Let’s not trade complexity for simplicity

A good wine is a good wine for a good reason - let the winemakers tell you about their best wines and you can see why - nothing worth improving comes with a quick fix but a long and consistent approach - respect respect reflect and direct - avoid starting with direct

Blow the holiday, it’s time to talk

Chadwick Boseman’s untimely passing has made as deep an impact on me as his inimitable profound embodiment of the Black Panther: https://lnkd.in/gavS2gu
Rest easy, King T’Challa.
#WakandaForever

Rest in Power King Chadwick Boseman 🙏🏾 By John Amaechi

I often tell people in any introduction before a new audience, that “…I am a geek and a nerd and they’re not the same thing” – that will never be more evident than in this piece!

I have been waiting 40 years for the Black Panther film to come out. I have had the poster from the film, with T’Challa on his throne, as my iPhone wallpaper since it was available nearly two years ago.

After I saw another film I love, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, I was waiting for friends who had joined the mad rush of pee-strained viewers queuing for the bathroom. I found myself just staring at the poster for the Black Panther movie in the lobby. I wasn’t thinking anything per se, just captivated - somehow mesmerised by the collective imagery of the poster. A protagonist, his family and advisors and of course, those villains hell-bent on mayhem; the same as many posters for many films, but somehow unique in this context.

I am sure there is a word for being in a state of sheer joy and simultaneously near tears, but every time I think about this film, I am there…right on the edge. I’m somehow unable to assimilate the feelings of joy and pride with the regret of four decades of waiting and the sense that in mere days, those years of yearning will be met and the fear that my expectations for myself and my society in the future, will redouble.

It’s not accurate to say I am going to see me on the screen, but I am going to a film where black is regal, black is powerful, black is intelligent, black is diplomatic, black is a complex and three-dimensional character with an arc that doesn’t circle around constant tragedy and a struggle to define one’s humanity. In Black Panther, sophisticated humanity and advanced civilisation is the core of their character.

T’Challa’s native country, Wakanda, is one that exists as a neo-colonial costume ball in the minds of those in positions of global power, “it’s a third world country… textiles, shepherds… cool outfits” states CIA agent Everett K. Ross when asked what he knows about Wakanda.

T’Challa is a character who code switches moment to moment, and not just between Black Panther and the King of Wakanda, but between diplomat and defender, monarch and global superhero…and he does this while being authentic in every context.

I have spent my life trying to pull this off.

I have constantly failed.

I wear a suit when I leave the house most days, because I know without it I turn from psychologist or at least “business man” to super-predator. Even as I wear my suit, I know that the costume is unconvincing to many. I am a figure of intrigue at best, mockery often and – usually – fear… but rarely am I seen as I actually am.

I attended a meeting recently with the global head of a professional services business that my organisation, APS, has been working with for several years. I waited in their swanky, top floor client suites and before the meeting I decided to stretch my legs. As I left the swish meeting room and walked down the hall, I was arrested by a stranger, he grabbed my arm and without so much as a “hello”, he said in raised voice, “There’s no bloody sparkling water in here.”

He didn’t let go.

I know that many reading this, especially those who aren’t minorities, will think that the correct response is outrage, ripping my arm away from his grip (and in comic book style, ripping his arm off), while yelling, “Don’t you know who I am?!” or at least “I don’t work here.”

Instead, I stood and looked as this 5’5” man who gripped me like a high-street security guard manhandling a misbehaving (6’9”) child, and I smiled: “I’m so sorry… I’ll get someone to sort that…” and walked purposefully away from his grasp. 

On the way to the bathroom, only necessary for splashing cold water on my face, I passed a staff member, easily identifiable by their name badges and shiny, polyester uniforms and sorted his sparkling water deficit.

I turned the other cheek, because I had to protect myself and I knew every reaction that would feel good, would hurt me and my people – my team at APS as well as every other black person this man ever encountered.

I returned to my suite and when the ‘big boss’ arrived and decided he wanted a room with a view, we moved to a different room. He’s a man who attracts a lot of attention in his office and when we passed the “no sparkling water” room, I nodded in as dignified a manner as I could muster as I watched the man and saw the penny drop. Any colour in his face seemed to evaporate, his client presentation went from his key thought to a distraction as he watched fixated while the 'big boss' and I walked away smiling and chatting as friends.

I hope for his own self-preservation, that my actions have assured that this man makes one less assumption with those around him, and is less dangerous for it.

It’s the only way turning the other cheek feels like a reward.

Maybe this is as close to T’Challa as I’ll ever get?

I’ve wished I was T’Challa for most of my life, I wish I exuded his cool dignity and mastered his ability to channel the under-estimation of the world into an internal resolve and exquisite nobility. Instead, like many of my peers, the communal micro-castigation of others wounds me and undermines my conviction and my belief in my own capacity. And it makes it so on some days, I can’t see my own reflection in the mirror through the confusing morass of other people’s first impressions.

A bump on the shoulder and I’m back in the room. My relieved friends are now ready to leave; me, starring at the Black Panther film poster, less so.

I look at the poster again and the reflection of my face sits over T’Challa’s and again, there are tears in my eyes. 

I’m 47 years old and I feel as moved, vulnerable and uplifted as I’ve felt in forty years, looking at a poster for a film I see being about mastering an identity under assault as much as a kingdom under attack.

In that moment, I was reminded of a quote from the very end of the Stargate TV series that itself references one of my favourite childhood authors, Isaac Asimov (I told you I was a geek-nerd). It says, “Science fiction is an existential metaphor that allows us to tell stories about the human condition. Isaac Asimov once said, ‘Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinded critics and philosophers of today, but the core of science fiction, its essence, has become crucial to our salvation, if we are to be saved at all.’”

Maybe this is even more true when after years of waiting, you finally see the very best version of you starring back from a poster.

I start to walk away… my friends are talking to me, they want to know what I think of Star Wars, but all I can think is, “Maybe, just maybe, I can be a bit more like T’Challa.”

Written by

Bastion of Hope -Chadwick Boseman - Harvard Graduate - 1976-2020

Dear Howard University Community,

It is with profound sadness that we mourn the loss of alumnus Chadwick Boseman who passed away last night after a long private battle with colon cancer. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time. 

We were honored to have Boseman return to campus to serve as our commencement speaker in 2018. The campus was electric as our own native son took the stage fresh off the blockbuster hit of Black Panther. In a sense, the real T’Challa had returned home to the real Wakanda – The Mecca. 

During his remarks, Boseman shared his journey of challenges and successes in navigating the Hollywood entertainment industry. He described how he chose to speak out when asked to play characters that belittled the image of the Black man. He intentionally chose roles that reflected the vision of his people that he wanted to see on screen. Boseman spoke fondly of his days at Howard, calling it “a magical place” and saying, “when you have reached the Hilltop and you are deciding on next steps, you would rather find purpose than a career. Purpose is an essential element of you that crosses disciplines.”

It was Boseman’s desire to see the students of Howard achieve greatness. Together, he and I shared many conversations preparing plans for a project that would bring him back to campus, which was very close to being ready to announce. Although now he will not be here to witness the harvest of the seeds he planted, we will continue to water and cultivate them in his memory.

Boseman was a man of grace and humility. A deep thinker who had a deep passion for writing and uplifting his people. A staunch supporter of social justice, he did not shy away from using his voice in service to those without one.  We now know he was in a fight for his life yet continued creating magic for all of us without missing a beat.  He lived a full life by the magnitude of his example.  That reality buoys my spirits even in this time of sadness. One of the last times I saw him was at dinner with his mentor, fellow alumna and former board of trustee member, Phylicia Rashad. That interplay captured the essence of Howard University and our truth and service. He always appreciated the opportunity she made possible for him and she remained a source of support!

A native of South Carolina, Boseman graduated from Howard University and attended the British American Dramatic Academy at Oxford, after which he began his career as an actor, director and writer. His breakout performance came in 2013 when he received rave reviews for his portrayal of the legendary Jackie Robinson in Warner Bros’ “42” opposite Harrison Ford.  Boseman received the 2014 CinemaCon Male Star of Tomorrow Award, was named one of the Top 10 Best Movie Performances of 2014 by Time Magazine and was awarded a Virtuous Award from the Santa Barbara International Film Festival for his portrayal of James Brown in Universal Pictures’ “Get on Up.” 

Boseman famously starred as T'Challa/Black Panther in the worldwide phenomenon Marvel Studios' "Black Panther." He made his debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the African superhero in Marvel Studios’ “Captain America: Civil War,” in May 2016. He reprised the role again for Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Infinity War” in 2018. 

He previously starred in the title role of Open Road Films’ “Marshall” alongside Josh Gad. The film tells the story of Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court Justice, as he battles through one of his career-defining cases as the Chief Counsel to the NAACP. His other feature film credits include: the revenge thriller “Message from the King,” Summit Entertainment's “Draft Day” opposite Kevin Costner, independent psychological post-war drama “The Kill Hole” and Gary Fleders’ drama “The Express.” 

Although he was only 43, Boseman leaves to us a remarkable body of work portraying Black men of honor, purpose and dignity: Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall (Law ’33), and James Brown. This young man’s incredible talent will forever be immortalized in those performances and through his own personal journey from student to superhero! 

Love is Life and he had an abundance of both. Boseman reminds us that the quality of life is not measured in time, but rather it is measured in how well we live it and what we prioritized. He prioritized his wife, his family, his friends, his craft, and loving others. The characters he portrayed will be celebrated but his greatest gift to us was himself. 

Rest in Power, Chadwick!

Excellence in Truth and Service,

 

Wayne A. I. Frederick, M.D., MBA

President

A Theory of Nearly Everything- We are all precious and so should honour this

We are the product of a string of extraordinary biological good fortune

Disappointed in The White Moderate...

Today we must work together. Blaming allies doesn't help, but the white moderate must acknowledge systemic racism does exist. If they think it doesn't, just point them in my direction.

Education is the Answer to Systemic Change

The dehumanising of the black race is where racism started and must be acknowledged in schools and the history and text books

Black Lives Don't Matter

James Kiddle Assault

#BLM in relation to All Lives Matter

19 years after the murder of Stephen Lawrence justice to just two of the 4 suspects was carried out. History will tell you that white lives have always mattered and black lives still don't always.

The Cost of Ignoring Difference

White privilege does not mean that you haven't experienced hardship. It simply means that the colour of your skin has not been the root cause of your hardship.

Common - Be - Significant

I wanna be a duck...