Chadwick Boseman's Death
I told myself I was going to do an actual blog post this weekend. I have some files I'd worked on for a while, adding and editing now and then with thoughts on comics, figured I would just start with one of those. Then last night, I was stretched out reading comics that had piled up on my nightstand and I reached for another one before it got too late and my phone lit up with a notification announcing Boseman's death. Knee jerk reaction was to put the comic back in the bag, put it back on the to-read stack and turn off the light. First thoughts were that he was my age, 43. It's selfish, but my first concern was "holy crap, cancer hits everyone, even people my age, and this guy lived a healthier, more active life than me ..." Do I get a check-up, do I improve my life insurance ... you know, the things you worry about when you suddenly feel old and want to make sure things are taken care of, right?
Then I started thinking about my kids. Not the little ones I have that are like "mine" right, but the kids I teach. Boseman's Black Panther was iconic, regardless of if you were a comic or Black Panther fan before the movie, but for a lot of the kids I teach (and I'm not just talking about my black students) he was their superhero. And for my black students? He was them onscreen. People say "representation matters" is an overstatement, and if that's the case, you've never seen a young black man get excited to show you a drawing they did of Black Panther, or tell you how many times they saw it in theaters, or the Wakanda Forever shirt they picked up over the weekend.
I'm hit harder by this celebrity death not because of his connections to an amazing job putting a superhero I like on the screen, or that he poured everything he could into his last years being a role model and icon for young black people, or even that he somehow hid that he was sick with cancer for four years while filming stunts and putting himself out there ... I am sick to my stomach thinking of how this will affect the young people I see on my screens at school, and the kids that attached themselves to this brilliant actor who lit up his performance as not just a hero but a king, and I worry who is there to tell them it'll be ok, and that there are other heroes, and they can be one, too.