I, first want to start this article off by saying Rest in Peace to Nipsey Hussle. And send my sincerest condolences to his family, friends, and all of those (including myself) whom he touched with his music, wisdom, and his unparalleled grace. Nipsey will surely be missed.
In hip-hop, death is pretty standard. To me, it seems like there are a few rappers that die every year. And an overwhelming amount of those deaths are shootings—in the very neighborhoods that they were raised in. Rapping may be one of the most dangerous professions that I can think of.
I say that to say this: murder and death, in general, isn’t uncommon in hip-hop. But something about Nipsey’s death hit differently. I think it hit differently because we saw what Nipsey was and could have been to a community (and world)- that is so desperately in need of authentic grass-roots type leadership. What we saw in Nip, we saw in Malcolm, we saw in Martin, Fred Hampton, and even Pac. We saw a charismatic, down to earth, influencer that was committed to making a change.
When we lost Nipsey, that hope for change that seemed near got pushed a little bit further, all over something that probably wasn’t important anyway. This was a senseless killing. We all were robbed of a great man that was doing so much to make a difference.
But as much of a one of a kind person Nipsey Hustle was, we must realize that there are other “Nipseys” being taken away from their families every day. But people don’t seem to care as much when it isn’t a person of the same social stature and relevance as Nipsey Hussle.
In hip-hop, as well as the broader inner-city or “hood” culture we tend to glorify “shooters,” the same people who are killing black men, thus depriving our community of potential leaders and game changers.
The hypocrisy is real! And until we look that hypocrisy squarely in the eyes and call it what it is. Tlphe Nipsey situation is bound to happen again–-it already happens every day. The victim may not impact as many people as Nipsey, but they may have been just as great as Nipsey to his family, to his friends, and his community.
We must shift the culture, and start condemning killing, drug dealing and disrespecting our women and community. Every time we support people who glorify the street life, we are supporting the genocide of our own people.
Our community has endured so much trauma, that we have begun to perceive trauma as normal, and we have even gone as far as embracing it. And it seems like people gravitate towards the street nigga mentality more than being a pillar in their community. It’s as if being street nigga or a real nigga is worthy of praise–maybe our communities have been traumatized so deeply that we can’t see ourselves as anything more than a “street-nigga,” thus many of us don’t aspire to be more than that.
Years ago, such a term would have probably been seen as the worst thing you could call a black man. Now people–especially rappers–treat it like a term of endearment and are proud of their criminal “achievements.” Being called a street nigga or a real nigga is somewhat of a badge of honor instead of the most disrespectful thing that someone could say to a black king.
One thing I’ve learned from working as a trauma therapist is that one of the first steps to resolving trauma is to separate yourself from the traumatic experience.
Someone that has been raped must change their perception of themselves. They must cease to see themselves as a “rape victim” and view themselves from a more empowered perspective rather than merely from the context of their trauma.
So, if black folks in the Crenshaw and Slauson’s of America want to remove themselves from the trauma experienced as a result of decades—if not centuries—of oppression, we must no longer see ourselves as street niggas, thugs, shooters, goons and so on. And start empowering each other, and referring to ourselves in ways that help remove the chains of oppression–once and for all.
Rest In Power King Nipsey,
Although your body is no longer with us, your spirit, vision, and legacy will be immortalized. And will spark the minds of the leaders of tomorrow.
The Marathon Continues!