Black Panther: Wakanda Forever special screening for kids in Hamilton helps shatter Black stereotypes


For the first time in the five years since they moved to Canada from Dubai, Abdullah and Sophia Allamy were able to take their five children for a family outing — a special big-screen viewing of Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever

“This was the first time for us to go to a movie, all of us as a family,” Sophia said about the Saturday event, adding that having three children under five makes it difficult to plan trips out. 

Abdullah and Sophia Allamy surprised their five kids with a morning at the movies — watching Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. (Submitted by Ian Macpherson)

It was all possible because of Empowerment Squared, a Hamilton non-profit that supports racialized, marginalized and new Hamiltonians, and paid for the tickets and snacks. Around 120 people, mostly families with children, attended the Saturday morning screening at Jackson Square’s Landmark Cinema. Families grabbed popcorn while traditional African drumming rang out.

Leo Johnson, founder of Empowerment Squared, said the Black Panther films are meant to be fun, but there’s also an important message — they start conversations about how Black people are depicted in media. 

“A lot of Black families have seen themselves negatively stereotyped for a long time,” he said, adding that the Black Panther movies show Black people in a “different light”. 

Olohigbe Asikhia brought her seven-year-old son Jay and three-year-old daughter Joy to watch the movie. 

A Black mother and her two young children stand in front of a Black Panther: Wakanda Forever poster with their arms crossed over their chests - a salute that is made in the film.
Olohigbe Asikhia brought her kids, seven-year-old Jay and three-year-old Joy, to watch the screening. Asikhia immigrated to Canada five years ago after working as a flight attendant for a decade. (Submitted by Ian Macpherson)

Jay said his favourite parts of the movie were watching the fighting scenes, seeing Black Panther in his suit, and having popcorn. 

Asikhia said her children seeing Black superheroes on the big screen is important. 

“We have a preconceived image of what heroes look like,” Asikhia said. “So, to see our culture being showcased, the richness of our culture, is an amazing experience.

“For them to see it … It’s a way of connecting back to our culture and our ancestors.”

Johnson said Black children need to see themselves represented in the media, and it’s just as important for kids who aren’t Black to see Black people in roles as heroes and scientists, as is shown in the Black Panther films.

“We need to let Black kids and newcomer kids start to believe they have the same possibilities like every other child, and more importantly for non-Black kids as well, to begin to undo the negative stereotypes that have been created in society,” Johnson said. 

‘The diversity of appreciating other cultures’

Before the movie played Saturday, Johnson led an African drum circle to welcome visitors to the theatre. 

“There’s nothing more appropriate for what we were doing than opening with some African drumming,” he said. 

A Black man is playing a traditional African drum in front of a blank movie screen.
Leo Johnson, founder of Empowerment Squared, the non-profit that hosted the movie screening, led a drum circle before the film started. (Submitted by Ian Macpherson)

Asikhia said, “Where we come from [in Nigeria], this is what we call the talking drum. The talking drum is an old traditional way of chanting to the ancestors. 

“I really appreciate a little showcasing of culture and the diversity of appreciating other cultures, and the unity and the blending of all the cultures together.” 

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

(CBC)



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