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How an 8-year-old autistic boy inspired #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe

Black Panther theGrio.com
(Photo: Marvel)

Black Panther, the biggest, Blackest movie of the year, just dropped this weekend, and it’s been brekaing records and inspiring fans worldwide.

But one of the biggest stories about Black Panther is not necessarily the records broken, or the money made at the box office, but the lives the film has touched. The first Marvel Cinematic Universe movie to be led by a Black cast and Black director inspired the hashtag #WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe.

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The hashtag was created by Kayla Sutton, director of online marketing for Black Girl Nerds, whose 8-year-old autistic Black had been getting more and more excited for the movie with every new trailer and clip, according to The Hollywood Reporter. 

So, she asked her son about his love for the movie and was touched by his explanation.

“I said, ‘Hey, why are you excited for the movie? ’Because it was just curious to me, because for him he’s young, he’s Black and autistic. I feel like he has a unique perspective on the world and he always has,” Sutton told Heat Vision. “He’s like, ‘He’s awesome, he’s like the coolest in all of the comic books and all of the stuff. And he’s Black like me.’”

Stories of inspiration

It was such a powerful statement that Sutton decided to take to social media with a hashtag for others to share their stories of inspiration, and Sutton said that decision has been “just blowing me away with the response that it has gotten.”

Now, with so many people adding their voices to the story of why representation matters, Sutton hopes that the conversation being generated on social media can show an entire generation the positive impact that good representation can make.

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“The gift that I could have gotten from this whole thing is that it did make people emotional, it did make people think, and actually be able to put their feelings out there for what this has done for them,” she said.

#WhatBlackPantherMeansToMe is filled with stories about inspiration, about kids being able to find a hero to look up to, about amazing Black women, and so much more.

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