R.I.P. Chadwick Boseman: Afrofuturist Icon
Like everyone, I was shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Chadwick Boseman. My phone buzzed, as usual signalling a news alert. I gasped in dismay at the headline announcing Boseman's passing. I feel for his family and friends who miss him on a personal level. I honor those who fought alongside him as he suffered through illness with grace and strength. In person and on-screen, Chadwick Boseman truly embodies all that is good about Afrofuturism.
In watching the media coverage of Boseman's death, I learned about his deep strength of character. He shielded others from his suffering, and continued to focus on being kind and generous. No wonder his countenance literally glows with peace and confidence. There is a radiance which draws people in. A love which knows no bounds. A wisdom that inspires us to appreciate the good things in life.
As an actor, who better than Boseman to portray the iconic King T'Challa of Wakanda? His performance represented all that Afrofuturism symbolizes: the future of Blackness, protected from the ravages of the colonizer. Wakanda represents a nation and a people with unlimited economic, political, military, and technological power, ruled by a sovereign who seeks peace, unity, and enlightenment for the rest of the world. A true Black Utopian society. Furthermore, in an age where the rituals that signifiy manhood have been lost, the mythology of Wakanda allows us to admire a stylized vision of Black manhood, one that strives to shed much of the toxic Western masculinity embodied by Killmonger (alas, that is a topic for another post).
It seems tragically true that "the flame that burns twice as bright, burns half as long." And so it was with Chadwick Boseman. Fortunately for us, through the lasting images that Boseman brought to film in all of his iconic roles, we as human beings will have a light to guide us all for years and years to come.