Posted in Activism, advocate, badassery, CANCER, death, Equality, movies, pop culture

Goodbye, King

When news came late Friday night that Chadwick Boseman, the actor who played King T’Challa in the Black Panther and Avenger movies, had died at age 43, the news hit me harder than I thought it would.

Boseman had been battling, unbeknownst to most, colon cancer for four years. This time had included the time he was working on the Black Panther movie. If you haven’t had cancer or a serious, debilitating illness, it’s difficult to appreciate what I consider to be a truly heroic effort to portray a hero. Each time cancer takes someone young or inspirational, I’m reminded I need to embrace more of the remaining life I’ve been given to live. This death cut me to the core. I’ve so much left to do.

I remember when the Black Panther movie came out and so many people of all races and lifestyles came out of the theaters crossing their arms in the “Wakanda forever!” sign. People of color walked out of that movie changed and inspired. Young black children finally had a Marvel superhero on screen that looked like them, that they could identify with. Someone strong, caring, extraordinary and human.

I was also inspired by the Black Panther. The strong women of Wakanda, who were in charge of the technology and protecting the King, made me cheer. These depictions of strong, intelligent women (of any color) shouldn’t be so few and far between, but they are. Shuri is the smartest in the room. Any room. Okoye and her crew could kick any man’s ass. Nakia is brave, and convinces the King that sharing their knowledge and wealth for the good of all is an important enough idea to allow it to stand between her and her relationship with the King.

Heroes don’t have to be the same color as you are to be inspirational, but I’m white and I have plenty to choose from if that is what I seek. It was about time that people of color had an extraordinary hero and a slew of capable, ass-kicking heroines. I can only hope another hero can rise on the shoulders of Chadwick Boseman.

What I hope people learn from Boseman’s short, but well-lived, life is that people can be heroes both on and offscreen and be an inspiration beyond what they intended or hoped for. Heroism and quality of character goes more than skin deep, and that is one of the legacies that Boseman left behind for all of us.

Rest in Power, King.

Posted in Activism, advocate

Black Lives Matter

Let me preface all this with – I’m white. Grew up in an all white community in an all white church. I do not pretend to know what it’s like to be judged just because our skin tones are different and I won’t pretend to.

It’s so difficult to peel away a lifetime of white privilege. You have to be deliberate about it to find your way to a new perspective, to try and see a life from a different point of view.

People who haven’t peeled back their white privilege say things like, “but all lives matter,” or “but I’m not racist.” Like I said, it’s a difficult process.

Responding with “All Lives Matter,” when someone (especially if they are black) says “Black Lives Matter,” tells them you don’t think black people are hurting or persecuted. It invalidates them and their pain and struggle.

I know most people mean it out of love for all lives. But all lives aren’t being persecuted right now. All lives aren’t equal in the eyes of America, and unfortunately, the law.

Honor the struggle of our black brothers and sisters and say it out loud, “BLACK LIVES MATTER!” When you say that, you say to a black person that you care about them and their struggle. You would be shocked at how far that goes. When you are hurting and angry, don’t you wish someone would tell you that you matter?

Of course some say “All Lives Matter” defensively, as if Black Lives Matter means white ones don’t. I don’t have time for you right now.

When a person says, “Black Lives Matter,” they are saying that a black life matters JUST AS MUCH as anyone else’s. In this case, save the “All Lives” when all lives really do matter equally.