By Chanel Cain
The news of Stephen “tWitch” Boss’s passing on Wednesday, December 14 sent shockwaves. Losing a star that bright is never easy. As more and more publications broke the news, some noticed a pattern in the headlines.
Though his eight years on “The Ellen Show” may have been what many knew him for, others pointed out that this was not all he was.
Stephen “tWitch” Boss was a powerhouse in more than just dancing ability. His time on the reality competition show “So You Think You Can Dance” opened the door for many other young hip hop dancers to feel legitimized in their craft. His skill was matched by his energy, with peers remembering him as a driving force. His positivity was electric, moving. His time on “The Ellen Show” placed him in the homes of thousands each day. His smile shines through on the faces of his children and his wife.
While no one can fully control how they will be remembered, the legacy of some Black individuals are either limited or entirely overlooked. There are too many hidden figures whose contributions to their craft are just now being discovered, and some feared that this was another instance of that erasure.
Many felt this way in regards to the headlines about Boss, taking to Twitter to voice their distaste.
Two headlines, one from Forbes and one from USA Today, prompted this tweet:
The reduction of Black artists, Black creatives, Black innovators is always a slippery slope. In an age where representation is at the forefront, mistakes like this are hard to overlook. The stories of these people hold more than just simple documentation. They hold power, they say “I was here, I was something.” Boss was more than a DJ, he was more than a dancer even. He was a person, a person who deserves the respect of those who chose to tell his story.
Documenting a person’s life, whether it be historical giants or those who bring us a smile after a long day at work, deserves more care, even if it is just in a headline. While both Forbes and USA Today have since changed their headlines, the damage is still done.
It is ongoing work to ensure that the legacies of Black figures are done justice. They are more than their one popular movie. They are more than their one hit song. They are more than just a DJ.
As the days have passed, colleagues, close friends and family have expressed both their sorrow at his death, and their joy in knowing him. With these glimpses, more of the full story is told, beyond a rundown of Boss’s achievements.
Friend and collaborator Kalen Allen shared a heartfelt thread, memorializing Boss:
It is a collaborative effort to ensure that these legacies, whether big or small, are told with care and accuracy. That is the way our stories stay protected.