Shuri is the wildly brilliant 16 -year-old sister of T’Challa, who is king of Wakanda and the Black Panther.
In “Black Panther, ” we watch the charming hero take to the crazy streets to capture scoundrels, utilizing vibranium — Wakanda’s invaluable and sought after metal — to keep Wakanda moving forward, mastering technologically advanced vehicles to chase villains and having the super suit and shoes to match.
Guess who made all of those cool superhero tools ?
That’s right — young, brilliant Shuri.
T’Challa is dependent on Shuri’s creative, unique inventions and operations. Without her run, T’Challa couldn’t succeed, and she plays a leading role in the fight for the survival of Wakanda.
Basically Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, is a total badass genius. Oh, and she’s fairly brave and hilarious while doing it.
Moviegoers are singing kudoes for the character and the amazing possibility she represents.
Shuri is lifted up as a black female running the game in science, technology, engineering, and math( STEM fields, as they’re called ). It’s a portrait of black women that audiences rarely assure, and that representation is stimulating waves.
Shuri is leading the most technologically advanced society in the dreaming African world of Wakanda. It’s an incredible statement of how black girls can and should be leaders in STEM fields.
Shuri isn’t there to be the romantic lead. She’s not flighty, swooning, or presented as a prop of sexual desire. She doesn’t need to be saved. She has her own narrative . Action movies haven’t historically represented females well and especially not women who are interested in science and tech. “Black Panther” has flipped that narrative on its head.
Shuri’s brilliance is vital to keeping the vibrant society afloat and for defending it. She shows that girls can successfully do whatever they want and believe, and society will greatly benefit from that.
Unfortunately, this fact has been largely ignored in film, and in real life history. Scientists and technological wizards in cinema are oftens portrayed by white men, likely because of how the STEM industry looks like in the real world.
The discrepancies between men and women in STEM is staggering .
The numbers don’t lie.
Women make up only 24% of the country’s STEM employees, and the numbers are even smaller for black females . In 2012, black females took a total of 684 STEM degrees, in comparison to 6,777 for white men and 8,478 for white women.
Despite these statistics, Shuri’s character proves just how awesome and creative the STEM field can be when we amplify opportunities for black women and make spaces for them to lead.
And Wright understands the severity and importance of her character.
“[ Shuri] shows that when you have people coming together to just take time to construct characters well-rounded, well-thought-out , not one way, amazing things like that happen, ” Wright told HuffPost. “Having a character arc and journey is freshening, so it’s good penning … Now there’s a breakthrough of[ audiences] watching people[ they] be attributed to and that’s refreshing.”
Despite being dismissed in STEM, disrespected by male counterparts, and left out of opportunities, women of colour have stimulated historic STEM contributions.
And these same achieved black women are paving the way for future people of color to break through.
Organizations like Black Girls Code, The National Girls Collaborative Project, and the STEM Society for Women of Color, are working to make sure that girls of coloring are aware of the opportunities available to them and that they have the support needed to succeed.
Shuri in “Black Panther” is indicating black girls — hell, all black kids — just how essential their intelligence can be.
Let’s make sure that our society continues to make this story a reality in real life, too.
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