Hegel as a “villain”

When presented with the Hegel reading, we were cautioned that Hegel would serve as the “villain” in our talks about Afrofuturism. After having read the excerpt, it is clear that Hegel is the “villain” due to his misgivings about the “African character” (Hegel 150). Hegel states that, “We must lay aside all thought of reverence and morality – all that we call feeling – if we would rightly comprehend him; there is nothing harmonious with humanity to be found in this type of character,” (Hegel 150) insinuating that black individuals do not possess the same level of understanding about existence as white individuals do. In the context of this class, and in the context of Black Panther, Hegel’s comments about the “African character’s” fallacies in ethics and morality are particularly interesting.

As we discussed briefly, T’Challa and Killmonger’s major source of contention stems from an ethical issue. T’Challa has strayed away from displaying Wakanda’s true powers in order to maintain relative peace for his people, while Killmonger wants to use Wakanda’s power to allow oppressed individuals to rise up against their oppressors and take back what he believes is theirs. This movie is a “superhero” movie, so the roles of “bad guy” and “good guy” could have very easily been defined as “evil” and “good,” but instead, both characters are extremely concerned with the morality of their beliefs; upon reflection, it is hard to say who is really right or wrong. Black Panther, as a work of Afrofuturist art, hits back squarely at Hegel’s comments about the “African character.”

One Reply to “Hegel as a “villain””

  1. I love the suggestion here that one of the many things that might define Afrofuturism is a rejection of traditional, often-European derived, binaries that position, say, good vs. evil; those are of course often Christian-influenced moral structures that involve teleological progress towards enlightenment/divinity, rather than something that can be hesitant about progress (as Snead is). Perhaps its reductive to say, of Black Panther’s ethics, that “it’s complicated,” in today’s modern phrase, but I like both your reading of Black Panther as specifically rebutting Hegel and of the suggestion that we are ultimately in both texts dealing with theories of ethics – of human choices, and who gets to be defined as human in making those choices (Klaue has a robotic arm…is he less-than-human? He’s the clearest villain in the film…)

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