RIP Chadwick Boseman: On Mourning Black Royalty and Collective Black Grief

I am crying as I write this. Not sobbing, but the slow, searing flow of tears that burn as they fall. I don’t have the strength to sob, and honestly, the burn is helping. It means that I can still feel something. This is not about me, though. This is about Chadwick Boseman. This is about the collective Black joy that he brought to us. This is about collective Black grief we all are experiencing right now.

Chadwick Boseman played James Brown, Thurgood Marshall, T’Challa (The Black Panther), and so many more. 

He brought us Black king, after Black king, after Black king. Chadwick Boseman was–no, is–a Black king now ascended to the ancestral plane. 

Chadwick Boseman played King T’Challa a.k.a. Black Panther alongside Lupita Nyong’o (left) and Danai Gurira (right) in the Marvel Comics film ‘Black Panther’.

The famed Mr. Boseman was from right here, in the US. (No shade to our non-native Black stars, but this matters to us like James Bond being British matters to them.) 

He was born and raised in Anderson, South Carolina. He went to Howard University, keeping his talent and his college money in the Black community. And then, he spent his tragically short years giving us Black excellence on and off-screen again, and again, and again.

We Blerds know that Chadwick was not really T’Challa. T’Challa was a role, an act, but it was one he embodied. He and the Black Panther team brought us together–Blerd and non-Blerd alike–to celebrate our oneness, our connection to Africa, our ability to be royal, classy, cool, and nerdy. He stepped into that world, into Wakanda, and brought all of Black America with him. Those of us who grew up on Black Panther comics got to see our wildest dreams imagined. Those who had never known it before got the chance to dream beautiful afro-futuristic dreams like they had never conceived. 

Boseman helped bring Wakanda to life while fighting through a debilitating illness. He did it to give us the joy and connectedness we needed. Can you imagine living through this time as a Black American without his cinematic contributions of joyous moments of togetherness and reprieve? The Black Panther gave us a global black community, all wishing for Wakanda, all throwing our arms over our chest saying “Wakanda Forever”! Black folx of all walks of life showed up at theaters in full African regalia and Black Panther cosplay. He was a part of that. Chadwick Boseman, whether he meant to be or not, is an integral part of Black history, and our freedom fight. As much as Sam Cooke, and “A Change is Gonna Come” is ingrained as a part of the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement. 

I will say it again. Chadwick Boseman is a Black King. We at Blerd Galaxy see him off to the ancestors with heavy hearts and lifted spirits knowing that he’s done his work here. His art will live on. They say that the great ones die young. Chadwick Boseman was great. Cancer stole him from us, but not before he could leave an everlasting impact on the world, on his world, on his people. Thank you, Mr. Boseman. 

Editor’s Note: Chadwick Boseman died August 28, 2020, after a four-year battle with colon cancer, at age 43. He is beloved by Blerds everywhere for the films mentioned here and so many others. Boseman will be missed. 

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