By Cheryl Smith
I’ve always cared about others’ feelings. Or at least that is what I thought. As a child I remember playing the “dozens” where we talked about one another’s big head, lazy eyes, siblings, big ears, slew feet, pigeon toes; you get the picture.
But I also know that if I ever got wind that I was hurting someone’s feelings, or if the laughter moved someone to tears, I immediately backed off. For me I just didn’t find any pleasure in making people feel bad about the way they looked and as I grew older, I developed a practice of not talking about things folks have no control over. After all, “Bucky Beaver” got braces and his teeth are beautiful today, but Peanuthead’s dome never caught up with his body so 50 years later, he is still, “Peanut” and we know why.
We were kids and sometimes, actually most times, we were lacking in compassion. However, as adults we should have, and use, more common sense. We should be mature, but sadly, many will never get past that stage, “when I was a child…”
Which brings me to my truth.
Several months ago, in April, a video was released by actor Chadwick Boseman on Instagram. From that video emerged the mean girls, bullies, trolls, passive aggressive and totally unhappy folks who have nothing better to do than to tear another person down. Sure there were those who expressed concern about his health while still others surmised that he was losing weight to prepare for another role
Since Mr. Boseman’s death from stage IV colon cancer on Aug. 28, 2020, there has been an outpouring of love for the Howard University graduate. Some have expressed regret that they were so callous. One person posted, “Little did we all know he’d die 4 months later.” That’s right. You just never know and that is why compassion is so important and necessary, especially during these times. Actually sometimes people need to just keep their mouths closed. Wishful thinking, you say?
While I will remember Mr. Boseman for his outstanding roles as an actor, I am even more proud of him for encouraging youth to find purpose in their lives, not just a job; how he lost an acting job because he spoke out about racial stereotypes; and how his last social media message was so critically important as he showed his support for vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris and stressed voting. Among Mr. Boseman’s many roles, he played the Hon. Thurgood Marshall, baseball great Jackie Robinson, Black Panther, and my fave, the Godfather of Soul James Brown. But it was his work off camera that is just as, if not more admirable. That’s right, I will remember the man who played roles, but was also a true role model, with something we could all have a little more of: compassion!