picture courtesy Of Marvel/Disney
Disney said it would donate $1 million of the proceeds from “Black Panther” to STEM programs at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, in a nod to one of the movie’s key themes: how technology can empower young people from marginalized communities.
The blockbuster film is set in Wakanda, a country whose surplus of the fictional metal vibranium has enriched it tremendously. Many of the technologies in the film are invented or controlled by Shuri, the sister of T’Challa, the Black Panther and Wakanda’s king. Shuri, 16, plays a similar role to “Q” from the James Bond films, providing her brother and the kingdom with vibranium-powered vehicles, weapons and other innovations.
The chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, Robert A. Iger, made a statement saying it was thrilling to see how much the technology in the film had excited young audiences.
“It’s fitting that we show our appreciation by helping advance STEM programs for youth, especially in underserved areas of the country, to give them the knowledge and tools to build the future they want,” he said.
The $1 million pledged by Disney is only a fraction of the money that the film has brought in. In less than two weeks in theaters, “Black Panther” made more than $700 million worldwide, making it one of the fastest grossing films ever.
In a Twitter thread on Tuesday, the journalist Gene Demby, who writes and hosts a podcast about race for NPR, was dismissive of Disney’s contribution, calling it a “rounding error.” He wrote about how Disney has benefited from enthusiasm about the merits of “Black Panther” and its representation of black people.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of America, a federated organization with independent clubs in cities around the country, said the money would be used to create new STEM innovation centers in 12 cities. (The acronym stands for science, technology, engineering and math.) Those cities include Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis, Washington and Oakland, Calif., where the director of “Black Panther,” Ryan Coogler, was born and where some of the film takes place.
Disney’s donation imitates the end of the film (and in case it wasn’t clear, spoilers follow). Shuri and T’Challa arrive in the United States, landing on a basketball court in Oakland. As a part of a new decree, T’Challa places his sister in charge of global outreach around technology, giving underserved kids the chance to benefit from Wakanda’s riches.