Making Gumbo

Wakanda Presents an Anti-Bigotry Proposal to the Triangle Model-UN

Wakanda Forever!

March 3, 2018, on the campus of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, I was the keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the Triangle Model United Nations. As it is stated on the Triangle Model UN website, “Our mission is to create a Model United Nation’s conference for middle school students in North Carolina and beyond that is professional, high quality, and allows for and embraces the diversity of delegates from different backgrounds, preparation levels and experiences.”

As keynote speaker, I knew it was my job to set a tone and deliver an opening message that would connect to the meeting theme of examining ways to fight “…the rise of nationalism and extremism… and move toward unified development.” How could I, this old professor, do that in a way that would excite and engage the thinking of these middle-school kids?

Well, given the way the movie has captured the imagination of our nation, especially young people, I presented myself as a delegate sent by King T’Challa, the Black Panther. Declaring myself the proxy delegate from the Kingdom of Wakanda, I presented the Wakandan anti-bigotry proposal to the gathering of the Triangle Model UN.

To quote my speech, I said:

“To the Secretary General and to the distinguished representatives, delegates and ambassadors of the nations represented here today, I bring you greetings from the Kingdom of Wakanda and King T’Challa, the Black Panther.

Wakanda Forever!”

[There was an audible reaction from my audience; gasps and giggles.]

“What King T’Challa and all of Wakanda is saying through me today, is that we must deal with each other as if we are all of the same tribe; no worry about who are the ‘we’ and who are among the “they.’ We must treat each other with respect for the humanity that we are all members of; no, us versus them.

Humanity Forever!

How do we create that world where we all respect each other no matter our tribes, no matter our background group memberships? We must train people to stand against bigotry by using this interpersonal strategy: “I’m sorry I find that kind of language offensive, it hurts me.”

I thank you the UN for listening to the Wakandan proposal to you for action, to create training programs to develop interpersonal leaders who will speak up against bigotry in all its forms.  We need, humanity needs, interpersonal leaders who will speak up against bigotry against women, bigotry against the disabled, bigotry against religion, bigotry against homosexuals, transgender or the gender fluid. We need, humanity needs, interpersonal leaders who will stand up against bigotry in all its forms.

That is what the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was telling the world when he said,

“The greatest tragedy of this age will not be the vitriolic words and deeds of the children of darkness. But the appalling silence of the children of light.”

You Delegates of the United Nations are the representatives of the ‘Children of Light.’

To slow and stop the rise of global nationalism and extremism, the UN needs to train interpersonal leaders to speak up against bigotry in the small interpersonal moments where extremism starts. That is our, the Kingdom of Wakanka’s proposal to you.

Humanity Forever!”

A couple of days after, I got an email from one of the organizers of the event, Sumana.

Sumana wrote to say:

“We received many positive comments regarding your talk from both teachers and students. Several of the teachers told us they thought your talk was a perfect fit for the theme of the conference and said they thoroughly enjoyed it. I also overheard many students discussing your Black Panther reference, which I think they really appreciated.”


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