Brow Beat

Ruling Wakanda Has Left T’Challa Ill-Prepared to Compete on Saturday Night Live’s “Black Jeopardy”

Besides the surprise Cardi B news, the highlight of this week’s Saturday Night Live was Chadwick Boseman’s appearance on “Black Jeopardy” in character as T’Challa from Black Panther. It seems like ruling a fictional African nation that never experienced colonialism has left Wakanda’s king unable to navigate the nuances of black culture in the United States. It’s not that he’s unfamiliar with the culture or its slang—the premise of a million fish-out-of-water sketches—but that he isn’t familiar with the everyday injustices that we take for granted in America. Take his answer to the clue, “The policeman says there’s been some robberies in your neighborhood and asks if you have any information”:

Not only do I tell this man what I know, but I also assist him in tracking down the offender. After all, our ministers of law and justice are only here to protect us. Is this correct?

It’s very much not correct, but in a better world it would be. Incorrectly assuming our society is just or sensible is the common theme running through all of T’Challa’s wrong answers: He endorses honoring your elders and sending children to college, when the “correct” answers are “sponging off your grandmother’s clean credit record” and “kicking your kids out of the house.” As “Black Jeopardy” host Darnell Hayes, Kenan Thompson’s reaction shots to T’Challa’s missteps are enough for a sketch all their own. The highlight has Thompson and Boseman in split-screen as T’Challa reasons his way to a correct answer, a scene that proves two things: Kenan Thompson is still the funniest performer on Saturday Night Live, and even when the horrors of white supremacy don’t translate, the horrors of terrible potato salad transcend all cultural boundaries.