By Andrew Pillow
As the world is reveling in the success of Black Panther, we should use this opportunity to discuss blacks in other fields that don’t get a lot of attention. Part of the appeal of Black Panther is that many black kids had never seen a black superhero before; this is true for many other fields as well.
- My students had never seen a current black inventor.
- My students had never heard of black directors.
- My students were shocked to learn of the existence of black race car drivers.
- There are many other fields like coding and software engineers where students knew blacks existed, but couldn’t actually name one.
In order to combat the non-representation that we see on TV, here are some black people in other fields your students may not know. For the purposes of this list, I am only highlighting fields students perceive as traditionally white dominated.
Startup founders: Who are some black examples of Mark Zuckerberg?
Riana Lynn – Founder and CEO of FoodTrace, a startup that builds mapping apps and software for food sourcing management.
Tristan Walker – Founder & CEO of Walker & Company Brands.
Christopher Gray – Founder of a Scholarship app called Scholly. He received an investment on the show, Shark Tank.
Inventors and Engineers: Who are some black examples similar to Elon Musk?
Lonnie Johnson – Nuclear Engineer with tons of different patents, but you probably know him best for inventing the Super Soaker water gun.
Mark Dean – Computer scientist who holds three of the nine patents for being the co-creator of the 1981 IBM personal computer. Inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Other Sports: Who are successful black athletes in sports that aren’t basketball, football, or track and field?
Lewis Hamilton (Racing) – He is one of the first black Formula 1 driver. He’s also currently ranked number 1 in the world and on track to be the greatest ever.
Ibtihaj Muhammad (Fencing) – She is an Olympic level sword fighter that made waves when she became the first woman to wear a hijab while competing for the United States. She eventually won a bronze medal.
Simone Manuel (Swimming) – This swimmer pulled a huge upset to win the 100 metres freestyle. Which gives her legitimate claim to being the fastest female swimmer in the world.
Movie Directors: Who are black examples similar to Steven Spielberg?
Ryan Coogler – He’s only directed three movies, but they were Fruitvale Station, Creed, and Black Panther which were all massive successes.
Antoine Fuqua – He has directed a ton of movies but he is probably best known for Training Day.
This is by no means an “exhaustive list” of people, but hopefully it gives you a good start on finding current non-rappers and basketball players you can share with your students.