challa, the protector and chief of the many tribes of Wakanda. Although the outside world believes Wakanda to be a third-world country, it is in fact is a flourishing nation at the height of technological advances, which has, for its own safety, concealed its valuable resource vibranium from outsiders (vibranium is the same metal used in Captain America’s iconic shield).

Black Panther is a force to be reckoned with; the phrase “brains and brawn” would be an understatement. Enhanced with the power of an herb that is poisonous to anyone outside the Wakanda royal bloodline, he possesses superhuman strength, stealth, stamina, and healing capabilities, along with improved sight, hearing, and tracking skills.

Then there’s his top-of-the-line suit and weapons. And (of course) his genius-level intellect and his riches and influence, which crush the likes of Batman and Iron Man.

The existence of Wakanda is, at its core, a commentary on and resistance against aggressive European imperialism and its exploitation of African people and resources.

As Deirdre Hollman, one of the founders of the annual Black Comic Book Festival at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, said, “There’s so much power that’s drawn from the notion that there was a community, a nation that resisted colonization and infiltration and subjugation.”

These concepts play a key role in the central conflict of the film as Black Panther and his allies must face Ulysses Klaw, who wants to seize vibranium, and Erik Killmonger, a Wakanda native who wants to create a new world order.

The promotional trailer hints at these themes when, in a compelling, militant line, Killmonger remarks, “The world’s going to start over… I’ll burn it all!”

A Black Panther movie has been a long time coming. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the Panther first appeared in Fantastic Four in 1966, predating the creation of the Black Panther organization.

Black Panther also predates another black Marvel Hero: Blade, the half-human, half-vampire vampire hunter who first appeared in 1973 in The Tomb of Dracula and later came to life in the 1998 film starring Wesley Snipes.

With the importance and following of Black Panther, Marvel sought out an excellent team to bring the heroic vision to life, including Oakland-born director Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station and Creed), Californian actors Chadwick Boseman (42 and Get On Up) as T’Challa/Black Panther, and Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station and Fantastic Four) as Erik Killmonger, Academy Award-winning Kenyan-Mexican actress Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave and Star Wars: The Force Awakens) as Nakia, and Zimbabwean-American actress Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead and Mother of George) as Okoye.

In addition, costume designer Ruth E. Carter, who has worked on historical films like Selma, worked to create an amazing Afrofuturistic aesthetic. She explained her process in a Slate interview:

“[I] paid homage to the ancient African traditions that are disappearing…I looked at the Surma stick fighters and how the men draped the cloth around their bodies, and I was inspired by that. I looked at the Tuareg people and how they used the beautiful purples and gold and silver. And I looked at the Maasai warriors and infused that red color onto the Dora Milaje [the elite female fighters of Wakanda]”.

Angela Basset, who plays Ramonda (T’Challa’s mother), joyfully remarked at the world premiere that the most special thing about this project was “just seeing all these beautiful, talented black people in one place, this black nation, coming together, technologically advanced, un-colonized with so much swag and brilliance.”

Recently, many people have voiced their personal enthusiasm and swelling emotion through #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe.

Some state how important it is for kids to see themselves in their heroes to bolster their confidence, self-love, and dreams.

For their part, kids are hyped. In a viral video, students from Ron Clark Academy celebrate when they are told they will attend a film screening of Black Panther as part of a Black History Month project.

And at a time when President Donald Trump remarks in the Oval Office that immigrants from “shithole” African countries should not be welcomed in our country, the Black Panther, the legacy of Wakanda, and the celebration of Black celebrities shows pride and might.

Black Excellence: Diddy copping the Panthers makes perfect sense

Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs is many things. He’s the richest man in music, a Grammy award-winning artist, part owner of both a liquor and water company, and he owns his television station.

Nowadays Diddy has his sights on being an NFL owner and, as of last night, he may legitimately have a chance.

Sunday, Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson announced he’s going to put the team up for sale after the 2017 season in a letter on the team website.

The announcement came hours after the Sports Illustrated story reporting the Panthers settled with at least four former employees regarding inappropriate workplace behavior by Richardson.

“I believe that it is time to turn the franchise over to new ownership,” Richardson wrote. “Therefore, I will put the team up for sale at the conclusion of this NFL season. We will not begin the sale process, nor will we entertain any inquiries, until the very last game is played.”

Without missing a beat, Diddy made sure his interest was known, tweeting that he wanted to purchase the team and not forgetting to mention that it would be an historic feat if completed.

You may think Diddy is trolling — as he often does — but this is no gimmick. It’s an ambition that Combs is actually on record speaking about.

This past October, Diddy cosigned a tweet by Keith Boykin which read “Black players are 70% of the NFL. We have the power to defend Colin Kaepernick and Jemele Hill from the forces that would silence them.”

The statement must have triggered something in the Bad Boy CEO, because he then went on to describe what his league would look like.

Forget that Diddy is in the music industry, that he’s not shy of headlines, and that he would probably oppose most of the current owners’ viewpoints, the fact that the NFL has not had an African-American owner in the history of the league is why this would seem improbable.

Yet, ironically enough, it’s the exact reason why Diddy is the most formidable candidate.

Diddy — who was sued earlier this year for allegedly discriminating against ‘old and white’ employees at Revolt TV–  not only has the capital, business acumen, and passion for the job, but he has the influence of the culture.

A league that, just this year, had a former NFL player file a grievance for collusion against them, an owner start an uproar for comparing his players to inmates, and has seen a drop in ratings can use the hype Diddy brings.

Logistically this can work, too. Although the Panthers are $120 million more than Diddy’s total net value (the Panthers were valued at $2.3 billion in the last Forbes NFL valuations) North Carolina native and Golden State Warriors All-Star point guard Stephen Curry says he wants to help.

Yes, math dictates that they both still don’t have enough loot to buy the team, but it shows that Diddy is an attractive business partner who can attract the Currys of the world to jump on board.

Imagine an NFL team led by an ownership group of your favorite celebrities. When Black money is put together, these are the type of possibilities that can be achieved.

It’s definitely an exciting possibility to discuss. A simple change in the systems in place could potentially save the league.

Diddy posted a video voicing his bid for owner of the Panthers. Between putting Kaepernick against Cam for QB1 and putting up the most lit halftime shows, he makes a strong case. We can only hope for such a shake up.