Chadwick Boseman’s superhero drive doesn’t make you a slacker

John Kennedy
LEVEL
Published in
6 min readSep 1, 2020

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Welcome to Minority Report, a weekly newsletter from the LEVEL team that packs an entire week into a single email. From the way #teamnosleep twisted Chadwick Boseman’s death to the week in racism, from pop-culture picks to a must-read LEVEL story, it’s everything you need and nothing you don’t. If you’re loving what you’re reading, tell a friend to tell a friend.

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This year just continues to take, take, and take. And just when you think something’s gotta give, 2020 takes some more. On Friday, the world collectively mourned once again, this time following the death of Chadwick Boseman, who died of colon cancer at 43 years old. The young Black star battled the disease outside of the public eye for four years, becoming a legend in his own right by bringing so many other real and fictional greats to life on the big screen, from Jackie Robinson to James Brown to the Black Panther. Yet somehow, some folks have managed to twist Chadwick’s awe-worthy work ethic while ill into a new way to criticize and shame others for their own productivity — pseudo-motivation that’s thick with ableism. Who raised these people?

You know the type: They post misguided maxims on Instagram about how the grind don’t stop and include silly hashtags like #teamnosleep on every other tweet. They’re from the “you have the same number of hours in the day as Beyoncé” school of toxicity, ignoring the fact that Bey has a whole-ass team around her designed to amplify her art and counsel her astute business moves. In the wake of Chadwick’s death, these types of problematic sentiments began populating social media: If he could put on a performance we’ll never forget as King T’Challa while fighting for his life behind the scenes, they claim, you should be out here accomplishing your goals on the highest level, too. You have no excuse, they say. Aside from being a shitty, judgemental value to assign to life — based entirely on output — it’s a harmful and unfair measuring stick against which to compare others, whether healthy or struggling with serious issues of their own.

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