“This hits differently.”

I feel the fellow Black community has said this a lot over the years, very much like @ReginaTV pointed out on Twitter.

For some crazy reason, 2020 was supposed to be THE year. The year of possibility, hope, change (which can still happen if we vote correctly in October/November), and optimism. But I feel that came crashing down in a lot of ways we weren’t prepared for.

I don’t speak for every Black person, so by no means am I saying we ALL feel this way, but gauging by my social media feed and friends a lot of us feel the same way.

When Kobe died, it was a complicated feeling of hurt, loss, shock, and confusion. I understand the complexities surrounding his death, but to me, he was a flawed human being who I believe worked hard to redeem his wrongs of the past. For those who don’t agree, I completely understand and respect that.

The pandemic hit, and without a leader, we saw high deaths counts and the beginnings of an economical turmoil that didn’t need to happen. This has caused a shift in how we get together socially, how we work, travel, and explore the world.

Then Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd (plus countless others I haven’t mentioned). The civil uprising that started in the middle of the pandemic was the pain of years, decades, and centuries of oppression. This time, the world heard us and a lot joined the fight. Even so, the “leader” of this country decided it’s OK that those protesting their first amendment rights should be gassed, arrested, practically kidnapped, and thrown into a car because how dare we go against hate.

There are a lot of emotions that hit at once: a lot of anger, a lot of pain. I told myself to bend over backward to essential workers because they’re just trying to do their job and risking their lives; not only because of Corona but because people are violently upset when asked to wear a mask.

For educators, it’s maddening to see them be treated as if they don’t matter by our government and even some parents. Nothing has settled down. Nothing seems to be looking up. It all seems hopeless.

But the DNC Convention happened, and while I, a left-leaning “Democrat” have my criticism about the party’s operations, I can’t tell you I was happy to see leaders step up and say how they would handle issues. It’d be a lie if I said I didn’t sob when Sen Kamala Harris accepted her nomination as Vice President of the United States.

The next week was the reporting of Jacob Blake being shot seven times and tased in the back. While the protests from George Floyd’s death continued, it faded away in mainstream news per usual. But then it came back because police officers decided to live their GI Joe wet dreams and unnecessarily harm a person who was trying to break up a fight.

The emotions of all of this felt like Groundhog Day. I tried to ignore it. I didn’t want to talk about it. But I kept seeing it, and me being quiet meant I didn’t care, so I thought to myself, so I said something. Of course, I saw the racists come out and of course, it angered me as well.

Then two people were shot at a protest by an asshole who dubbed himself as a “Militia in training.” He took it upon himself to cross state lines, go to this protest, and shoot to kill.

Did our leaders condemn this? Of course not. The protesters deserved it. “Portland better watch out.”

Then, to shock everyone, a king died. Chadwick Boseman, our beloved T’Challa, died on the 57th anniversary of when MLK gave his I Have a Dream speech, on Jackie Robinson Day (a person he played in the movie about his life).

He battled four years of colon cancer without anyone outside of his bubble knowing (which is fine because he didn’t need to tell us). And despite all of that, he filmed movies that left a lasting impression and legacy for all of us.

“This hits differently.”

The news hit hard. A lot of shock and numbness, tears, and just plain sadness.

While, yes, Chadwick Boseman was a lot more than the Black Panther in a greater span of things, his presence as The King of Wakanda gave Black people, especially young Black people. They found themselves in him. During a time when things are scary and confusing, one thing was certain, T’Challa was them and they were him.

When a celeb dies, there are always those people who don’t understand why people are, “so sad.” For a lot of us, their art is an escape from our everyday lives that may not be so pleasant. So when they pass, especially unexpectedly, it hurts. It interrupts our escape routine to cope and deal.

And when someone who was your escape from international turmoil dies, it hurts and stings worse. I think about parents telling their kids, in the middle of their confusing routine during these odd times. I hope they know Black Panther isn’t going anywhere, that they still have the movies and comics to turn to. Art never dies even if the person who did it does.

It’s hard to see that as a young child. It’s hard to see it as an adult sometimes.

What stands out to me the most is him giving his life to helping shine light in ours. It’s a gift I don’t expect anyone to give, but so thankful to receive it.

And when we say king, inside or outside the context of The Black Panther, it’s not about us worshiping him. It is, as Trevor Noah tweeted, “Not because we served him or because he ruled. But because of how he served us in everything he did.”

To our king, you’ve done so much for us and we couldn’t be more thankful. So selflessly you put aside your struggles to make an impact for us without anyone knowing. While you needed light, you were light, and now you deserve to rest. You’re not going to be forgotten, as you’ll live on in the hearts and minds of so many you’ve inspired.