Black Panther will be released on February 16 and presale tickets are poised to break all records. Having a movie about a Black superhero in a Black universe, populated with fabulous-looking Black people during Black history month is causing all Black people to become the Blackest-possible versions of ourselves. People are growing fros for the first time and ironing their dashikis. Hell, I almost wore my bonnet in public last week.
When I was a wee one, my mom would yell at us from the other room: “Come in here quick, a Black woman is on TV!” We would rush in to stare at the giant wooden TV hoping to see some glamorous brown-skinned creature draped across a fainting couch in silk and furs, but instead we saw a Black woman wearing yellow rubber gloves and a cardigan, selling Drano, Scrubbin’ Bubbles or another less-desirable product like Beano or Tampax Ultra Heavy Flow Pads.
And I was still happy.
Over time we got The Cosby Show, A Different World, Martin, Family Matters, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Living Single, and In Living Color, and all of those classic sitcoms during the Black TV Renaissance of the 1990’s. And they were great. Amazing. Shows.
But something was missing.
I grew up the oldest of three girls, and with my mother in the house, my father was outnumbered 4:1 with Barbie dolls and bras and estrogen. He did his best to even the score by feeding us a steady diet of Sci-Fi & Fantasy and Action films. So even though The Little Mermaid may have caused me to sing very badly and pretend to be a princess with a fancy fishy butt, I also grew up watching Indiana Jones, Short Circuit, The Night of the Comet, The Karate Kid, and Rambo.
I wanted to fly and jump and kick and repel off of buildings and use throwing stars like Bruce Lee. I wanted to be badass like Sarah Connor; ever ready with two tickets to the gun-show, kicking ass, taking names and saving the world. I wanted to be as fearless as Ripley from Aliens and I was definitely going to marry Harrison Ford or Michael J. Fox, and my parents were just going to have to get over me marrying a White boy. (Update: They got over it.)
But I almost never got to see someone who looked like me leading the show– sometimes a Black man but certainly never a Black woman. Black women rarely got to be an essential part of the crew. If she existed in a movie, it was a miracle if she had any lines or didn’t die within 30 minutes.
Then Catwoman happened. Let us never speak of it again.
With a precious few exceptions, like Zoe Saldana in Colombiana, we’ve been woefully bereft of Black women kicking behind since the days of Pam Grier. But things are changing. Recently Taraji P. Henson just debuted Proud Mary and it looks amazing.
Somewhere in America right now, somebody’s mama is yelling at them to run into the living room real quick so that they can see the Black woman on TV. And those Black women are Lupita Nyongo and Angela Bassett in the Black Panther trailer. And in the future, if that little girl runs to the TV to see a Black woman wearing yellow rubber kitchen gloves, there’s a bigger chance that she’s about to take them off, along with her earrings, and smack a bad-guy with them.
Sheri Flanders is a comedian and writer who teaches at The Second City and is a theater reviewer for Chicagolandmusicaltheater.com and Performink. You can find information on upcoming shows on her comedy duo Facebook page FLANDERS @Flanderprov
POC (People of Comedy)
Here are some local comedians in the Chicagoland area to check out!
Feb. 9th at 8pm
Free Show, RSVP for tickets at
The City of Lights Comedy Night
La Quinta de los Reyes, 36 E New York Street, Aurora, IL
Feb. 19th at 8pm
Not Yet Famous
Tickets available at the iO Theatre
1501 N Kingsbury Street, Chicago, IL
Feb. 24th at 8:30pm
This Is Your Brain On Beer Comedy Show
Motor Row Brewing
2337 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL
Tickets Available for Purchase:
Follow Alexis on Instagram @lexifyme for all things Lex!
Solo Show-The Milwaukeean- Finding My Identity
A Solo Show of his 10 year relationship with the city of Milwaukee, WI
February 2nd, 10pm
Tickets available at the DeMaat Studio, Second City