Van Jones: 'Black Panther' is a revelation

Every once in a while, a movie arrives right on time.Earlier this year President Trump insulted people of Afri...

Posted: Feb 16, 2018 9:02 PM
Updated: Feb 16, 2018 9:02 PM

Every once in a while, a movie arrives right on time.

Earlier this year President Trump insulted people of African heritage when he referred to Haiti and African nations as "shithole countries." His words were an affront to countless Americans and people across the world; they flew in the face of American values of respect for diversity and opening doors of opportunity to all.

But while the White House is putting down people of African descent, Hollywood is lifting us up -- most spectacularly through the release of Disney-Marvel's new movie, "Black Panther."

"Black Panther" is a long-awaited film. It brings to life a technologically advanced, culturally rich mecca of black excellence. It takes place in Wakanda -- a fictional, fully autonomous African nation, rich in resources and innovation.

The nation is home to a brilliant ecosystem of black technologists. It is a sight to behold. A cinematic vision of black genius, accomplishment and prosperity that is rarely portrayed. And one I am so excited to witness.

I had the privilege of watching the film while seated in front of Denzel Washington, beside Whoopi Goldberg and in the company of almost every major black actor and celebrity on the east coast: Chris Rock, Gayle King, Tyra Banks, Robin Roberts and more. Denzel was moved to tears by the movie, said he felt like a proud father, and predicted it would make a billion dollars.

This film is a godsend that will lift the self-esteem of black children in the US and around the world for a long time. It shifts the understanding of where the power of African-descended people can come from. It underscores the fact that such power, in the new century, will come from access to technology more than any other source, and will inspire young people of color to pursue technology as a possible career path.

The film also manages to be radically pro-woman without being in the least bit anti-male. And will therefore give young women and men a reason to believe in themselves and their own capacity.

There's good reason for them to think this. Indeed, President Trump might be shocked to learn that parts of real-life Africa, like the fictional Wakanda, are rapidly becoming centers of high-tech innovation.

Some of the biggest tech companies, including Google and Facebook, have expanded their offices to Africa. African companies and entrepreneurs (from Kenya, Nigeria and elsewhere) are global leaders in facilitating e-commerce and internet access. In fact, today there are 314 active tech hubs in 93 countries across Africa.

And in the US, African immigrants employ large numbers of American workers in startups and projects in local tech hubs from coast to coast. In fact, Nigerian immigrants are better educated than white Americans -- by far.

According to the US Census Bureau, 43% of African immigrants have college degrees, compared with 23% of the general US population. And nearly two-thirds of Nigerian immigrants in particular have earned college degrees.

They are part of the rising generation of both African and African-American technologists in the United States.

There are so many extraordinary groups right here working to open up opportunities for the people that look like those represented in Wakanda. These groups include AI4All (Artificial Intelligence for All), the Hidden Genius Project, Code 2040 and Black Girls Code -- and that's just a piece of it.

Personally, I had the privilege of founding #YesWeCode with Prince in 2014. The initiative came straight out of Prince's imagination: What if kids from the hood could upload apps instead of just downloading them? So, we got to work.

#YesWeCode has since partnered with the Opportunity Hub in Atlanta to put together a $6 million scholarship for underrepresented youth to pursue coding and other tech skills at We Can Code IT, Code Fellows, Thinkful, and Treehouse. And in 2017, we were able to support 100 young people to realize their dreams of becoming software developers.

We Americans find ourselves at a pivotal moment. On one hand we have our Commander-in-Chief denigrating the value of African countries and immigrants. On the other hand, a new cadre of forward-thinking creatives in Hollywood have produced a magnum opus of black excellence.

We are in the midst of a battle between Donald Trump's negative vision of Africa (and African-Americans) and Wakanda's inspiring one. In this contest, those who are on the side of opportunity and inclusivity, of black technologists and innovation, are winning.

A better future beckons, and it's closer than you think.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 93556

Reported Deaths: 2810
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds6974155
DeSoto541155
Harrison373272
Jackson338867
Madison320886
Rankin319075
Lee260667
Jones242078
Forrest239070
Washington217971
Lafayette208439
Lauderdale1999124
Bolivar179465
Oktibbeha175050
Lamar163134
Neshoba1536103
Panola144027
Sunflower141744
Lowndes139957
Warren138150
Leflore136980
Pontotoc123416
Pike121248
Monroe118865
Scott116425
Copiah116233
Coahoma112327
Holmes109258
Marshall107615
Lincoln106753
Grenada106135
Yazoo103829
Simpson101143
Union97824
Tate95137
Leake93937
Adams91936
Wayne87721
Pearl River86550
Marion84133
Prentiss81117
Covington80522
Alcorn77311
Itawamba76221
Newton75723
Tallahatchie75418
George74913
Winston72419
Tishomingo65837
Chickasaw65524
Tippah64216
Attala64125
Walthall59325
Clay57817
Hancock56121
Jasper55415
Noxubee54315
Clarke53539
Smith52314
Calhoun50612
Tunica47913
Montgomery45520
Claiborne45216
Lawrence42512
Yalobusha41714
Perry40718
Quitman3745
Humphreys37315
Stone35511
Greene34517
Webster33113
Jefferson Davis32511
Carroll31212
Amite31110
Wilkinson30217
Kemper28615
Sharkey26312
Jefferson2429
Benton2191
Franklin1893
Choctaw1795
Issaquena1033
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 131405

Reported Deaths: 2292
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19015337
Mobile13066289
Montgomery8674173
Madison758375
Tuscaloosa7240114
Lee571359
Shelby568450
Baldwin506149
Marshall383543
Etowah335547
Calhoun333839
Morgan319726
Houston270822
Elmore254947
DeKalb235519
St. Clair223435
Walker222680
Talladega206926
Limestone199519
Cullman184517
Dallas174826
Franklin174328
Russell17132
Autauga169024
Lauderdale164633
Colbert160626
Escambia156225
Blount155114
Jackson150611
Chilton148527
Dale133043
Covington130927
Coffee12778
Pike11559
Tallapoosa113683
Chambers113042
Clarke104917
Marion94228
Butler90938
Barbour8357
Winston70912
Marengo69919
Lowndes64827
Pickens63514
Bibb63210
Hale61528
Randolph60812
Bullock58714
Lawrence58520
Monroe5758
Geneva5724
Cherokee56516
Washington54613
Clay5427
Perry5376
Wilcox53111
Conecuh52311
Crenshaw52331
Macon47720
Henry4724
Fayette4219
Sumter41819
Lamar3462
Choctaw34512
Cleburne3236
Greene30015
Coosa1643
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