It was not coronavirus, it was not the police. It was cancer, that most apolitical tragedy — awakening no rage, activating no power. That’s been the American experience in 2020, and so his death stands alone as an unanswerable injustice.
Chadwick Boseman is the face of a cinema project unprecedented in the U.S. — film as ambassador, blockbuster as revisionist history and postcolonial text. Black Panther aestheticized, narrativized a culture(s) so usually thieved and maliciously distorted. It is exactly the kind of work I aspire to here, bringing the stories of foreign people to new eyes, and it stands as an example of the educational, the connective power of film. Boseman is charged with being that project’s beating heart.
He was too young, too talented, too beloved. I know how much this affected me, which surprised me — when I witnessed him on screen I didn’t see myself, and the ambassadorship he represented wasn’t my heritage. My heart goes out to those who did see themselves, whose heritage he indeed shook the screen with, announcing its arrival with art and force. It’s a deep, stinging loss.