Remember my post about Kamala Harris? How imagery can fuel the imagination? How Barack Obama fueled my imagination because for the first time ever, I saw a man with my skin complexion in the Oval Office and thought, “Now black and brown children can aspire to be POTUS and actually SEE that it can be a reality for them.” The same was for Harris, being a father of an 11-year-old daughter and telling her that she can become anything she wants to ... and showing her a real-life example.
Politics aside, the imagery was important. For many of our children, the only things they aspire to be are usually professional athletes and rappers (primarily because those images are the most viewed in terms of success across the airwaves.) As parents we do all we can to show them that life is more than athletic ability and entertainment, that because they are so gifted... they can do anything. However, imagery is important. It’s needed.
Enter Chadwick Boseman. A stellar actor. And many have been asking, “Why are they so hurt and sad, he’s just a celebrity.” To many, he was “just a celebrity”. But for some of us, he was an icon. One that showed that Hollywood can cast us beyond the normal thugs and drug addicts. He taught Hollywood that there are stories from our history that need to be taught in film (James Brown, Marshall and Jackie Robinson). But most importantly, his most notable role as King T’Challa in Black Panther helped with the aforementioned imagery.
For the first time, our children had a superhero that looked like them. Some of you know the early struggles we had with our daughter and Barbies growing up. When she first began to play with them, she never wanted to play with the black Barbie ... it almost seemed foreign. We knew we had to teach her early on how beautiful her skin was, and how proud she should be. Now at 11? She’s fully confident in who she is and her skin. I believe every child should love God, love others, and themselves.
But back to Chadwick...the week Black Panther premiered; it was beautiful. Folks showing up to theaters in African garb, paying homage to African Culture and celebrating. Yes, it was fictional, but it was amazing. And I saw little boys and girls who had a superhero that looked like them, screaming, “I want to be the Black Panther (or Shuri, and even Okoye)!” I’ll admit, I wanted to be Black Panther, actually said I was for at least 2 months. I saw people begin to dig into our history, behind slavery and really see the beauty, the struggle, and the royalty that exists. I saw love. I saw promise. I saw pride.
In order to ensure our children, have a better world than the one we are in now, we have to show them with tangible examples that they can achieve. Even if it’s a fictional character in a Marvel movie.... imagery can fuel the imagination.
Reading of his passing was tough ordeal. Our daughter had tears in her eyes.... Who am I kidding, I shed a tear. But the sadness wasn’t “idol worship”. It was an appreciation of his work and lament over the void that is lost because honestly, I don’t know if there is another actor of his caliber on the horizon.
Some will read this and think it’s about something that it’s not. I say this because cynical people love to find their way to my posts, especially if I mention “black” anything. Two words: shut and up.
This is about celebrating a win for our culture and remembering a man who helped us do so. In spite of cancer... he pressed through and did it for us. We didn’t lose an actor; we lost an icon.