What Chadwick Boseman’s death revealed to me

https://www.instagram.com/chadwickboseman/

I don’t normally cry over celebrity deaths. I’m moved, I’m sad, I feel for their families and miss them, but I don’t usually cry cause I really never knew them beyond their on screen personas.

So why does Chadwick Boseman’s death feel different?

When I learned of the news around 10:30pm on August 28th I was without words.

“How? Cancer? What? Four years!!”

Per the official press release on his Instagram the following was stated:

“Chadwick was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, and battled with it these last 4 years as it progressed to stage IV.
A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much. From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy.”

These lines keep replaying in my head. They have been replaying for the past 3 hours. He died at 42. Four years prior he was diagnosed with stage III cancer. And even with that serious diagnosis he performed his duties as an actor and humanitarian.

Some people have a cold and can’t get out of bed. A broken heart and can’t eat. A sick pet and calls in from work. A headache and can’t turn in an assignment. Chadwick Boseman has stage III colon cancer and does what he loves anyway.

I can’t even imagine what was going through his head and his family’s head at that time and through the 4 years since the diagnosis. He was blowing up as an actor in his industry, major roles, more responsibilities beyond just acting, and I’m sure setting his family up financially for their future that would eventually no longer involve him.

In all 100% transparent honesty, I think I am so distraught over his death because of what he contributed to Black Panther and because I see him and his story as a metaphor to Black people in America.

This country brought us here as property against our will, refused to free us or let us return to Africa, endangered our language and traditions, then beat, raped, hung, terrorized, and oppressed us for literally centuries. With every advancement for Black people in America it’s been met with opposition and terror, even to this day!

This year has already been a lot but the compounded experiences of fear, terror, death, and pain to Black bodies is paralyzing and deafening.

https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/

According to Mapping Police Violence:
“Police have killed 751 people in 2020.” And “Black people have been 28% of those killed by police in 2020 despite being only 13% of the population.”

And it’s only August.
Jacob Blake is paralyzed from the waist down yet shackled to his hospital bed. Breonna Taylor’s murders are still free. George Floyd’s cries are stained into my memory. Every week it’s a new name or set of names. A new story or set of stories. AND NO FUCKING JUSTICE to be served.

I say all that to provide context of where my brain is at.

So when I think of Chadwick Boseman’s death and all that he accomplished while battling cancer I’m torn because he was so fucking amazing, resilient, talented, and dedicated to his craft, career, family, and community.

Driving, traveling, running for office, seeking higher education, protecting, defending, reading, learning, unlearning, celebrating, drinking, writing, eating, shopping, giving birth, bird watching, swimming, going for a fucking run in your own neighborhood ALL WHILE BEING BLACK.

When can we stop doing “the most”? To be Black and consciously exist in America is the most. When can we truly be in remission from this cancer called the American dream that was not created with us in mind? When can we be free of the color of our skin and humanized?

I do not have any answers for you. I don’t think any Black person does because the battle we fight everyday is not even our fucking problem. It is White America’s problem. But until white people identify it as their problem, they need to handle we are stuck, waiting for them to give a damn.

Meanwhile we are being resilient. That word that is both a blessing and a curse, but it has kept us and allowed us to keep each other. We don’t wait with idle hands. With hope and pride, we Protect our youth. Warn our youth. Encourage each other to live the lives we deserve to live despite the opposition, despite the oppression, despite their discomfort. Live because you can. Live because someone lived for you to live.

I am forever grateful to Chadwick Boseman and the incredible cast of Black Panther for bringing to life the beauty, honor, respect, talent, depth, and potential of the continent and its vast culture for people of the African Diaspora. It is a film and story I am so proud to have experienced and share with my family, and sure to bring it to my kids one day as well. I still remember getting all dressed up with my now husband just to go see it in theaters.

My fellow brothers and sisters of the African Diaspora. We are an amazing part this world, the global majority on this planet. Too many have tried to put out our lights on our excellence and potential. Why do you think that is? They know our greatness and fear to become a minority. We are not a minority and don’t need to live within the constraints they try to limit us to. Challenge them! Challenge the system! Dream a new dream for yourself. Become who you choose to be.

Thank you Chadwick Boseman.

Wakanda forever.

I’m an exhibiting artist and learning experience designer. Questioning everything and sharing of myself. AKA Stephanie Brown in those art streets.