The Importance Of Shuri
I know I've been writing about Black Panther a great deal, but I thought this story was really important. Yesterday, Disney announced that, due to the success of Black Panther, it is donating $1 million to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to expand their STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) programs and to establish STEM Centers of Innovation around the country, including in Oakland, California like in the movie. This move looks to be a nod to Shuri, the younger genius sister of T'Challa, the Black Panther, who also serves as his chief technologist.
She is a departure from her comic book counterpart who is depicted more as a physical warrior who reveres the role of the Black Panther. Instead, she is a younger woman who has the intellectual ingenuity on par with Tony Stark. Not that there is anything wrong with women being physical warriors, but it is so important to see women as technological geniuses. The great thing about Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, is that she is both inspirational and aspirational.
What Disney is doing with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America will allow so many young people in undeserved communities to aspire to be somebody like Shuri. And, hopefully, young women like her will be especially inspired to seek STEM positions.
According to the Economics & Stastics Administration's Women in STEM 2017 update, while women make up 47% of the workforce, only 24% are in STEM positions. The report adds, "Women make up a disproportionately low share of degree holders in all STEM fields, particularly engineering."
Shuri is not just a genius, but she is also relatable being a little sister. T'Challa has so much heaviness on his shoulder and Shuri serves as the light. She helps to balance T'Challa and bring a much needed smile to his face once in awhile.
Letitia Wright told E! News, "It's a privilege to be able to have such a character that a young girl can look back on, watch this film and be like, 'Hey, I might want to be a scientist. I want to be in technology.'"
But this tweet really touched my soul. With the hashtag #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe, this little girl proclaims how awesome it is to have a princess that looks like her.
Shuri is also important because superhero movies in general are male dominated. Black Panther, however, has turned this on its ear. While T'Challa might be the main character, the women around him are equally as important. And, Shuri is key as the young woman developing all the technology that helps his job being Black Panther easier.
I'm excited to see how they develop Shuri in the coming films and look forward to seeing her in Avengers: Infinity War!