A King Has Fallen

My heart is heavy AF right now. This has been one hell of a year and we still have four months to go. Legit, this year started on some bullsh*t with the tragic death of Kobe Bryant and little did we know that this would set the tone for the remainder of the hell that will be remembered as 2020. Our racial anxiety is at an all time high, all manners of tragedy and chaos have occurred this year, and there isn’t any indication that things are slowing down. Hell, in just the course of a week we had a hurricane, Jacob Blake’s name was the latest black male hashtag (thankfully he is still alive), and now we have to make sense of the shocking death of Chadwick Boseman. Is it just me or does it seem like 2020 has been especially hard on black folk? As a community we have experienced abnormal amounts of loss, pain, and devastation. 

It hasn’t even been a full 24-hours since my niece sent me back to back texts alerting me to the death of Chadwick Boseman. And, if I’m honest, I have been crying ever since. I did not know Chadwick personally,but am deeply moved and saddened by this news just the same. Outside of being a fan of his work, there was something about his spirit that resonated with me. The news of his passing brought me to tears because I knew that we had lost a real one. The outpouring of love from those who were closest to him and knew him best revealed the same. The death of Chadwick Boseman is resounding for many. 

He was a champion both on and off the big screen and advocated for social justice issues alongside the best of them. A representation of positive black maleness and an inspiration to both children and adults alike, he was the embodiment of a strong black male persona and a true king. Just when you think you’re down, life knows how to put her foot on your neck. While the death of Chadwick Boseman is a harsh reminder that life is not promised and what we do with it matters. Chadwick was resilient in the face of turmoil and continued to work until the end. The virtue of a true king both literally and figuratively. He left us with many nuggets and tenets of which to live our lives by.

Whether we realize it or not, we too are resilient and able to persevere in the midst of chaos. This year has dealt us blows, some in which we may never recover from. But, perhaps the real lesson is not to recover from 2020 but to take stock of where we are and establish ourselves anew. To recover would be to return back to a state of normalcy. But, what was ever normal about the state of black people in this country? Much like Boseman’s signature character portrayal in Black Panther, T’Challa had to visit the ‘ancestral plane’ before he could emerge as the new Black Panther. We too must seek guidance and understanding elsewhere. We truly are our ancestors wildest dreams. It’s crucial that we stay connected to those who came before us so that we too can emerge as superheroes and be victorious.

So, to lose Chadwick only adds to this long list of woes. What’s worse is that this list will never be reconciled, nor will we be given an opportunity to air out our grievances. My advice, grieve now. I am tired of being strong and pretending that “okay” will be at the end of whatever it is that I’m feeling. Sometimes “okay” is a false narrative that we tell ourselves to push through and navigate a system and circumstances that will never favor us. Yet we still strive to be a part of greater society by stressing that our lives matter too. We do this on a daily basis y’all! Enough is enough. When things become too much we must take a moment and acknowledge our losses because this has been taxing on us. 

As we continue in this fight to peacefully exist and search for answers to many of our woes I am humbly reminded of Boseman’s words during a 2018 round table discussion with Stephen Galloway of The Hollywood Reporter when asked about the toughest thing about making Black Panther and if his thoughts about America had changed.

“Searching for what my real culture is,” he said. “As an African-American, I have searched for that my entire life. But [I was playing] a person who didn’t have to search for it. Having that, I value it. There is a certain patriotism to something that has never been lost — it’s ancient. And being able to hold on to that throughout the movie, I was like, ‘Wow, the weight of that is something I have to convey to the world.’ And I don’t know it, my parents don’t know it, my grandparents don’t know it. It was that thing.

“I don’t think that a film can necessarily solve the problems. Every person makes a seed grow. One person comes in and waters it. Another person tills the soil. But you know you are making an impact on the world. You know you are changing somebody’s mind and making someone think a little bit differently. At the same time, you know evil is always rampant. You know it’s always happening.”

Boseman was astutely aware of his blackness and was able to seemingly navigate Hollywood seamlessly as he was cast in multiple roles showcasing the strength and positivity of black men. A true king indeed, the life and legacy Chadwick Boseman left behind will resonate with generations to come and live in our hearts forever. Thank you King for tilling the soil!

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