Long Live The King
As I mourn the life and legacy of a man who played roles that inspired many, I am reminded of the importance of loving people now before its too late.
A man who has played the roles of the likes of Thurgood Marshall, James Brown, Jackie Robinson, and King T'Challa has left us. This loss hurts. It was unexpected and during a time where black and brown people have been losing important figures that represented hope at a seemingly rapid rate. As I think about how to explain to my nephew, that the man that played his hero (our hero) is with his Ancestors, I reflect on the impact of Chadwick Boseman. He strategically played roles of giants, while displaying great character and strength in his own life, in spite of his Cancer. His roles mirrored how we ought to see ourselves. As strong, capable, and worthy people. Chadwick- the man- showed us how we should live: with grace, advocacy, and love.
This. Hurts... F*** Cancer.
For me, The Black Panther was not just a film, but an invitation into blackness. It was a collective movement that promoted a deeper understanding of the African diaspora and identity. People were connecting with one another, sharing their sense of pride and learning about the spectrum of blackness that is often overlooked and undervalued. Everyone, regardless of race, was able to see a black superhero that was not relegated to the role of side-kick and secondary prowess, but instead a King whose presence commanded the room.
Some themes resonated with me as I processed Chadwick's transition.
In a culture of trolls and bots, we encourage criticism, hurt, and pain. It should not be normal to be miserable. An act of kindness can make the difference in someone’s day, how they see themselves, and how they see others. It’s an act that will always pay itself forward. Some ways to display kindness may be simple or subtle. Interpersonal or personal:
Reach out to someone you have not spoken too as much as you had hoped
Start and end your day with a positive affirmation
Don't end the night on a bad note. Work to make amends with someone before the new day
Instead of pressuring yourself to receive forgiveness, work to be at peace with yourself. If the person you aim to make peace with declines, be content in the good work you have made to better yourself
Share an affirmation/compliment someone. Being encouraging to someone should not feel awkward. If it does, take some time to reflect on why you feel uncomfortable being good to someone. If you are unsure what being good to that person is, explore with them better ways to support and uplift them
Work on effective communication- Work on patience while listening to someone. Ask questions and share what you think you heard them say. Be open to responses as it may not be what you expect. Validate their voice and trust that your voice is just as important during the dialogue
Do something charitable - Being selfless is not just based on material donations but sharing time with others
Challenge yourself to speak good of and about others in private and in public
Be kind to yourself - Take time to find what makes you happy
It Is OK To Grieve
Whether you have lost someone close, been impacted by vicarious trauma, or mourn the loss of a role model/fictional character, it is ok to hurt. It is ok to hurt for people that mean something to you. Losing someone that represented hope, strength, and perseverance will feel defeating. Crying is ok to do. Venting is ok to do. Feeling whatever emotion you feel is ok. Grieving allows you to free up energy that is bounded to the loss while opening yourself up for healing. Holding on to too much pain is not honoring what was lost but rather creating or recreating negative emotional experiences that push you further away from peace. As you grieve, care for yourself in the same ways that you would care for others:
Be gentle with yourself - Take your time to process and reflect on the loss.
Be open to help and support when offered - You can be strong AND receive support from others.
Journal - Write down your feelings, thoughts, and also life lessons. You, yourself can be an effective teacher.
Seek help - Similar to being open for help; you can be strong AND seek support. Clarify your boundaries when communicating with someone so that the time given is for you to talk and for them to listen. We are sometimes reluctant in communicating with people because the talk may shift from the focus from us to them. Setting the tone for the conversation ahead to avoid feeling minimized.
If you are angry, it is ok. Find healthy alternatives to ease your anger such as a walk, exercise, or even slumping on your couch.
Find something that honors the loss- It can something you wear, something symbolic, or carrying yourself in a way that honors them.
As we mourn yet again in 2020, please take the time to be loving to those around you. You never know what someone is going through.
Giancarlo Simpson, LMHC
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