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Moviegoers are praising this breakout character of 'Black Panther' for an amazing reason.

'Black Panther' is groundbreaking, but this brainy teen could change the world.

Meet Shuri.

Image via Marvel Entertainment.

Shuri is the wildly brilliant 16-year-old sister of T’Challa, who is king of Wakanda and the Black Panther.  


[rebelmouse-image 19472992 dam="1" original_size="716x298" caption="GIF from "Black Panther."" expand=1]GIF from "Black Panther."

In "Black Panther," we see the charming hero take to the crazy streets to capture villains, utilizing vibranium — Wakanda's invaluable and sought after metal — to keep Wakanda moving forward, mastering technologically advanced vehicles to chase villains and having the super suit and shoes to match.  

Guess who created all of those cool superhero tools?

[rebelmouse-image 19472993 dam="1" original_size="600x600" caption="GIF from "Black Panther."" expand=1]GIF from "Black Panther."

That’s right — young, brilliant Shuri.

T'Challa is dependent on Shuri’s creative, unique inventions and operations. Without her work, T'Challa couldn't succeed, and she plays a leading role in the fight for the survival of Wakanda.  

Basically Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, is a total badass genius. Oh, and she’s pretty brave and hilarious while doing it.

Moviegoers are singing praises for the character and the amazing opportunity she represents.

Shuri is lifted up as a black woman running the game in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM fields, as they're called). It's a portrayal of black women that audiences rarely see, and that representation is making waves.

Shuri is leading the most technologically advanced society in the dream African world of Wakanda. It's an incredible statement of how black women can and should be leaders in STEM fields.    

Shuri isn't there to be the romantic lead. She's not flighty, swooning, or presented as a prop of sexual desire. She doesn't need to be saved. She has her own story. Action movies haven’t historically represented women well and especially not women who are interested in science and tech. "Black Panther" has flipped that narrative on its head.

[rebelmouse-image 19472994 dam="1" original_size="564x309" caption="GIF from "Black Panther."" expand=1]GIF from "Black Panther."

Shuri’s brilliance is vital to keeping the vibrant society afloat and for defending it. She shows that women can successfully do whatever they want and believe, and society will greatly benefit from that.  

Unfortunately, this fact has been largely ignored in film, and in real life history. Scientists and technological wizards in film are often portrayed by white men, likely because of how the STEM industry looks like in the real world.

The disparity between men and women in STEM is staggering.

The numbers don't lie.

Women make up only 24% of the country's STEM workers, and the numbers are even smaller for black women. In 2012, black women took a total of 684 STEM degrees, in comparison to 6,777 for white men and 8,478 for white women.  

Despite these statistics, Shuri’s character shows just how awesome and creative the STEM field can be when we amplify opportunities for black women and create spaces for them to lead.

And Wright understands the gravity and importance of her character.      

Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for Disney.

"[Shuri] shows that when you have people coming together to just take time to make characters well-rounded, well-thought-out, not one way, amazing things like that happen," Wright told HuffPost. "Having a character arc and journey is refreshing, so it’s good writing ... Now there’s a breakthrough of [audiences] seeing people [they] relate to and that’s refreshing."

Despite being ignored in STEM, disrespected by male counterparts, and left out of opportunities, women of color have made historic STEM contributions.

And these same accomplished black women are paving the way for future people of color to break through.

Organizations like Black Girls Code, The National Girls Collaborative Project, and the STEM Society for Women of Color, are working to make sure that girls of color are aware of the opportunities available to them and that they have the support needed to succeed.  

Shuri in "Black Panther" is showing black girls — hell, all black kids — just how essential their intelligence can be.

Let’s make sure that our society continues to make this story a reality in real life, too.    

Image via Marvel Entertainment.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Moricz was banned from speaking up about LGBTQ topics. He found a brilliant workaround.

Senior class president Zander Moricz was given a fair warning: If he used his graduation speech to criticize the “Don’t Say Gay” law, then his microphone would be shut off immediately.

Moricz had been receiving a lot of attention for his LGBTQ activism prior to the ceremony. Moricz, an openly gay student at Pine View School for the Gifted in Florida, also organized student walkouts in protest and is the youngest public plaintiff in the state suing over the law formally known as the Parental Rights in Education law, which prohibits the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in grades K-3.

Though well beyond third grade, Moricz nevertheless was also banned from speaking up about the law, gender or sexuality. The 18-year-old tweeted, “I am the first openly-gay Class President in my school’s history–this censorship seems to show that they want me to be the last.”

However, during his speech, Moricz still delivered a powerful message about identity. Even if he did have to use a clever metaphor to do it.

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