Black Panther Empowerment | OneUnited Bank

Like many of us who saw Black Panther last month, we are so proud of the film and its depiction of Black people. The strong Black male and female characters, the powerful use of African tribes and symbols, the “fight” between right vs wrong and helping others vs focusing only on national (Wakanda) interests, are so perfectly portrayed and provide an uplifting message for the world. The record breaking box office results (almost $400 million globally in the first weekend) simply confirm the need for positive images of the Black community and that #BlackMoneyMatters!

So comments about hair may seem trivial…but represent a strategic decision made in the film and a journey that many of us are experiencing. And it’s why we only present natural hair on our Mona and Lady Liberty Cards.

As reported in the New York Times article, “How ‘Black Panther’ Got Its Gorgeous Afrocentric Hair“, Camille Friend, the head of the “Black Panther” hair department, stated:

“We did a totally Afrocentric, natural hair movie,” “There was not a pressing comb or relaxer on set. That wasn’t happening. We’re in a moment when people are feeling empowered about being black. And that’s one thing you see when you watch ‘Black Panther.’ The hair helps communicate that.”

Our President & COO, Teri Williams, notes her journey from relaxed to natural hair began when her daughter did “the chop” in high school and now wears dreadlocks. She asked “Mom, what were you thinking when you relaxed my hair at 10 years old!” Busted! It continued when she personally stopped using relaxers, but continued to straighten her hair through blow drying. When she began to question the use of heat, her stylist responded “Natural hair would not look professional for a bank president!” Huh? She finally freed herself from the Eurocentric depictions of professionalism and beauty and did “the chop”. She has never looked back.

While the choice to go natural is a personal one and does not always reflect a cultural or political statement, the natural hair journey can free our thinking and result in a greater appreciation of our blackness.

At OneUnited Bank, we encourage everyone to move your money…and your mind. We say, don’t just #BankBlack, but also #BuyBlack and #BuildBlack. We need to question our old ways of thinking and doing business and be more purposeful about how we spend our $1.2 trillion to lift up our community.
The wonderful actress Letitia Wright, whose stand-out performance of Black Panther’s sister and the Princess of Wakanda, Shuri, said in an InStyle article,

“Black Panther has made me embrace my natural black hair. The representation of natural black hair in the film has made me reflect on myself. My hair is permed so when I finished the movie it really made me think, ‘man, what is it about my natural hair that I don’t like?’ “It’s a real journey for me and I am increasingly questioning why I don’t embrace my natural hair. It’s important we did show a variety of black hairstyles too because if you want to show the continent of Africa you have to show women in a natural and real way.”

The Black Panther movie gets us to reflect on our hair…and more. “What is it about doing business with each other that we don’t like?” Let’s move our money…and our minds! Like Black Panther, let’s #MakeBlackHistory today!

OneUnited Bank

OneUnited Bank, the nation’s largest Black-owned bank and FDIC insured, understands we have to focus on money and technology to close the racial wealth gap. With your support, by simply opening and actively using a OneUnited Bank account, we will continue to accomplish our mission!

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