Why Are People Wearing White to ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’? The Cultural Symbolism, Explained
At the world premiere of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on October 26, several stars walked the purple carpet wearing white or purple. It wasn’t just a fashion statement—Ryan Coogler, Angela Bassett, and other cast and crew might have been responding to a call for moviegoers, especially Black and Latinx people, to wear white with other accents when they head to theaters.
Why are people wearing white to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever? Here’s everything you need to know—especially if you’re interested in taking part.
Two fans issue a call to action
The call to wear white, along with other colors and accents, started with two TikTok users, Charles Anthony Bryant (@canthonybryant) and @Official_AuntieWiggz. Last July, Bryant posted a video instructing Black fans to wear white on opening weekend in order to honor the late Chadwick Boseman, who played King T’Challa in Black Panther and other Marvel films, and all the other ancestors of the African Diaspora. Boseman died of colon cancer in 2020 at the age of 43.
In the video, Bryant explains that by wearing white, “we are dressing in honor of those who have come before us, for the ancestors.” Bryant goes on to say that dressing “head to toe” in “a singular royal color” like purple is also acceptable.
After Bryant posted the video, many followers asked what non-Black fans should wear when they see the film. After consulting with @OfficialAuntie_Wiggz, Bryant posted a second video with additional instructions. Latinx fans are encouraged to wear “white with accents of turquoise, green, or yellow” to pay tribute to Mesoamerican culture, which inspired the MCU’s reimagining of Namor (Tenoch Huerta). In Wakanda Forever, Namor rules over a fictional undersea kingdom called Talocan.
Other fans of color are encouraged to wear “white with cultural accents” representing their own cultures. Finally, white fans—playfully called “flour rangers” in the comment thread on the first video—are encouraged to wear white with khaki, tan, beige, or gray accents.
Bryant stresses in his videos that the dress code is just for fun, and that no one should feel pressured into doing it if they’ve already got an outfit picked out. He also reminds non-Black fans not to culturally appropriate by wearing African regalia.
Speaking with Buzzfeed, Bryant explained the symbolism behind the color white. “The wearing of white can symbolize various things concerning spiritual practices and general life,” Bryant said. “It can be a sign of purity and cleansing; it can also be a color used to deflect negativity. The wearing of white can symbolize peace or baptism — a rebirth. The wearing of white in certain cultures also symbolizes a veneration of the dead or the ancestors.”
(featured image: Marvel Entertainment)
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