The night I heard about Chadwick’s passing I legit felt like I had been punched in the stomach. My initial thought when my husband read the news out loud was that it was fake. There was NO WAY Chadwick Boseman was gone from this life. It felt like a blindside wrapped up in a language I couldn’t understand. If I’m being completely honest, I still can’t believe Chadwick is gone. It doesn’t sound right to say or read of him in pass tense. The man who seemed like a real life superhero is gone. As Ryan Coogler stated “Chad is an ancestor” now. Damn, man.
I titled this blog post “young, gifted, and Black(Panther)” because it’s a combination of one of my favorite Chadwick speeches, and his most iconic fictional character. His speech about being “young, Black, and gifted” resonates with my soul to this day. Especially as a Black creative who knows the extent of my dreams and the unfair practices and biased in the creative world to achieve them.
However, before I say anymore let me say: this is NOT a think piece. I don’t care to guess or speculate about Chadwick’s 4 year battle with cancer. The truth of the matter is if he wanted us to know details of his private life or battle with cancer, he would’ve shared. I’m also not here to write a motivational piece about what you should be doing with your life and your time because of his death. In my opinion, it goes against the very celebration of Chadwick’s constant message of purpose. His purpose wasn’t yours, and yours isn’t mine. So what good does shaming someone into doing “more” accomplish if they’re exactly where they’re supposed to be in this moment?
I’d be lying if I said Chadwick’s death hasn’t hit me hard. I shed tears multiple times seeing his pictures, reading the personal stories, and watching the tributes. I’m not embarrassed to have shed tears for someone I don’t personally know either. I fell in love with him back in 2013 and could see the Black excellence oozing out of him in the role for “42”. For years I’ve been saying “Chadwick is a Black man, Black man.” Or in other words, a Black man that loves his Blackness and unapologetically celebrates being Black out loud. His death feels so unfair. So…unfinished. Chadwick Boseman became a household name and was already a star. But can we even begin to imagine how much more he had left to give us through art? I know we’re not supposed to question God’s plans, or understand everything, but some things don’t and never will make sense. Chadwick Boseman’s death is one of them.
The last time my heart felt this heavy was January 26th, 2020. Truth be told, I still can’t hear or see Kobe and/or Gigi’s names without an uneasy feeling deep in my stomach. Kobe’s death truly felt like it knocked the world off balance. And unfortunately, I was correct in that assessment because 2020 has been unstoppable. Almost 7 months on the dot I find myself in the same state of sadness and unfairness about Chadwick.
I’ve never been a fan of the celebrity obsession in this country but Chadwick was different. Chadwick felt like family. Chadwick feels like that older cousin we grew up with who gained success as we all cheered for him from afar. His constant and insistent portrayals of Black legends created a connection that was immeasurable to the Black community. Somehow he still managed to outdo himself in the role of King T’Challa in Disney’s Black Panther. Seeing this proud dark skinned Black man be a King protected by an army of beautiful dark skinned Black women is an image I’m never going to forget. From the details in the costumes to breaking the barrier of a majority Black casted movie not just being a “Black movie” but a box office record setter.
As sad as my heart is, it brings me great joy that Chadwick was given his roses and more while he was here. You couldn’t and still can’t go anywhere without seeing the impact of Black Panther and Black culture in everyday life. Little Black boys all over were able to see themselves in the face and poise of Black Panther. Little Black girls saw themselves as warriors who have the power to protect an entire country. There is no where Chadwick could go without the constant love he poured on screen reciprocated back to him. From smiles, to tears, to Wakanda Forever symbols, Chadwick Boseman’s impact will be felt for generations to come.
I hope Chadwick’s family and closest friends feel all of this heartbreaking love from all over the world. I pray they know how much his life impacted the world while he was here and how much he will continue to impact the world now that he’s gone.
We may not understand God’s plan at times like these, but then we remember it’s the same God who blessed us with Chadwick Boseman’s presence for the last 43 years. What a purpose lead and purpose filled 43 years it was.
“Sometimes you need to feel the pain and sting of defeat to activate the real passion and purpose that God predestined inside of you. God says in Jeremiah I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.”Chadwick Boseman – Howard University Commencement Speech
Rest In Peace, Chadwick. Thank you for the lifetime of art.