Black Panther and Mr. Wakefield

My favorite posting moment of 2018 has to be this one:

I’ve been so moved by Black Panther and I can’t fully explain why. I just know that every time I see the scene at the end I tear up.

It’s a boy in an urban neighborhood who’s life has been changed by seeing something unexpected. Finding someone to look up to can make all the difference in life. Although experts debate over whether representation matters all the time — I imagine it does in many cases.

When I think about how I grew up and how unlikely it was for me to succeed, I didn’t have any role models who looked like me. Instead, I had role models who didn’t look like me who took extra effort to enable me to move up in the world. I’m super grateful that a retired Caucasian male Boeing engineer was the difference that made the difference in my life. He didn’t have to visit my family’s tofu shop on the weekend to tell my parents I had to take a summer class at the nearby university — otherwise their dream for me to go to MIT could never happen. Small actions in others’ lives can really make a difference, and they often go unthanked and uncredited. But that doesn’t have to stop any of us from doing them.

I never had a chance to see Mr. Wakefield again in my life after graduating from high school, but looking back I know that I couldn’t have made it with out him. Thank you, Mr. Wakefield! —JM


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