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Don’t Weaponize Chadwick Boseman’s Death to Shame People

I want us to be careful about how we are using Chadwick Boseman’s death as life lessons. One of the things that I saw was somebody saying “Whenever you want to come up with an excuse, think about Chadwick Boseman” and that didn’t sit right with my spirit.

I get what we’re trying to say. But I want us to be careful about using that man’s story and weaponizing it to make others feel bad for not working through pain, terminal illnesses, disabilities, or even just a bad day.

I want us to not use his death as a way to shame people who decide to choose rest over pushing through. Chadwick’s strength and resolve are admirable. But that’s not everybody’s story and journey. That’s not everybody’s capacity. Whatever superhuman strength he found to do five action movies as he’s dealing with cancer should not be anybody else’s expectation. It should not be anybody else’s story, unless the person needs it to be their story.

Source: Everett Collection

Let us not use Chadwick’s death and what feels like such an early passing as a way to make other people feel bad about not being able to show up in whatever way we expect them to. Everybody ain’t meant to push through pain. Some people can’t get out of bed right now because they’re doing chemotherapy. Some people can’t get out of bed because they have a silent chronic illness that makes it really hard. Some people are going to call into work and say, “I can’t make it today simply because I don’t have the mental capacity to get out of bed.” Their lives and their journey and their pain is still valid.

Let us not now use this whole grind, grind, grind mentality, and let us not use Chadwick’s story to tell other people that their pain is not valid or their pain is not enough where their choice to sit at home and rest is not valid. Like I need us to not also shame ourselves. Like it ain’t even just about shaming other people. Let us not shame ourselves when we are not able to get something done or follow through on something because of whatever pain that we’re going through. We’re not all meant to be superheroes. None of us should put this thing on ourselves.

It is, it just worries me that now the whole thing is going to be like, “Do you have the Chadwick strength to make it?” Maybe you don’t that day and that’s fine.

So I just want us to be gentle with ourselves, each other and the lessons that we pull from somebody else’s life can be lessons for ourselves personally. They might not be the same lesson for everybody. But also I want us to not be ableist in the process and be like, “You can do it, look at Chadwick!”

Bruh. We don’t know that man’s story. We just know that he passed. We don’t know all the days that he pushed himself through that he even realized he wasn’t supposed to. We don’t know and can’t pull all these things like, “Well, if he could have done it, you should have to.”

We don’t know his real journey. And we are not entitled to know, right? It’s not for us to know. But also we should not use his journey as a way to make others feel bad about themselves, to make ourselves feel bad about themselves.

Everybody’s journey is different. So that’s what I wanted to say.

 

This post is a transcript of my rant on IGTV, below.

Here are some of my favorite comments from Luvvnation: 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾
iamreluctantlysocial Perhaps if my mother, who passed in October 2019, would have sat down and realized just how sick she was and gotten help sooner, she would still be here today. And as a person with chronic pain, I cannot always DO and GO. So everyone can miss me with all the ‘Chadwick strength’ guilt trip crap. Like Luvvie said, we don’t know his story. We were blessed that he did all he did when he could. But if him sitting down and resting would have prolonged his life, I would have taken that over those movies any day. 💜
thecommunicationstrategist Grind culture is oppressive. God blesses the nap. People of color…get 👏🏾 some 👏🏾 rest 👏🏾. We die sooner. We ail so much all in the name of I’ll sleep when I die 😩
wow_kehau I’m a cancer and brain tumor survivor. Everyone’s journey is so different and their healing is different if your body is able to push through. My body was destroyed by all the medicine and treatment. It’s been one hell of a fight to get where I am today. It’s hard work and I recognize not everyone can go back to work as quick as I did. Not everyone has the mental strength to go to the gym or physical therapy. I pray for Cancer warriors everyday. Pray for no pain, pray for their survival. Thank you for the words Luvvie ❤️
soulwanderlust SAY👏🏽THAT👏🏽 I’ve been reading a lot about #ToxicPositivity and it really is dangerous. It makes people feel less than and weak, when every healing journey should be honored individually ❤️
thesavagestate Your point about how he (Chadwick)may have even realized he pushed too hard some days was incredibly salient. When we look from the outside in, the view is limited. We have to remember this and wage peace, sometimes at others but mostly, at ourselves. Such a strong and thoughtful message. Thank you- as usual. ❤️
Michelle Y. Hill Thank you for posting this. There are lots of people living their lives through illnesses. Some are going to work. Some are taking care of their families and taking care of themselves. Some only have enough strength to live each day. We can honor Chadwick Boseman’s life without dishonoring the lives of other people living with illnesses.
Sheri Koch Hoffmann Yes! and while he was suffering, people still shamed him because his illness-related weight loss was not meeting people’s expectations: they jumped to conclusions and assumed it was drug-related. He was not even allowed to have his own battle-journey on his own terms because it was judged relentlessly.
Melissa Clark Sr. The lesson is in living a life of grace in the way that feels true to you. it’s not about stoicism, secrecy, or being this larger than life person. unless that is true to who you are. i can’t imagine what it is to know the face of your physical end. i can only imagine there is a reckoning that must be made. it’s ok to feel what you feel. but in the end, you have to do what is for you.
Kerry Kutzuba Slocum And we don’t know how many days he did make the choice to rest. He probably did. And he probably had people to lean on and pick up some slack that not all of us do. We don’t know and you’re right, we’re not entitled to. But we don’t need to live up to the partial story.
Jenny McQueen Hell yes. Chronic and deadly diseases are not inspirational or a reason to learn a lesson. They are a terrible part of life that people are unfairly facing. People don’t choose to work through them, they usually have to even afford the health insurance to stay alive.
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1 Comment

  1. FiFi Smith
    September 22, 2020 at 1:36 pm

    Mrs. Luvvie, I’m crying right now, because what you said spoke volumes to me. I live daily with some illnesses and they try me really, really hard at times. Days I don’t feel like getting out of bed, getting my grandbaby ready for school, going to work, washing dishes, cooking, I don’t feel like breathing, some days I can hardly breathe. BUT I FIGHT!!! I fight in little ways, in medium ways, sometimes God blesses me to FIGHT in like David did. When He does, I’m so thankful!!! But I have always felt guilty about giving in and sometimes even giving up the fight for the day and just lay, just be still. NOW, I don’t have to feel guilty anymore and I won’t feel guilty anymore. THANK YOU.