Black Panther has inspired the Diaspora in myriad ways. The film has been applauded by black people across the world for touching on the complex relationships between Africans and African Americans, for serving up positive images of African culture for global audiences, and for providing a vehicle that allows black people throughout the world to showcase their heritage and their pride.
As a recent article from The Intercept explains, this influence has shown up in Brazil in the form of rolezinho pretoi, which roughly translates to “black stroll,” in which large groups of Afro-Brazilians turn up together to walk about an area. The stroll has a recent history of being a form of protest in Brazil.
In the Intercept piece, one group of Afro-Brazilians coordinated a rolezinho to watch Black Panther at one of Rio de Janeiro’s most exclusive high-end shopping malls, Leblon. As the writer notes, Leblon is couched in one of the most affluent areas in Brazil and is also a predominantly white space in a country where the majority of the population now identifies as black or mixed race.
This made the Black Panther screening as much a political act as a celebration.
From The Intercept:
Organizers would start an event on Facebook and call for everyone to meet at a certain mall at a certain time. Young, mostly dark-skinned residents of the city’s poor and working-class neighborhoods on the urban periphery would take a sometimes one- or two-hour train or bus ride to shopping centers in the bougiest enclaves and just go for a walkabout. In some cases, thousands showed up, much to the horror of Brazil’s white elite, whose ever-present racial and class-based fears were palpable. Malls, including Shopping Leblon, closed down in anticipation of these protests. Others were broken up with tear gas and rubber bullets.
The rolezinho for the global blockbuster, then, was a way to celebrate blackness in a highly visible way, to reclaim a highly segregated and exclusive space.
Reinaldo Junior, an actor who participated in a recent rolezinho, told The Intercept, “We wanted to occupy this space today to say, ‘We are alive.’”
“We almost never see any of our people in this kind of space. It’s as though this space is only meant for white people,” said Lucinío Januário, another actor. “So when we have a film written by black man, with black actors and black producers, we felt it was our duty to occupy this space so we could serve as an example.”
Ygor Marinho, a 28-year-old student who participated in the recent rolezinho and watched Black Panther for the first time, said that the movie’s black-majority cast filled him with pride.
“It makes me want to win. It makes me want to fight. It makes me like myself more, like my own skin tone, like my kind of hair, like the shape of my nose, like the shape of my lips, like myself more,” Marinho told The Intercept, “because you start to see people who are like you, and you see how they carry themselves—empowered, happy with themselves—and you start to like yourself better.”