It was a Friday night, filled with laughter, good wine, great company—just a sincerely wonderful time. As the evening was winding down, news came through that Chadwick Boseman had passed away. 43. How? How was he gone at 43? King T’Challa. Our superhero. Our hope. Our limitless possibility. Our representation of black excellence. Then I find out that he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016. He battled for 4 years and during this time, he made magic onscreen. His family revealed in a statement, that while he worked on multiple films and continued to bless us with his gift taking on challenging, iconic roles— he did it all in between surgeries and chemotherapy. Marshall, Black Panther, Da 5 Bloods, 21 Bridges. The list goes on.
With everything going on in the world right now. With the chaos happening in the U.S. right now. When a loss like this happens, time stands still. The loss hits your heart different. We pause and understand the magnitude and greatness of another’s presence on this earth. It forces us to look at the layers in this moment. I find inspiration in the way Boseman lived his life until the very end. He chose the terms in which he would live out his days. No, he didn’t choose his circumstance, but he did choose the way in which he would respond. He kept his situation private and he lived. He created. He supported. He met his moment with grace and determination, as an outsider looking in, that is what I see. I see a man who drew upon his faith, guidance, love and inspired us all:
“Purpose is the essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill.” -Chadwick Boseman
As I scrolled my timeline, reading the tributes and thoughts on Boseman’s passing, one resonated in my spirit and I stopped. Actor Jesse Williams wrote, “live your legacy now. live forever.” Such strength and intentionality in Chadwick’s decision to fulfill his purpose and live his legacy while dealing with an illness. When I woke up the next morning, I listened to his powerful 2018 Howard University Commencement speech. There were so many gems of wisdom packed in a little over 30 minutes. In his speech, he spoke about how the empowerment that we are taught to live in as Black people, the principles and standards that we are instilled with, can be the same things that close doors once we go out into the world and question when we see inadequacy. When we look to challenge the status quo, we can be seen as difficult instead of confident and qualified. We must never stop questioning or standing firm in our truth. As his speech wrapped up, he said, “God will move someone that’s holding you back, away from a door and put someone there who will open it for you. If it’s meant for you.”
Chadwick embodied the stories of some our greatest cultural icons. He truly was a superhero onscreen and in life. We are grieving in so many ways right now. We are fighting a battle for justice and democracy. We are losing people who are some of the best of us. To name a few, Nipsey Hussle, Kobe Bryant, Breonna Taylor, Rep. John Lewis, now Chadwick Boseman. Countless names. Both public and personal. In ways seen and unseen. Lights in this world. Destined paths. They loved us. And we will love them forever.
“The highest human act is to inspire.” – Nipsey Hussle
The Black community needs a group hug. A collective embrace. We are all feeling loss echo in our hearts, as we are all connected by our shared experience living in our beautiful brown skin every day. But in all of the pain and trauma that we sit with, we must never forget our magic. Our beauty. Our humanity. Our purpose.
In the words of Chadwick, “Sometimes you need to feel the pain and sting of defeat to activate the real passion and purpose that God predestined inside of you.”
We have felt the pain and sting for far too long. Are you activated now? Are you activated for yourself? Are you activated for your family? Are you activated for your community? Are you activated for us?
Are you living your legacy now?
I love you. I love us.
Rest peacefully in power, beautiful soul. Wakanda Forever.
Tiffany Reneé is a writer, poet and activist based in New York. She is a free spirit who loves to truly connect with others. She believes that life gives us opportunities to learn and grow daily if we are open to see the beauty in the expansion. Family time, deep conversation, wine, cooking, music, laughter and travel are a few of her favorite things. She’s a soulful dreamer from the Midwest who has always been drawn to the city lights and the possibilities that exist in choosing “more” of what allows you to live a life that you love.