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While the Dora Milaje are frequently referred to as the King’s bodyguards, they are much more than that.

By Faridah Gbadamosi The reviews for the very highly anticipated film "Black Panther" are up and they are glowing. Currently sporting a 99% Rotten Tomatoes score despite attempts to disrupt that, the film is well on its way to possibly being Marvel’s best film yet. The most gratifying thing in all these reviews filled with praises is that the Dora Milaje get to shine. Going into the film, the thing that gave me the most pause was how the Dora Milaje would be represented, how the women in general would be represented. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a mixed bag when it comes to female representation in their films, and even more frustrating is the lack of women characters of color up until recently (though Valkyrie was a truly fantastic character). With the Dora Milaje we get to see black women warriors — some of the best fighters in the comic book universe — brought to life. More than anything, I wanted them to be written and shown to be amazing. While the Dora Milaje are frequently referred to as the King’s bodyguards, they are much more than that. They were introduced in "Black Panther" Vol. 3 #1 by Christopher Priest as an elite squad that exists to protect Wakanda, its King and also serve as his ceremonial wives in training (an aspect that has been thankfully dropped from the film). Created in a bid to keep the peace, the Dora Milaje is composed of women chosen from the rival (and occasionally warring tribes) that surround Wakanda, each given an equal opportunity to be the King’s queen. The Dora Milaje are easily identified by their shaved heads and African tribal markings. They are highly trained in a specialized fighting style that makes them great at fighting in any environment and with just about any blade. Most of the Dora Milaje are not named but a few have been identified with storylines of their own. There is Ayo who is a part of the elite team within the elite Dora Milaje known as the Midnight Angels, there is Nakia, who eventually becomes the villain Malice, and of course there is Okoye, one of the most loyal of the Dora Milaje, a trusted confidant to the King. While the Dora Milaje have been prominent in the comic's run since their introduction, they were finally given the space to exist on their own in Roxane Gay’s recent, and unfortunately short-lived, series, "World of Wakanda".
Related: ROXANE GAY’S SNUB FROM THE “BLACK PANTHER” PREVIEW SPEAKS VOLUMES

Stop believing what other people have to say about Black women, and start believing what Black women have to say about ourselves.

This week, rumors about actor and heartthrob Michael B. Jordan's alleged new girlfriend — Latina Instagram model, Ashlyn Castro — began to take root. Almost immediately after, news of a boycott against "Black Panther" appeared, supposedly led by Black women (but we didn't get that memo). Not a boycott of Michael B. Jordan or any of his other upcoming projects. Just "Black Panther", which is currently everybody's favorite Black power emblem. In this narrative, Black women quickly became traitors to our race, thoughtless and trivial. Our imagined lack of support for "Black Panther" translated very easily into a lack of support for Black men altogether, and this was used as a justification for the misogynoir that ensued. First of all, the sheer ease and momentum with which this wildfire rumor spread is proof enough for me that some people simply cannot wait to talk shit about Black women. All they need is a reason to air their already long or deeply-held misogynoir, whether or not that reason is based in any truth. The "Black women are boycotting "Black Panther" because Michael B. Jordan is dating a non-Black woman" hoax of 2018 was a pathetic attempt to make Black women appear bitter and paint us as irrational and irresponsible, unfit to make decisions about the media we consume — an old song that also plays during conversations about Black women's love for "Scandal" and disdain for "Birth of a Nation". The beginnings of it rest on misogynoir as much as the public’s willingness to believe in it does. Created by a known troll account on Instagram, ground zero of the fake "Black Panther" boycott effortlessly built its narrative around a familiar stereotype: Black women become irrationally angry when Black men date people of other races, especially white and white-presenting women (I'm sorry this discussion is so cisnormative and heteronormative). This is a belief that continues to grow more and more, with less and less context in each evolution. Even Jordan Peele's "Get Out" dipped its toe in this flavor of misogynoir when Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) insisted to his girlfriend, Rose Armitage (Allison Williams), that the most likely reason for Georgina’s (Betty Gabriel) apparent coldness towards him was because she did not like the fact that he was in a relationship with a white woman. He had no evidence to support this claim when Rose questioned it, except to flatly say, “It's a thing.”
Related: THERE’S AN OFFICIAL BLACK PANTHER JEWELRY LINE, AND IT’S DOPE AF

Nerd cred and geek consumerism were created to fuel capitalism and make pop culture an exclusive club.

Since I was a kid, pop culture has always been a huge part of my life. Not only has it been a source of entertainment and escapism, but it has also influenced how I view myself and the world around me. Until this year, I thought I had to compromise my personal values for nerd cred and geek consumerism in order to be seen as a "real nerd". While nerd cred is your credibility as a nerd, geek consumerism is the pressure to constantly spend money on pop products. Both nerd cred and geek consumerism are related to each other in that the more money you spend, the better your nerd cred is perceived to be. In order to spend money on pop culture, you have to have the money to do so. Depending on your financial situation, your exposure to pop culture might vary from being up-to-date on everything to being exposed to movies and comics later than everyone else.  In article for The Mary Sue, writer Teresa Justino discusses what it was like to grow up Puerto Rican, female, and broke and how that impacted her exposure to geek culture. Justino writes, "Is it any wonder that many of the trappings of geek culture are only accessible to those who are predominantly white, male, and middle class? White women and people of color are often paid less, yet it feels like one has to constantly spend money in order to effectively participate in the geek community." Although one of my biggest fandoms is comic books, I can't afford to be as active in it as I would like. With comics, one of the few ways I own them is buying digitally with gift cards. I also use the site Humble Bundle and the digital library app Hoopla to either buy them cheap or borrow them. 
Related: COMICS COMPANIES NEED TO HIRE MORE BLACK WOMEN

It is 2017 and there is no excuse for any comics company to not be hiring Black women for any comic.

Mainstream comics companies have a terrible track record when it comes to hiring Black women and other marginalized comic creators. Both Marvel and DC Comics recently announced comics for Storm and Black Lightning, but the only creators involved are Black men. When it comes to who should work on Black characters, comics companies need to hire more Black women. https://twitter.com/heyjenbartel/status/917846708553469954?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fnerdist.com%2Fstorm-x-men-marvel-comic-ta-nehisi-coates-jen-bartel%2F Up until now, Black women writers such as Roxanne Gay, Yona Harvey, and Nnedi Okorafor have worked on mainstream comics. Their prominent backgrounds as award-winning literary writers are similar to the writing backgrounds of Black Panther writers Ta-Nehisi Coates and Reginald Hudlin. While these Black male and female writers are talented, Marvel's decision to hire distinguished writers in the arts belies an unfair standard.  In an interview for i09, iconic comic book writer Christopher Priest explained that the comic book industry has been polarizing for decades. According to him, comic book companies have white guys choosing people like them to work on comics so they could keep getting the same successful results. As a result, we mainly have the same old white guys popping up on newer titles and expect marginalized creators to have the same accolades they do. Of course, many Black comic creators do not have the same resources and opportunities as a white male. In fact, some of the most talented Black people working in comics are independent and self-published. Many have created webcomics that are available to read for free, using crowdfunding sites like Patreon to support their work. Crowdfunding is also used by small presses that publish Black comic creators, such as Peep Game Comix and Forward Comix. As a result of the synergy between Black comic creators, Black pop culture media, and Black comic creators, victories have been won. Nilah Magruder, a Black female comics writer and artist, won the Dwayne McDuffie comics award for her webcomic M.F.K. She also became the first Black woman to write for Marvel by writing A Year of Marvels: September Infinite Comic.
Related: “MAGNIFIQUE NOIR” SHOWS THE MAGIC OF BLACK QUEER WOMEN

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