What John Boyega in 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' means to me
It all started in 1999.
I was 8 years old and The Phantom Menace hit theaters everywhere. On that day, May 19th, I fell in love. My father took me to see the film and we got two large popcorns (cuz, he got money). Something happened to me when the room went black and the title screen lit up. I was a really fidgety kid with an extremely short attention span. It was hard to get me interested in almost anything for very long. But I was hooked and it’s been that way since.
I went back and watched my dad’s DVD versions of the first three movies. I read his books and comics that were published as part of the expanded universe. And don’t get me started on the video games — we could be here forever, but you get the point. I was obsessed. I am obsessed. I even started a Jedi Council that met after school, because that’s what cool kids do. As I grew older, my love of the force developed into a love of story, film, and one of my favorite storytellers of all time, George Lucas, for which I am grateful. In the midst of story is the space where I have felt most at peace and in love with life.
And still, it wasn’t until John Boyega was cast that I was completely able to see myself in the stories that raised me and my creative mind. Of course, I could use my imagination. And trust me I did. Samuel L. Jackson’s Mace Windu was the Master Jedi uncle that I always wanted. But seeing a black, millennial man holding a lightsaber, ready to fight for the light side of the force will be something I never forget. It felt like a personal achievement. John Boyega didn’t just live his dreams through this experience. He did it for 8-year-old me and every other black Star Wars fan, past, present and future. And if any of them are as proud as I am, then they know that it means more than anything else that’s ever happened in the franchise.
How do I know he did it for us? Because he showed me so.
Watching this video gave me the feels, fam. I wept grown black man tears. In the final scene, when John sees himself, lightsaber in hand, fear in his characters eyes, but determined to vanquish an enemy that stands against justice, the energy is overwhelming. As he daps and hugs the man with him, (maybe his father, another relative, or friend) it feels like I’m right there with them. We made it.
So I pre-ordered tickets for opening night, even though it’s my momma’s birthday (I called first, and she understood), because I’m completely prepared to stan for John Boyega and the Jedi Order like my girl stans for Beyoncé. (I know she’s gonna be embarrassed AF, but I don’t care.)