By Hipolito Munoz, Managing Editor/Publisher
It is dangerous to try and understand why Anthony Bourdain committed suicide, especially because many felt that he had everything to live for and yet he is gone. As in other celebrity tragedies, his apparent suicide brought out those that exploit these terrible moments to promote “life lessons” that have no place in these moments of grief. What we know is that there are people in our immediate circles suffering and somehow we are missing the signs, because we don’t know how to approach grief with compassion. We are encouraged to try and fix others by being there, giving them hugs, telling them that things are going to be okay or just giving them their space, it is so hard to know how to help a person that is going through circumstances because we are encouraged to “man up” and “get over it.” It’s just easier to ignore signs, tell others and hope someone will follow up. Our society makes it difficult to make meaningful connections because we have adopted sarcasm as out go to emotion and that encourages isolation rather than to create moments that require time, compassion and knowledge on how to truly support a person suffering from wounds we cannot see or feel.
Mr. Bourdain was a hero to many because he was open about his flaws, his past and still, he tried to become a better version of himself. His admirers and fans did not want to be him but they wanted to emulate him. His openness about his background also helped us see that many of his peers could also make the decision to be compassionate and empathetic. That men like him can use their persona and influence as he used his persona and his status to shine the goodness and the importance of those people that most ignore on purpose.
As he traveled the world, we felt that his curiosity was genuine and honest, and his fans discovered through the years that he was, and he begun to tell all the stories people of color experience, by encouraging them to tell it themselves through his features, because although these folks have told those stories over the centuries they often ignored because those stories feel foreign to those that do not feel a sense of connection with them. Bourdain amplified those stories and he let them tell those stories in a way that was transparent and truthful and he gained more friends.
Mr. Bourdain, most importantly, also proved again why media representation is critical for social justice in all stories, especially those that seem mundane and are about people who are just living their lives and about how they make their living. Those stories help us connect with each other regardless of back ground, distance that separates them, skin shade, financial situation, religious beliefs; we have lost a man that was clearly aware of his status in the world, and was very matter of fact about his work, because he believed that we all deserve respect and fair treatment. We have lost a true humanitarian, but his life will give us hope, and will help all of continue to push for representation in a world that still caters to those that unlike Anthony Bourdain, prefer to see us separated and vulnerable.