In Chadwick Boseman Disabled Black Kids Got Their Superhero, The Tragedy Is We Didn’t Get To Know Him As Such

BY IMANI: For Entire Post, Go Here…

ngd- This is a GREAT post and well worth reading in its entirety…

When I was about 7 or eight years old, I wanted to be a ballerina and actress. Bad. I would spin around our living room on my hands and knees and was constantly writing storylines and plays. I was hungry for it. I constantly begged to be enrolled in a neighborhood dance class that many of my nondisabled peers went to. My mom looked into it and went to enroll me. They wouldn’t take me. Day after day, my mother would go to the studio and beg them to let me in. It took her a year, but they finally let me in. The studio was black-owned. I mention the race of the owner because it matters that there are those within the black community that perpetuate ableism and exclude members of their own community because of it. Its why, for those with invisible diagnoses, choosing to disclose, even to members of our own can be risky. This is likely the aspect of his personhood that Chadwick Boseman had to consider when making the decision not to disclose his illness and disability to the public.

What’s baffling to me is that growing up Black and disabled, I was taught a sense of community and interdependence that quite often erases disabled Black folk. I was taught “each one teach one” and “ we take care of our own” but each time I asked where we could carve out space for disability representation, I was expected to understand that the Black community had greater priorities than that. If I really wanted for it to exist, I would have to create it myself like Black people are so often forced to.

Boseman’s legacy as the Black Panther will live on in his many fans, but for those of us that are Black and disabled, the tragedy comes from the fact that he represented a part of us that we are asked to hide because he too had to separate his illness from his talent. In death, fans of Boseman will want to sanitize the nature of their support of him, but looking back, it cannot be ignored that the moment his body began showing signs of disability, he was bullied off of social media platforms and jokes were made at his expense. Now, those same fans use his body as inspiration porn to shame others into productivity. His illness was discounting in life, but in death, it is currency. We cannot dismiss the ableism that comes from within our own community because we are marginalized by white supremacy. If we are going to preach the tenets of “each one, teach one” and “we take care of our own” we have to put in the work behind it.

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