So... 2020 uh? I think it's safe to say this has been one hell of a year in all the wrong ways. Global Pandemic, thousands of deaths, racism, division, Donald Trump, Kobe's death and now... the king is dead. I've been sitting here since last night trying to find the words to express my hurt over Chadwick Boseman's death but even though this hurts me, and trust me it does; I can't even imagine what it must feel for Black fans around the World.
How do you, as a parent; tell your kid that Black Panther is dead. I don't even know how to tell my boys and we're not even Black! My middle child's favorite superheroes are The Flash and Black Panther, freaks out every time he sees him on screen or on a poster or wherever; he just loves Black Panther. With that said, he doesn't look like T'Challa, he has countless others superheroes he can look at and they'll look like him; for Black kids the number of leading superheroes is quite slim. Even though they may have War Machine or Falcon, we know they're not on Captain America, Iron Man or Thor's level of popularity and mass acclaim; but Black Panther definitely was!
Bringing T'Challa to life in a way that was respectful to Jack Kirby's vision for the character and also represented Black people and stood on par with his Marvel counterparts was a monumental task and Chadwick absolutely rose to the occasion, but not only that; he made the entire World believe him to be King T'Challa! He felt regal, he conducted himself with grace and humility even though we all saw him as the king of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Other actors saw him as such, it didn't seem forced or fake and as cliché as this may sound; he was born to play T'Challa. Black Panther was more than a movie, it became a cultural phenomenon like something I've never seen before; it was truly beautiful to experience. Seeing kids, of all races; embrace the character the way they have... it's truly a magical thing. But most importantly, Black kids now had a bonafide superhero to look up to, someone that would inspire them in the way Captain America inspire White kids or Wonder Woman inspire little girls; they could see a superhero on the big screen that looked like them and wasn't a typical Black stereotype. But the king is dead.
Now we must go through the process of mourning, grieving and eventually pick ourselves up. It won't be easy, this isn't just a random actor or a second tier hero... this is Chadwick Boseman bringing the Black Panther to life and he cannot be replaced. Marvel will eventually move on to another actor to take on the mantle of the Black Panther, more than likely they'll have Shuri be the heir of the Black Panther mantle; but T'Challa is simply irreplaceable. That statement cannot be understated, Chadwick Boseman's performance as T'Challa will never be topped; period.
To the parents that may be reading this I ask one favor from you, when your kids find out (and they will) about Black Panther's passing, please explain to them his importance to the World. If they're NOT Black, please explain to them that their Black friends might be going through a hard time at the moment because losing Black Panther is more than just losing a superhero; they're losing THEIR superhero! Tell them to be kind to their friends, especially now. If your kids ARE Black, please let them grieve, let them cry, let them be angry, let them yell and express themselves as if they've lost a family member because in some strange way; the loss of Black Panther will be just as big in their lives as losing a close relative. I know we teach our boys to be strong and not cry over silly things but I beg of you, let them cry over this if they feel like it, even if you feel it's a silly thing; it is not!
This is a monumental loss for a lot of people, actors, creators, fans, family and friends. We'll always remember where we were on August 28th, 2020 as we found out that Chadwick Boseman had passed away after losing his battle with Cancer. This pain, this anger, this sorrow will remain forever. So young and so talented. Life is cruel and unfair sometimes, but we must persevere; let's honor him and be a light in this World that seems to be drowning in darkness. The king is dead. Long Live The King! WAKANDA FOREVER!!!