This week has been exhausting. First the shooting of Jacob Black. Then the riots in Kenosha. Followed by the murder of protesters at the hands of a 17 year old boy and the handling of his case with the Kenosha PD. Add all of that up with the continued fight against the crowd that is doing their best to drown out the voices of the many that are tired of having their voices silenced and are crying out with a mighty roar, screaming: No! More! The air has been heavy this week. It feels more claustrophobic. I’ve felt the muscles in my wrists up to my shoulders, into my neck, constrict and contort in painful ways. The crowd that is fighting so hard against our voices cannot comprehend the growing trauma that this fight invokes. After the Kyle Rittenhouse murdered those two men, hundreds of thousands of eyes watched as that boy, armed with an AR-15 strapped to his back, walked right by as the police ignored him. The eyes of black and brown people, along with allies that protest along side us watched in horror and we realized that if he got away with it, that it would be a clear message that it was open season on all of us. That they would be free from consequence.
It’s a terrifying thought.
Though he was arrested a state over, the time in between the murders and his capture felt like ages. And this intense trauma has seeped into the muscles and joints of anyone that has been paying attention to the events that have led us to this point.
It’s a Friday night. I’m sitting here completing a project for work and I get a notification on my phone. “Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman dead at 43 from complications with Colon Cancer.” …What? What did I just read? This is a 4chan prank or a twitter hashtag that I’ll click and see the gif of Denzel Washington grasping his chest in relief. But no. It’s true. It guts me. Why is my body reacting to this as if I’m reading of the passing of a close friend or family member?
Chadwick Boseman, in his growing career, has played some of the most iconic Black icons and characters; from James Brown and Jackie Robinson to Thurgood Marshall and King T’Challa from Black Panther. To the general audience, his most memorable role will be that of Black Panther. Honestly, I feel that for a long time, that will be the roll that I appreciate the most given our current issues in this country. When This movie came out, I took my daughter to see it and I literally cried several times throughout the showing. This movie gave the black community something to rally around. We had been watching the Marvel Universe develop over time and we were interested. Then they revealed the intentions of making Black Panther and they had our attention. When this movie debuted, in what felt like overnight, the black community had a new way of greeting each other, crossing our arms and pounding our chests in unison, proclaiming “WAKANDA FOREVER”. We rallied around a fictional African country that we all suddenly hailed from. The unity and connection we felt for a time after Black Panther debuted was honestly one of the most celebratory feelings I’ve ever felt.
That unity is what we are protesting for.
Watching Chadwick’s portrayal of this iconic character, seeing the action figures and costumes taking over the stores was a badge of honor. Seeing not just our community but every other community fall in love with this character actually felt like WE were finally being embraced. Chadwick was the face of a subtle yet powerful movement. And with his passing, it was a massive blow to a lot in the Black Community. Our hero has fallen. Yes we have several other heroes in fiction, but this… he was our guy! Sampling the trending posts based on his death, the air is thick among fans and non fans alike. Seeing someone so young that portrayed several people that are interwoven into black culture and history pass away has dropped a heavy weight in the community.
Yes he was just a man. An Actor. But what he represented has made this loss feel like another weight added to the current load that we are carrying right now. His death was sudden for us but he was fighting this for 4 years. Two years into his fight with Colon Cancer he was promoting Black Panther. During the promotional tour, he recounted spending time corresponding with children with terminal cancer and how they were hoping to live long enough to catch the movie. I had seen this before but knowing now that he himself was fighting cancer at the time of telling these stories hits so much harder now.
Chadwick Boseman getting emotional about trading letters with kids with terminal cancer who passed before they got to see Black Panther…knowing he was himself battling cancer when he said this.#WakandaForever 🖤🕊️ pic.twitter.com/QrLLdnIKqV
— #WakandaForever Chadwick Boseman 🕊️🖤 (@GalaHlulani) August 29, 2020
He passed away with his family surrounding him. I hope he rests in peace and power.
This week has been exhausting.