Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is hitting theaters and along with fierce fashions, touching T’Challa tributes, and compelling combat scenes, the film will once again feature fascinating gadgets from the most technologically advanced [fictional] nation on the planet. It will also feature a crucial character who many believe will take up the Black Panther mantle.
In the original Black Panther, Shuri (Letitia Wright) is known not only as T’Challa’s witty younger sister but as Wakanda’s chief scientist…
and in the sequel, she’s joined by a fellow sharp-minded mastermind–*drools*– Riri Williams a.k.a. Ironheart.
Riri (Dominique Thorne) begrudgingly arrives in Wakanda as a brilliant young inventor who builds a suit of armor similar to Ironman’s to become a superhero herself.
Before she ascends to greatness in the African nation, however, Riri’s just a super-genius studying at MIT whose taken to Wakanda kicking and screaming by Shuri and Dora Milaje General, Okoye.
Luckily for us, beautiful Black queens excelling in the tech realm is not just a fairytale or movie plot because there are real-life super she-ros openly embracing their gifts in tech, unlike an initially unenthused young Riri.
Black women nationwide are making excellent strides in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and we’d like to showcase a few who could work wonders in Wakanda alongside Shuri and Ironheart.
Take a look at just a few of the many standouts below.
In February of last year, Chance The Rapper tweeted about the “NASA physicist who invented 3D movies and television.”
That woman is Valerie Thomas.
Thomas is a 78-year-old NASA scientist credited with inventing the illusion transmitter, the first mechanism to create the appearance of a 3D image using concave mirrors and rays of light. Thomas’s career began at NASA in 1964 and she was patented by 1980.
In an exclusive chat with Revolt, she spoke about her life and legacy in math and science in particular as a Black woman in the Jim Crow era. She also praised fellow Black women who worked with NASA.
“It just so happened that where I was in the organization, much to my surprise, there were quite a few African Americans,” said Thomas.
“When you hear about Katherine Johnson and Mary Jackson, and you see things written up about them being human computers, you probably also see another name: Melba Roy. She worked in the organization that I worked in when I first got hired at NASA.
She and a couple of others, including a woman who used to frequently check on me, were well respected in the organization. They were high level African American women in the organization. And I never asked, but my guess is that Melba probably was very instrumental in getting more African Americans in that organization. So, I was not in a typical situation in terms of not having many African Americans around. That was sort of unique.”
Lisa Gelobter is another standout who would take Wakanda to new heights. In addition to previously working as the Chief Digital Officer for the Department of Education under the Obama Administration, she’s CEO and Founder of tEQuitable, a company whose mission is to create a work culture that works for everyone by making workplaces more equitable. With 25 years in the computer science and tech industry, she’s led many ventures including the development of animation tools necessary for the use of GIFs.
“I worked at Black Entertainment Television Networks (BET) and Hulu prior to working at the White House,” Gelobter told Forbes.
“From the outside, it looks like I was super intentional with my career moves. However, every time that I learned about a job opportunity, I would ask myself if I would learn or grow from it because I’m a big believer that every company is a tech company. I worked on the tech side of the entertainment industry by inventing the Shockwave technology that media companies were able to build upon. Shockwave was the invention of animation on the web.”
We’d be remiss not to mention a young lady who’s been burning up social media with her truth-telling tech posts.
Alexis Walker stands out for not only being a scientist but an influencer. Her popular TikTok posts have garnered thousands of followers as she shares her everyday biotech and neuroscience lifestyle. Additionally, we love to see her journey from her graduate program at Loyola University to life as a Black baddie in STEM.
Lastly, tech Queen Hosanna Hali has continued to provide top-tier leadership for Black women looking to break into tech. Hali is an Azure specialist with Microsoft and the founder of The Tech Cornr, a platform she created to help women to pursue a career in tech. After being hired in 2018, Hosanna spent her first two years at Microsoft as a Technology Strategist working as the technical lead.
Hosanna sits on the Women @ Microsoft Professional Development board and in 2020, was highlighted as one of the ten influential Black British women who code and break down barriers by People of Color In Tech.
We love to see it!
Shout to out these brainy and beautiful women. What other possible Wakandan super she-ros should we add to the list?
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