On August 28, 2020, the world lost an African icon. Actor, playwright and director Chadwick Boseman passed away after a four-year battle with colon cancer, a condition that disproportionately affects African (black) people.
In his acting career, Boseman intentionally represented powerful, skilled African men who fought against white power not only for themselves, but for all African people. He portrayed historically significant African figures, such as Jackie Robinson, James Brown and Thurgood Marshall.
He is most remembered for his portrayal of African king and superhero T’Challa/BlackPanther. According to an interview with Rolling Stone, his research for the role included studying speeches by real life African hero Patrice Lumumba, the first democratically elected president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who fought for the total liberation of his people from white power colonialism.
The tweet, publicly announcing Boseman’s death, moved 4.3 million people around the world to express their grief and their love for him through liking the tweet, becoming the most liked tweet of all time.
Boseman fought for African people to define ourselves
Early in his screen career, white power executives fired Boseman from the soap opera All My Children for questioning their choice to present his character Reggie as an offensive stereotype of young African men in the U.S.
After firing Boseman, the executives implemented some of what Boseman had asked for his character, providing Boseman’s replacement, Michael B. Jordan, with a more fleshed out character to portray. Jordan would go on to play opposite Boseman as revolutionary antihero Killmonger in Black Panther.
Boseman and Jordan talked about the experience in The Wrap’s Oscar magazine, with Boseman saying, “They said ‘You are too much trouble!’ [but] I had to voice my opinions and put my stamp on it.”
Later in his career, Boseman turned down the role of an enslaved African. According to ShadowAndAct.com, Boseman’s agent Michael Greene stated that Boseman informed him “I do not want to perpetuate slavery.” Greene added:
“It was like, ‘We’re not going to keep perpetuating the stereotypes,’ and that’s why he wanted to show men of strength and character.”
Instead, Boseman took on roles where he delivered lines such as “See, I can’t never quit when it get hard,” from the 2014 film Get On Up and “If you want freedom, you’re going to have to fight for it,” from the 2017 film Marshall.
A 2018 article in Rolling Stone states:
“Chadwick Boseman was in a movie called Gods of Egypt. It was not a very good movie. But in addition to its not-goodness, it also became infamous for whitewashing – casting, as ancient African deities, a white guy from Scotland, a white guy from Denmark and at least seven white people from Australia. Boseman, the sole black lead, played Thoth, the Egyptian god of wisdom and inventor of mathematics. Before the movie came out, an interviewer asked him about the criticism, and Boseman said that not only did he agree with it, it was why he took the part – so audiences would see at least one god of African descent.”
On The Daily Show, Boseman and host Trevor Noah talked about the 2018 film Black Panther bridging the gap between African people in the U.S. and African people on the continent, and bringing the whole continent of Africa and all African people together. “People loved it in the motherland. Did that touch you?” asked Noah, to which Boseman responded:
“I can’t even put into words what that feels like because on both sides […] I’ve seen the divide [between African people on the continent and African people in the U.S.] all my life. […] There’s been this weird dynamic. […] This movie creates a story that we all share.”
Boseman fought to represent African people as fighters and defenders of our people and to unite our people as one proud nation.
White power killed Chadwick Boseman
“African Americans have the highest colorectal cancer incidence and mortality rates of all racial groups in the US. The reasons for this are not fully understood,” says the American Cancer Society.
If we look at the statistics, it is easy to understand.
The Washington Post conveys the numbers as of 2007 as:
“62 out of every 100,000 black men in the United States were diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer, the highest rate of colorectal cancer of any US group.”
The American Cancer Society also states that “From 2012 to 2016, incidence rates of colorectal cancer were about 20 percent higher among Blacks than for non-Hispanic whites. Death rates were nearly 40 percent higher.”
A June 8 article from the University of South Carolina, the state where Boseman was born and raised, states the myriad of health disparities between African people in the U.S. and the white community:
“Based on research, we haven’t seen a difference in genetic makeup in terms of African Americans being more susceptible to developing these conditions,” [Assistant Professor of epidemiology and biostatistics Dr. Monique J.] Brown says. “But while there may not be genetic factors, there are many social factors at play. Historically, African Americans have had less access to health care and lower incomes.”
In some cities, African Americans have often lived in densely populated areas with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables and safe places to walk. “So, there are some social structural issues that have been in place for decades that affect their health today,” she says. “The rates for many pre-existing conditions would be more even among races if there was more economic equality.””
Dr. Brown is clear: white power society inflicts these conditions onto African people through continually oppressing us for 600 years! The African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) lays out that we are a colonized people forcibly dispersed around the world and oppressed for the economic and social gain of our oppressor.
Boseman was an incredible African man who rose to fame and wealth but he was still colonized. His untimely death results from the colonial condition. We are still colonized. But we can get free!
Chairman Omali Yeshitela of the APSP says, “Africa is not poor! Africa is being looted!” By the same logic, African people are not “unhealthy.” African people’s health is being stolen from us!
Fight for the African Nation! Stay healthy!
The African People’s Socialist Party has the goal to unite and liberate all African people, the entire African Nation, from capitalist colonialism.
As stated in the first point of our fourteen point platform, “We want peace, dignity, and the right to build a prosperous life through our own labor and in our own interests.”
We want control over our own health and healthcare so there is not another Chadwick Boseman lost too soon. We want control of our own media and storytelling so there is never another Chadwick Boseman fired for wanting to correctly represent his people. We want to define our own narrative!
Our sister organization, the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project, has created a telehealth program for African people to speak with a health practitioner for free (developmentforafrica.org/telehealth). Our sister organization Black Power 96.3 FM Radio, supports African artists and creators who believe in empowering our people by providing a platform for their music and artistry.
The African People’s Socialist Party has created over 50 institutions to empower our people, including the Black Power Blueprint social and economic programs and the #BuyBlackPower campaign to support black businesses who contribute to our community.
We have the slogan, “One people! One Party! One destiny!” because that is the recipe to our victory and freedom. As another slogan says, “Black people united will never be defeated!”
Join the fight to achieve Black State Power in our lifetime! As Chairman Omali Yeshitela says, “We must organize!”
Become a member of the African People’s Socialist Party at apspuhuru.org
To make an appointment or to volunteer your skills with the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project (AAPDEP), go to developmentforafrica.org.