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Mourning In (Black) America: When Will It End?

On this episode of democracy-ish, Danielle and Toure mourn the loss of Chadwick Boseman and talk politics as the presidential race enters its last 60 days.

  • Iconic actor Chadwick Boseman’s passing is a devastating blow in a year that’s already brought so much grief.

  • The Trump campaign’s latest strategy is to blame “Biden’s America” for the mess we’re in.

  • Even in a summer of nationwide protest, justice is elusive and police brutality continues unabated. How many more burdens must we bear?


It's yet another heartbreaking week in 2020, a year that began with the tragic death of Kobe Bryant and just got worse from there. Now, we’ve lost actor Chadwick Boseman, who died last Friday of cancer at 43.


Boseman was an extraordinary actor who embodied so many of our heroes on the screen, both real and imagined. But his death is a particularly hard blow at this moment.


“Black people have just lost so fucking much this year,” says Danielle. “One of the memes I saw this week was like, 2020 has taken everything except for racism and police brutality.”


The sudden loss of Boseman has us feeling “like we lost Wakanda when we needed it the most,” she adds. “I think that's what's weighing on all of us.”


That, and the incessant stupidity, lies and cruelty coming from the White House. Are we leading up to America’s series finale, or will democracy be renewed for another season?


Episode Highlights –– America: The Final Season


Black is king

So many Black folks took their kids to see “Black Panther” on its opening weekend –– “because it was an important film for them to see,” says Toure. “Here was this beautiful world and this beautiful man and this beautiful vision of Blackness. Our children needed to see that.”


And it wasn’t just kids who were empowered by Wakanda and its king.


“To see him die –– to take away this fictional Black king, it just really rips your heart out,” Toure adds. “I’m inspired by how much he accomplished in such a short time on Earth.”


Boseman’s turn as T’Challa was just one of his unforgettable roles. In Spike Lee’s latest film, “Da Five Bloods,” he’s the leader of a Black army squad in Vietnam. He teaches them how to survive in the jungle and become better soldiers as well.


“It’s a really beautiful portrayal of a man,” says Toure. “From ‘Black Panther’ to James Brown to Thurgood Marshall, he was an extraordinary actor. But there's something in you if people keep saying, we see you as a leader.”


Danielle agrees: “He embodied Black heroism.”


Wakanda forever and ever

In recent days, we’ve learned that Boseman was battling cancer while he filmed most of these iconic roles.


Cancer is a “physically and emotionally gutting disease,” says Danielle. “That he could conjure the spirit, passion and strength … to leave behind an extraordinary legacy that allowed us to ask ourselves, even in his death, about the kind of impact and purpose we're having.”


Boseman must have been in extraordinary pain during these performances. In retrospect, Danielle thinks that he was faced with “the question we all existentially ask ourselves at one time or another: If you had a short time to live, what is your life going to look like?”


She says that Boseman “answered it over and over again, showing up as his most extraordinary Black excellent self.”


Make ‘Biden’s America’ great again?

Wakanda is quite literally the exact opposite of the dystopia perpetrated by America’s right wing.


“I saw this sign on the street the other day that said, Biden's America: rioting and looting,” Toure says.


“Is he president right now? I'm confused,” Danielle replies.


She’s not alone. Trump and his supporters frame today’s America as Biden's –– “as if Trump is running as the insurgent,” Toure notes. “As if Biden is the incumbent overseeing a wrecked America.”


Trump’s argument sounds something like this: When I become president, I will solve COVID and I will fix the burning American cities.


“I'm like, no –– that’s your current responsibi