I can never remember a time where I felt deeply saddened by a death of someone I did not know.
I was a child when Tupac and Biggie were killed. I didn’t grow up with Michael Jackson and Prince, their deaths didn’t affect me much. Muhammad Ali, who’s a personal hero of mine inspired a reflection but I didn’t quite feel the sorrow that I’m feeling today.
Nipsey Hussle’s death hits different. It’s been on my mind the entire week.
The tragedy for black people around the diaspora is how familiar we‘ve come to know death. We often aren’t afforded the luxuries of romantic dreaming on old age. For many of us, we are exposed to the harsh realities of death and destruction before we make it out of our teens.
We learn stress and death very well coming from the places we come from. Police shootings and gang violence can desensitize you. And when you see destruction that often, it makes the next one less severe.
The news of Nipsey Hussle’s murder has sent a shockwave through our world. Corporate America is running the headlines but this has not been your typical celebrity mourning cycle. Nipsey touched the lives of many and his death has stopped many of us in our tracks to reflect on our own lives and how we live them.
For young black men, we see ourselves in Neighborhood Nip. Many of us don’t come from much growing up and have faced trials and tribulations to get to where we are. Nipsey showed us that despite our pasts, we can grow to become a strong leader in our community. He taught us how to be independent, how to hustle hard with respect and integrity, how to honor our women.
And he did it all the while maintaining an effortless west coast cool the whole time. Nipsey made it look cool to go back to your community and rebuild. Nipsey made it look cool to lock in with one woman in a hiphop landscape that showcases being a player. Nipsey made it look cool to be intelligent and speak your mind with integrity.
We grieve because Nipsey represented the best parts of ourselves that we see when we look in the mirror. We grieve because Nipsey was one of us.
RIP Nipsey Hussle 🖤
This ain’t entertainment, it’s for niggas on the slave ship
These songs just the spirituals I swam against them waves with
Ended up on shore to they amazement
Now I hope the example I set’s not contagious
Lock us behind gates but can’t tame us
Dedication, hard work plus patience
The sum of all my sacrifice, I’m done waitin’
I’m done waitin’, told you that I wasn’t playin’
Now you hear what I been sayin’