So, warning, this post might contain spoilers. And it’s a little lengthy but means a lot, so bear with me…

I saw Black Panther last night and yes, the hype is real. It was what I expected and more. Definitely the best Marvel film to come out…dethroning my number one…Spider-Man. Tom Holland, you are still the love of my life…don’t worry lol.

Anyway, I’ve been so hyped for this movie ever since the first trailer dropped a few months ago. As I’m sure you are aware of by now, my family and I go nuts over Marvel. I’ve collected comic book cards since I was a kid, would wake up early Saturday mornings to watch X-Men on tv, and would steal my brothers toys so that my Barbies could have superhero boyfriends. We are a nerd herd. Luckily, most of my friends are too.

With that said, I knew I’d be fangirling all night, but I did not expect to get as sad and emotional as I did over certain scenes.

A little backstory on me…I was born in Hayward which is in the East Bay and grew up in a working class neighborhood. Being a 90’s kid, I want to say my generation was the last when it came to playing outside all day with your friends and not coming inside until it got dark and the lamp posts lit up. There were no electronics and the love of my life was my bike.

I grew up with the kids in my neighborhood and basically owned the “Palma Ceia” area. PC was the elementary school we all went to, and believe me, all the kids were pretty tight knit.

There was a specific trio that I’ll forever remember. We were in a lot of the same classes in elementary school and these three boys were inseparable. I was really cool with them, and yes, being the trouble maker I was in the sixth grade, I was suspended for fighting haha. And of course, these kids always had my back. Anytime I think of those PC days of careless childhood and running around our neighborhood, they always come to mind with the rest of them. Of course, once we got to junior high and high school, everyone pretty much went on to their own cliques, but these three were still inseparable.

I guess what this has to do with Black Panther…is that the director, Ryan Coogler is from the Bay Area and shot a lot of scenes in Oakland. His muse and partner in crime has always been Michael B. Jordan, and the both of them have become pretty synonymous with Bay Area culture.

There’s a scene where Michael B. Jordan’s character makes a comment saying…”what good is a kid from Oakland, running around believing in fairytales..” It choked me up.

If you’re not familiar with the directors work, he filmed the movie, Fruitvale Station with Michael B. Jordan playing the lead…as Oscar Grant. The kid that was murdered by BART police on New Years Day almost a decade ago. The line immediately brought me back to the Bay Area, that tragedy, and Michael B. Jordan in his black hoodie portraying a real life person. It made my chest hurt a little.

There are two versions of Oscar Grant that I know. The one that has his face splashed all over Oakland representing police brutality and being a part of this social justice movement. The one the media portrays. The one that’s sung about in BeyoncĂ© and Jay-Z songs whose name represents injustice and is known throughout the whole country…world even. Believe me, I was in London when it happened and would watch reports about it on BBC News.

Then…there’s the second version. The little boy who went to Palma Ceia, ran around Hayward with his two best friends, giving our teachers a hard time…pulling pranks and making everyone in class laugh.

What’s sad, is that after he died, those two other boys, John and Kris…were also killed a few years later. They were fathers that left behind kids of their own, who now grow up in the same area we did.

What’s funny is that all those years after elementary school, the words ‘Palma Ceia Boys’ were engraved on their headstones. It’s been several years since those days of childhood and their untimely deaths but once in awhile…mostly during anniversary dates, pictures of them wearing their Palma Ceia Panther tshirts at age ten will pop up on my Facebook newsfeed (yes, coincidentally our school mascot was the Panther).

I’ve lived around the world, from city to city and always get labeled as this “hipster indie chick.” But I’ll forever be a Hayward girl at heart. Those three are gone…but watching films like this, take me back to those days.

So, if you see Black Panther, it is more than just a Marvel Superhero blockbuster. As Michael B. Jordan has said in interviews….”it’s more than a movie, it’s a movement.” This film means so much to so many different people. The black community, POC’s, the East Bay folks to every nerd out there and kid that needs a hero that looks like them.

I guess I just want to thank Ryan Coogler in a way. For portraying an old friend in a different light and really putting a spotlight on the struggle. And for the record, I identified more with the villain than I did the hero. Killmonger, I will be your queen and we could change the world! Haha Wakanda forever! PC forever!