2020 has reminded us that black folks aren’t safe. Trump has pushed a rhetoric that has risen an army of racists and destructive forces that find pleasure in trying to control anything that does not serve their purpose. A pandemic in Covid-19 has threatened to kill the world one person at a time. Murder Hornets, locust swarms, sandstorms crossing oceans, modified genetic food, molecularly altered mosquitoes, and rare fire tornadoes have ravaged the land. Racist killer cops have embraced targeting black bodies as if we are the villains. Yet, we stood. We did as a black community facing it all normally does. We leaned on each other, pressed forward and found a way to survive.
When everything went crazy, us Black folks, ran into Wakanda. We found joy there in giving each other cross armed X salutes and yelling across parking lots “Wakanda Forever.” For once we saw each other as we should: Royalty within a complex intelligent, sophisticated and technologically advanced independent society. We saw what we know that black folks are. On the big screen, we saw us as a society and safe. No slave intro beginnings and no oppression from other people that we claimed to be gods or that tried to become our gods. We were FREE and HAPPY. We were so proud and then we got to know our Black Panther. We got to know that he was more than just a comic hero. Then 2020…
… 2020 you took our hero. What kind of jacked up movie are you, “2020”? This is not how it is supposed to end. In the movies, the superhero eventually wins. They battle all of the obstacles and the super villains that we couldn’t defeat. The hero stands in the gap for us. You are the Black Panther get up one more time. We saw it in the movie with the purple and the tree and our ancestors.
Chadwick Boseman was a real-life superhero. How else can you describe working for the last 4 years with stage 3 cancer that progressed to stage 4? How else can you imagine clocking in and out through excruciating pain to deliver intelligent black stories on the biggest platforms. I have seen and felt chemo. I have felt the days where you can’t get up from the bed. I have felt the sting of vomit coursing through your body while you lay on the floor hugging a toilet that becomes your savior. I have heard the voices of doubt that remind you that you are dying but you kept on though. You never complained publicly. Most of us didn’t even realize that you were literally dying right in front of us. I wonder if you just knew deep down that it was black boys all across America that needed to see how you fight a monster called Cancer.
Mr. Boseman took Cancer with you and battled back to give us the strength of Jackie Robinson in (2013), the talented brilliance of James Brown in (2014), the courage of Thurgood Marshall in (2017) and the leadership of Stormin’ Norman in Da 5 Bloods. Each role he gathered superpowers to illustrate characters from our storyline that we had forgotten. Then finally we saw him- on the screen- The Black Panther.
You reminded us of the Black Panthers in California that started the breakfast program and defended our streets. He stood so tall as the Black Panther. We finally had our hero. We rejoiced and now 2020 you took him. In the middle of battling for the killers of Breonna Taylor to be arrested, police to be convicted for killing innocent black people, education reform to bring equity, social justice to bring safety and a time where being a Black American is close to becoming a walking death sentence: we mourn. You have taken our hero. How is that fair? Is there another scene after the end credits roll? We will sit together.
There are no more scenes. I have learned about the silence that lingers in the blackness. In the night of a Friday, we will bury you along so many other fallen heroes: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Fred Hampton, and Garvey. They say that fathers should not have to bury their sons. I can only imagine what Denzel Washington will say when he buries his Actor Guild son. You were the next in the lineage from Sidney Poitier to Denzel Washington and to you: Mr. Chadwick Boseman. You gave us #BlackBoyJoy and #BlackManMagnificence. You gave us a hero to be proud of. You gave us a moment for our community to forget about the harshness of America and were transported to a world that could be Great For Once. You have served well, Panther. Now rest, after all, it is and forever will be “Wakanda Forever.”