Already, genetic testing services like 23&Me and Ancestry have encouraged multi-ethnic people to learn where their ancestors came from by testing their DNA and rediscovering parts of their lives they never knew. Many of the African-Americans who went to see Black Panther were newly inspired to explore the great continent and have purchased tickets and tours from where their DNA tests say their ancestors came from. From Ghana to Kenya and from Egypt to South Africa, increased tourism benefits everyone, from the tourists who enjoy an enthralling trip to the vendors and tour guides who make good money.
Thanks in great part to social media, African creatives have found themselves a huge market for their goods in the US. Websites like Etsy, eBay, and even Instagram and Pinterest with their new “Buy Now” buttons have renewed public interest in purchasing traditional African clothing, jewelry, soap, hair products, and more directly from African craftspeople and tradespeople. Prior to the internet, African goods had to go through brokers and large distributors, but today, the internet has decentralized much of the process. The UNITY Phase from the mid-90s is back in full force, but this time with better trade practices and authenticity.
The little sister of T’Challa, the main character, is Shuri, a teenage tech genius who is responsible for developing the super suits, communication devices, weapons, and medical equipment that makes Wakanda so powerful. Countless thinkpieces, op-eds, and studies have demonstrated that pitifully few women and non-white people are employed in STEM, particularly in computer programming, so Disney took some of its box office treasure and invested it back into cities so that students who were inspired by Shuri to study technology had the opportunity to do so. Disney gave the Boys and Girls Club of America a million dollars to start a fund for black students in STEM.
Ibtihaj Muhammad: This US fencer has made important strides for Muslim girls everywhere. Muhammad, who fences foil, observes Hijab both on and off the fencing strip and has forwarded the inclusion of conservative dress in both sports and high fashion. In interviews, Muhammad recounts the bullying and teasing she received as a youth and how she hopes the combination of her athleticism and proud faith will inspire other young Muslim and Black girls to push on, no matter what. Recently, the Olympian has partnered with Mattel to create a hijab-wearing Barbie.
Patsy Matsu Takemoto Mink: Mink was a Japanese-American US Politician from Hawaii who championed education initiatives during the Bush administration, specifically for young children and women. Among her work are the Early Childhood Education Act and the Women’s Educational Equity Act, both of which sought to ensure that there was adequate funding and management of both important benchmarks of the nation’s education system. Mink also introduced the landmark Title IX of the Higher Education Act. Under Title IX, education institutions that receive federal aid are prohibited from sex discrimination in their spending on activities, including sports. The title also requires that issues pertaining to sexual harassment or assault be handled with the highest importance.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: A celebrated Nigerian novelist, lyricst, and author, Chimamanda has long been lauded one of the foremost voices on African feminism in the modern age. She’s been called today’s Chinua Achebe because of her perspicacity into modern femininity and the intersection of tradition, Blackness, and womanhood. Chimamanda has been featured on the smash-hit Beyonce song “Flawless” for her spoken word piece on the meaning of feminism and continues to this day to champion the cause of social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.
Malala Yousafzai: The youngest winner of the highly-coveted Nobel Peace Prize, Malala made global headlines when she was shot in the face by members of the Taliban attempting to keep her from obtaining an education. Today, the Oxford student is a fierce advocate for women of all ethnicities and religious to receive an education that provides them information on global history, mathematics, literature, and writing. She also advocates for better refugee inclusion and ensuring proper care and education for those who had to flee their homes for economic, political, or other reasons.