Chadwick Boseman: The Need for More Kindness on Social Media

Today, we wake up to the sad news of yet another black warrior passing – Chadwick Boseman. It hurts. It feels personal for many and rightly so.

Chadwick Boseman and Kobe Bryant

He died of Colon Cancer, a condition he never publicly discussed since he was diagnosed in 2016.

“He was a gentle soul and a brilliant artist, who will stay with us for eternity through his iconic performances over his short yet illustrious career,” said Denzel Washington via a statement.  Viola Davis writes – “No words to express my devastation of losing you. Your talent, your spirit, your heart, your authenticity…It was an honor working beside you, getting to know you”. Of course, many more heartfelt messages are being shared by those who knew him personally and those whom his works have inspired or served as some form of hope over the loneliness in a crowded world. And every word feels true and pure. It hurts so much to lose someone like him.

Just like many great blacks, Boseman faced his challenges. During his commencement speech at his alma mater (Howard University) in 2018, he told the graduates about his early days acting on soap operas. According to him, he was fired from a production (unnamed) after questioning what he felt was its stereotypical portrayal of black characters. For him, Black lives had always mattered. He walked the struggle, fought the struggle, lived the struggle, and conquered the struggle. I wish he stayed longer to be that man who would embody the fruit of his labour – portraying black characters rightly so with so much courage, poise, and grace.

2020 has robbed us of some of our real-life superheroes. While privately battling cancer, Chadwick Boseman went into strategic partnerships to raise over 4 million dollars to get protective equipment for Black communities hit hardest by COVID-19. His life was purposeful, and his purpose largely reflected in the kind of roles he took on.

 The biggest of his challenges, now public knowledge, was kept away from the public – Cancer, the deadly agent. Yet he showed up. He always did. As I sit back to reflect on life and what influence means, I remember some of the conversations I have had on and off air regarding successful people and celebrities and our expectations of them. Social media gives us a leveling power, which we often use to judge other people harshly or with bias based on our different standards or expectations. Recently, photos of Chadwick Boseman were on the internet, and many asked questions about how he looked. Many came from a place of concern, but amid that concern and genuineness came insensitivity. Think about how a person trying to cover his pain and biggest battle from the world would feel when you make him only realize that he can’t cover it anymore because he looks ‘sick’.

 Right now, I feel like I do not have the exact words to express my thoughts, pain, lessons, and inspiration. I know I am deep in my head, hoping the world would be different, that we would be better and kinder. It could be wishful thinking, but it doesn’t hurt to hope. I guess what I am trying to say is as simple as – Be kind when you tweet. Be fair when you comment. Love when you post. You never know what people go through. No matter how connected you feel to them and their work or the life they lead, you still don’t know it all. Let’s your words embody peace and love. Be kind. Nothing is really perfect…No one is. And a person’s blessing isn’t enough reason for you to expect the world from them. Let people live life on their own terms, as long as they are not out there deliberately hurting another human.

Nothing in this life is promised except death. May the gentle soul of Chadwick Boseman rest in power!

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