Queen of The Lab: Disney’s Newest Princess is a Black Teen Genius
On February 16, 2018 Marvel Studios, now owned by Disney Studios, introduced viewers to the world of Wakanda. Black Panther is the first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie that was directed by an African American male, Ryan Coogler, and also feature a majority Black cast. The movie features an amazing cast of strong black men and women, one of whom stole the show every time she appeared on screen. Princess Shuri is the younger sister of the films protagonist T’Challa, the alter ego of the hero Black Panther.
When we're first introduced to Shuri in the film, she comes across as the cute little sister meant to be the comic relief with her bubbly personality and the fact that she isn’t afraid to pick on her Kingly older brother. Shuri could have easily faded into the background as a secondary character until it was revealed that she is the brains behind the throne, having created all the technological advancements for the country of Wakanda. Her accolades include building all of her brothers suits, weapons and designing a safer system for harvesting vibranium, Wakanda’s most precious resource and one of the sources of conflict for the film. In a film full of #BlackGirlMagic, Shuri quickly becomes a favorite character.
As the movie progresses she takes a pivotal role in many of her brother’s conflicts without ever having to leave her lab. Princess Shuri designed a system that allows her to control varying modes of transportation, including a car and several different planes. While maintaining the different technologies that have been left in her hands, Shuri also found the time to develop a badass set of panther shaped hand cannons for herself.
Disney’s most recent princesses have been straying away from what we could describe as “ the traditional princess mold” into diverse and incredibly talented women. Shuri picked up that torch and ran with it, becoming a standout character that made us fall in love with black women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Young girls of all ages were able to see a Princess that used science and technology to help save her country. Hopefully seeing Shuri will encourage young women, especially black women to show an interest in STEM. In the last few years programs have been introduced across the country to encourage more young women to pursue careers in STEM.
Black Girls Code is one such program. Founded in April of 2011, the program's focus is to provide young women in underserved areas with the opportunity to experience introductory computer programming classes. They offer different events across the country, allowing girls as young as eight to learn a new skill. For more information about the program visit Bblackgirlscode.com.