Let’s be clear. I am not going to pretend that I was one of Chadwick Boseman’s biggest fans, because I haven’t watched most of his movies nor do I know much about his personal life.
Like most of his fans, I also associate Chadwick with Black Panther, someone who is strong and immensely powerful.
Today, after the news of his demise broke, everyone started talking about how he poured himself into the Marvel movies he did in the last 4 years while fighting the demon. Because it was today that we got to know he was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016.
August 29, 2020
But if we look back, we’ll find that we as a society haven’t been kind and considerate enough.
Earlier in April this year, when Chadwick took to Instagram to interact with his fans to promote an initiative aimed at helping people of colour amid the pandemic, he looked slimmer than usual.
View this post on Instagram
I am hearing stories of desperation from people all over the country, and we know our communities are suffering the most and urgently need help. Celebrating #JackieRobinsonDay with the launch of Thomas Tull’s #Operation42, a donation of 4.2 million dollars in personal protective equipment (PPE) to hospitals that service the African American Communities who have been hit the hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic. Thank you, Jackie, for refusing to accept the world as it is, for showing us that we can make a difference.
His slimmer frame instantly drew people’s attention and there were all kinds of media reports regarding his physique.
Agreed that fans did all this out of concern. But while commenting and speculating about all sorts of things, we did not realise that we crossed the boundary.
The boundary between personal and professional life.
The boundary between being kind and being intrusive.
The boundary between live and let live.
It’s not lost on me the way the internet bullied Chadwick Boseman the last two years about his appearance, him looking tired, etc to the point where he began deleting photos while he was fighting for his life. You truly never know what people are going through. BE KIND.— key. (@keywilliamss) August 29, 2020
And we did not do it just once. Back in 2018, when Black Panther’s popular gesture, ‘Wakanda Forever’ was everywhere, a photo of Chadwick looking tired while doing the signature gesture during a press conference went viral.
We made a meme out of it.
I keep thinking of the meme image where he’s doing the wakanda salute on a red carpet but looks like he’s exhausted and there were whole thinkpieces about how he was annoyed by his fans— Jenny Nicholson (@JennyENicholson) August 29, 2020
While we thought he was tired, or angry and maybe disinterested in talking to the media, he had other issues to deal with.
I was thinking about this the other day, remembering an infamous interview where the celeb was described as being gloomy & miserable & disappointing… later I realised, that’s exactly when his kid got terminally ill. https://t.co/IWhm2a4dLm— Jess McGuire (@jessmcguire) August 29, 2020
Alive or not, we dig into everyone’s life and try to impose our expectations on them. Case in point: Sushant Singh Rajput’s untimely demise that has turned into a media circus.
From personal chats to medical prescriptions, everything is out there on social media.
Is this the fuckin way to be a journalist #aajtak , #ShushantSinghRajput Parents might be in different trauma and you guys putting the mic in front of their face.. Shame on these jornalism , trp k liye kch v😶🙃 pic.twitter.com/6U2hl89efU— Abhijeet kr ravi (@Abhijee22691599) June 14, 2020
For once, only for once, can we stop speculating? Because we DO NOT know what a person is going through.
Can we be kind to those are who not among us and kinder to those around? Because again we do not know anything about their life’s battles.
please just be kind. stop putting celebrities on pedestals when the reality is they are human beings like every single one of us going through their own silent battles and jumping over countless hurdles.— 𝔪𝔬𝔱𝔥𝔢𝔯 𝔬𝔣 𝔣𝔬𝔵𝔢𝔰, ♡ (@memoiremyths) August 29, 2020
A celebrity or not, everyone deserves respect and privacy.
Everyone we meet is fighting a battle, mental or physical and we will never know what they feel. We do not need to.
Actually, someone doesn’t need to be going through something for us to not be humane.
Ugh this… I get a bit snippy when people constantly comment about how exhausted I look like I can help it. I can only imagine how that must have felt for him. 💔 https://t.co/ienISS1fzc— 👽Ⓐ Anarcoleptic Ⓐ👽 (@RebelScumHan) August 29, 2020
Let’s choose empathy. Now more than ever.
Let’s be mindful of our actions on the internet.
Because kindness costs nothing at all. It only gives.