In the United States, we like to believe that our brand of democracy works to make our country great. But for whom? George Washington believed that only the “lower class of people” should serve as foot soldiers in the Continental Army. Thomas Jefferson envisioned his public schools educating talented students “raked from the rubbish” of the lower class. John Adams believed the “passion for distinction” was a powerful human force: “There must be one, indeed, who is the last and lowest of the human species.”
These founding fathers, many of them holders of enslaved persons, have always intended for many people to be left out of the social contract. Enter Eric (Killmonger) Stevens, dual citizen of the U.S. and Wakanda and the antagonist of Marvel’s Black Panther.
First introduced in the 70’s amongst the backdrop of decolonization, Killmonger, an M.I.T. graduate, certainly knows the troubling histories of both his nations. Eric Stevens/N’Jadaka, is marginalized in the United States and branded a villain by his homeland’s ruler (and cousin). Despite his questionable actions, in the end he seeks what we all want: the supposedly unalienable rights of a citizen.