Wakanda isn't real, but neither is direct democracy in America, so why not freely devote ourselves to the Black Panther nation, anyway?

Is the recently impeached president's administration even real? Is Trump real? In a true testament to how much facts don't matter in the time of the 45th, the U.S. Department of Agriculture "accidentally" listed Wakanda as a free-trade partner, alongside 10 actual trade partners, on a tariff-tracking tool. A spokesperson for the Department addressed the oversight in a statement, "Over the past few weeks, the Foreign Agricultural Service staff who maintain the Tariff Tracker have been using test files to ensure that the system is running properly. The Wakanda information should have been removed after testing and has now been taken down."

Yet the tool was a fountain of specific details when it came to trading with Wakanda. "There were hundreds of data inputs for Wakanda… Different commodity groups offered on drop-down menus range from fresh vegetables and unroasted coffee beans to essential oils and livestock," according to NBC News. "Yellow potatoes had to maintain a '0.5 cent/kg' base rate when shipped in from the fictional East African nation, while frozen Chinese water chestnuts were tariff free if the U.S. decided to import them from Wakanda. Cows were also tariff free."

It's far from the first time reality has blurred with fiction when it comes to geopolitics and basic geography. Who hasn't Googled "Is Agrabah" real?" at least once? Aladdin's beloved fictional city, sometimes based on the beautiful landscapes of Marrakech, was named by Disney director John Musker when he created an anagram of "Baghdad" (where the 1992 animated film was originally set).

And then there's the fact that democracy as a concept has always been oversimplified and mistranslated from theory to praxis. As sociologist Malka Older points out, "[I]t's hard to claim that the United States, at any point in its history, has been a democracy in the rigorous sense of the word. This is partly by design. The foundations of the United States were defined by a struggle over how much democracy should be mitigated. It was terrifyingly radical to suggest that the people — even a very restricted group of people — might have a say in government, and the founders cautiously padded the rails to limit the power of the masses." Even as we've tried to help our idea of democracy grow up from this nascent fear of authoritarianism (with policies that were truly radical to the founding fathers, such as giving non-white people the right to vote and speak and eat and breathe whenever they want), America's never been a true democracy.

Today, it's arguably not a democracy at all. In 2016, The Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index downgraded the U.S. from a "full democracy" to a "flawed democracy" due to "a further erosion of trust in government and elected officials there." In 2014, a Princeton study concluded that the U.S. is an "oligarchy" rather than a democracy, a fundamentally unequal political system run by the economic elite.

So between increasing voting restrictions and gerrymandering, political power aligning with soulless corporations rather than public opinion, and spreading pronouncements that democracy is dead, who says we can't have a vibranium White House? Marvel's fictional indestructible element is just as real as American democratic freedom.


Chadwick Boseman Announces New Film

The Black Panther star will be playing yet another boundary-breaking action hero.

Deadline announced yesterday that the Black Panther star will be playing the lead in a new movie about the first African samurai, called Yasuke.

The film will tell the true story of its title character, a native of Mozambique who was brought to Japan as a slave in 1579. There, he became an indentured bodyguard to a Portuguese missionary, who eventually gave him to the Japanese warlord Oda Nobunaga in a diplomatic gesture of appeasement. Yasuke developed a complex friendship with the warlord, who eventually helped him to attain the elusive samurai title. He was the first and possibly only African to do so.

2018 MTV Movie And TV Awards - Red Carpet Image via People

Boseman will be co-producing the film, alongside Picturestart and Michael De Luca, and with Stephen L'Heureux and Logan Coles' Xception Content. The script will be written by Doug Miro, co-creator of the Netflix series Narcos.

The Yasuke legend has been on Hollywood's radar for quite a while. MGM announced only a few weeks ago that it will also be releasing a film based on the story, indicating a potential battle-of-the-period-pieces—though it's hard to imagine that any adaption could match one that has Boseman at the helm.

"The legend of Yasuke is one of history's best kept secrets, the only person of non-Asian origin to become a Samurai," Boseman said. "That's not just an action movie, that's a cultural event, an exchange, and I am excited to be part of it."

According to the authors of the biography African Samurai: The True Story of Yasuke, a Legendary Black Warrior in Feudal Japan, by Thomas Lockley and Geoffrey Girard, "People in the streets did not only gape at him. They bowed, heads to the earth, as they addressed him." For a star who has portrayed the king of Wakanda, James Brown, and Jackie Robinson, this progression to a powerful new historical figure seems natural.

Chadwick Boseman, about playing James Brown www.youtube.com

Boseman will also star in Netflix's Da 5 Bloods, Spike Lee's followup to BlacKkKlansman (2018), and he is currently filming 21 Bridges, a film by Game of Thrones director Brian Kirk about an NYPD detective with a second chance. His latest work, a reprisal of Black Panther's T'Challa in Avengers: Endgame, is in theatres now.

21 BRIDGES Trailer (2019) Chadwick Boseman Action Movie www.youtube.com

Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.

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Black Panther Gets Around. Wakanda's Subway Map Now Available!

Cartographer Jake Berman puts Wakanda on the Map

With Wakanda opening up to the world, it's high time they let visitors know how to get around.

Anyone who saw Black Panther knows that Wakanda is the best Afrofuturistic portrayal of what a city could be. What do Afrofuturistic idealized cities not have? Traffic! So although the Marvel film doesn't have time to go into these details we can assume comfortably that it had a first rate public transit system. Now Map enthusiast Jake Berman has provided us with a map of that system.

Check out Panther Island! From the original Black Panther Comics

As the cartographer explained,

"Design-wise, I've chosen to present Wakanda as a sort of city-state connected by its maglev system. With the speed maglev trains provide, Wakanda can be crossed end-to-end in an hour and a half, meaning that the places which were once Wakanda's border fortresses also serve as suburbs of the Wakanda Golden City. Wakanda's opening has brought large numbers of foreigners to the country for the first time, leading the Government of Wakanda to translate its subway map into English and French. As Wakanda is in East Africa, per writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, I thought it would be reasonable for the day-to-day language of Wakanda to be Swahili. (I apologize in advance to any Swahili speakers for grammatical errors.)

In essence, I wanted to synthesize the various iterations of Wakanda the nation-- both the original Silver Age concept of a hidden super-powered tribe with Ta-Nehisi Coates' modern re-envisioning of it as an African Hong Kong or Singapore. To that end, I took slight liberties with the canon, interpreting the Silver Age maps of Wakanda as Wakanda as it was in the '60s, merging it with Coates' new Wakanda as the modern city-state."

With Black Panther 2 already a sure thing it won't be long before Mr. Berman is contacted to consult.

Check out the link to some of his other projects as well as the map below:

Wakanda by Public Transithttp://maps.complutense.org/post/173704745411/waka...

Compared to Mr. Berman's map of NYC Transit:

Asking the age old question of why most maps don't have all train lines.http://maps.complutense.org/image/166264923196