Wakanda Forever

Death of actor Chadwick Boseman packs emotional punch

Wakanda Forever

Aisha Al-Refai, Editor-in-Chief

Immediately following the news of Chadwick Boseman’s death on August 28, 2020, I was asked, how can you miss someone you’ve never met? It’s pretty simple really if you grew up reading and watching the Marvel franchise, like I did.

Through the emotional impact of the characters they play onscreen, to when those characters help you through your worst moments. When the loneliness buried deep in your soul is eating you alive and you can’t breathe, the stories of characters overcoming their personal struggles are the only thing that can make you feel something again. Chadwick Boseman did exactly that for me.

Now, I’ll never be a black kid living in America, so I will never truly feel the impact of seeing someone so powerful represent the king of Wakanda, portray a baseball legend, and countless other non-stereotypical black characters who broke boundaries. But I have grown up being powerfully impacted by Boseman’s work and am so incredibly grateful I did. 

Boseman was introduced to me at the young age of 11 during a compelling movie about Jackie Robinson. 42 was a groundbreaking movie about Robinson’s legendary baseball career that provided its audience with the gritty reality of what it was like to be a professional baseball player in an extremely racist time. Boseman’s speciality was his ability to move every person in the audience with any character he portrayed on screen. He could effortlessly become a vessel to tell other people’s impactful stories.

Woefully, Boseman’s own incredible story was very private, leaving it untold until it was over. This man bravely fought cancer that was ravaging his body, and no one knew. He starred in ten feature films following his diagnosis, and never said a single word publicly about how much he was suffering. Cancer treatments, countless surgeries, four Marvel movies, four film awards, and starring in the highest- grossing movie of all time without a single excuse.

   Watching a movie like Black Panther is a religious experience for me. It’s not like other Marvel movies, it’s more personal in the fact it’s told as a traditional African story from a father to his child. Not only is it the first non-westernized Marvel movie, but it also deeply dives into racial injustice black people face today.

Even in a fictional universe, the protagonist, T’Challa, uses his wealth to create an outreach center for black kids in current-day California. Through this, Boseman truly brought the role of T’Challa to life with his realistic portrayal of the young king. Afraid to live up to his father’s legacy after his death, having to rule an entire country while being so young and grief-ridden, all while trying to abide by personal morals when he was in the process of losing himself. Having this new responsibility and then having it ripped away, losing his pride and feeling failure wholeheartedly for the first time, all while being afraid to protect the few loved ones he had left. Boseman gave everyone a character that they could empathize with, all while inspiring them to overcome their struggles and give back, just as T’Challa did.

After Black Panther came out, suddenly real African stories became a trend in the cinema. Boseman was an icon everywhere, constantly being asked to do the infamous “Wakanda forever” pose in almost every photo shoot. Boseman became the face of celebrity black lives related philanthropy,  all while being a new hope to push the importance of Black Lives Matter. He never ceased to use his platform to speak out for political justice, bettering the lives of kids, and being a positive role model for everyone to look up to. 

There’s a reason Boseman’s death announcement is the most liked tweet of all time (7.7 Million likes at the time of writing). He had the ability to touch every soul he came in contact with, and his memory will live on forever.

 “The struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.”- Chadwick Boseman