After finishing Capoeira class last week, I heard the name Nipsey for the first time. A student of mine said his name after I announced that classes would resume when I returned from visiting my parents in Los Angeles.
She said, “Rest in peace Nipsey.”
Another student, replied, “wait, hold up, Nipsey died?” Without hesitation, the response came, “Yes, he was killed yesterday on Slauson and Crenshaw in front of his store.” That’s when I returned to the conversation. “My parents live around the corner from that spot. Who is Nipsey?”
Over the next ten days, from students, YouTube video clips, music, newspaper articles, my sisters, and parents I learned about Nipsey Hussle. He was born as Ermias Asghedom to an Eritrean father and Black American mother. To many, the thirty-three-year-old man was a Grammy nominated artist, father, entrepreneur, and community activist. Before his death, Nipsey was in the process of using his resources and social status to make a positive impact in South LA.
Nipsey Hussle grew up in Los Angeles. For much of his life, he grappled with gang culture and how to make a living as a hip-hop artist and entrepreneur. He made some poor choices in response to systemic racism, limited financial resources, and internalized perceptions of masculinity. Much of Nipsey’s music reflects the behaviors he adopted as a member of the notorious Crips’ organization.
Without knowing his story, I was disturbed to learn of another life cut short by murder. According to the LA homicide report, Nipsey, is among the 615 people killed by homicide in LA County over the last twelve months. It’s unfortunate that he will not be the last person to die by the hands of someone with a gun.
Hussle’s death is a call to leadership.
We must do better in our community to teach our youth and adults to use non-violent solutions to address conflicts. Leaders must find the courage to continue the work that Nipsey began.
Through Nipsey’s resources, he impacted economic growth in South Los Angeles. He owned several businesses and worked with local schools to improve education. Nipsey was active in curtailing gentrification in his community.
In a Los Angeles Times article, Sonalli Kohili writes about Nipsey’s involvement with schools in the Crenshaw district. Hussle sponsored campus revitalization projects and attended meetings with parents, students, and school administrators. One student shared how Nipsey’s presence inspired her to become a community activist.
Everywhere I went on the days leading up to Nipsey’s funeral I either heard his music or someone mention his name. When I took my computer in for repair, the woman who helped me, talked about how his funeral impacted the limited staff at work. She said, “he was a pillar in our community, so I don’t blame them for calling off today.”
On the first morning after arriving in Los Angeles, I went for a jog. When I reached the corner of Crenshaw and Slauson where Nipsey died, I stopped. I walked to Nipsey’s Marathon clothing store, paid my respects, and took photos of the memorial that appear in this blog entry.
When you are that close to a location where a tragedy has occurred, it causes you to think about your legacy. In this entry, I shared some of Nipsey Hussle’s story. What will others say about you when your time is up?
Appreciate the blessings that come with life today. Use this day to make a positive impact in the life of someone else. Realize tomorrow is not promised for any of us.