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“Black and Brown people should not be at odds… I’m not with that – we have a common enemy and should be working together”
Nipsey Hussle

By Jose S. Gutierrez Jr. aka Luvva J - Africatown Media 

With great sadness and shock, the Africatown community of Seattle, Washington (and beyond) is impacted by the example of a great ally and abolitionist, Nipsey Hussle’s murder on the afternoon of Sunday March 31, 2019.  Hussle is both an ally and abolitionist – as an ally, he personally and professionally represented and shared the values of Africatown and the repair, restructuring and resurgence of Black communities everywhere.  Here is an inkling of what he did – Nipsey did not simply try.  He did this.  Nipsey opened multiple businesses in his legendary Los Angeles neighborhood of ‘South Central’ (now known as South LA) and Crenshaw – to include his clothing line and store, Marathon.  This boutique retail clothing and lifestyle shop is where he was targeted and murdered, where two of his associates were also shot (their current status is unknown as of the publishing of this article).  It was extremely important, as he reiterated and emphasized whenever the opportunity to discuss it arose – that Nipsey invest in his community and for his family. As a member of the infamous/famous/legendary/notorious Rollin’ 60 Neighborhood Crips – one of the largest street organizations/gangs in the United States of America – he was able to sidestep the fateful path that ultimately leads to crime, incarceration and/or death.  This remarkable reality coupled with his ability to rap, allowed Nipsey to envision a life beyond the LA streets and his talent would allow him to realize his visions with worldwide travels.

Nipsey’s worldwide travels made a powerful impression upon him and changed his world view.  As a member of the Rollin’ 60s, he was part of a decades long street war by default. Nipsey would courageously do what few could, following the path of Afrika Bambataa’s example after traveling to Africa and experiencing an awakening.  Bambataa, despite recent accusations against him, along with others in the Bronx, New York created peace in the midst of, at the time in the ‘60s and early ‘70s, some of the most horrific, violent and rampant gang violence on record. Nipsey, would forge peace among Black and Mexican/Central American gangs and their members, wherein murderous animosity had once stood as a barrier to peace and a threat to general community safety.  

He would go on to take the risk to record music with other (once-enemy) Crips, Bloods, and others and be endeared by the Mexican/Central-American populations as a sincere man of peace, prosperity and his word.  As a man of his word, he put his money where his mouth was and invested in the following endeavors. He provided charitable funding for schools in South LA, refurbished a neighborhood basketball court, opened a restaurant, operated a fish market and was of course an independently successful recording artist.  Also, he opened a coworking/incubator business center (Vector 90) for Black and Brown people to have a business center to operate businesses and provide opportunity for economic development.  He also established a center and program for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education, offering advance learning opportunities for young people in educational zones, where it is most needed.

Nipsey was in talks with his business partner to construct a 100-unit building for home-living space on his old stomping grounds at West Slauson Avenue – where the land is under one of California’s state-designated low- income Opportunity Zones.  These buildings would include opportunities for store-fronts and economic viability in addition to affordable housing in the city of ever-rising cost of living expenses. This was the work of one man who envisioned these things (at least publicly) in 2005… And he lived to see the vision impregnated.  He reached out and partnered with like-minded, astute business people and community members to introduce and undertake his mission.  Who will now help give birth to his vision and take the baton of Nipsey?

Nipsey was an abolitionist.  Nipsey stood in the middle of the hells on Earth in the United States of America to announce with courage, his stance to end violence between Black and Brown people, where the world capital of gang violence has existed for decades.  For many this is a blip on the chart, but for those who know of the legendary tales of the gangs of Los Angeles – they know that his life was put on the line just for making this courageous commitment.  He desired to abolish the very violence that he forcibly succumbed to.  He did not run from the pitfalls, violence and ills of his community… Nipsey filled the pitfalls, stood in the gap of violence and attempted to cure the ills.  He was an abolitionist. He did not retreat in the face of adversity, he advanced with targets all over his person. It would be irresponsible to not make note of the fact that he represented, with pride, a street organization/gang with a history of unforgettable, unfathomable and unresolved violence – before he was even born.  

There is no loss of memory of the altercations and fatalities between Los Angeles gangs – some existing for more than 100 years.  That affiliation is always a factor, once committed to it.  However, it must be noted that like Ice-T, Nipsey seemed to have a slight neutrality and sense of impunity that hovered around him – meaning he would ‘get a pass’ (he would not be approached with hostility) and have the general respect of many gangs and gang members, because he was not a ‘active’ (participating in regular gang activities promoting violence and conflict) gangster – he was doing things that upgraded his life and the life of others.  So, many people in the South LA community defy the assertion that his murder was gang-related, although reportedly several shootings in the nearby area followed his murder. His shooting was executed with military precision and finality, as those with knowledge of ‘kill shots’ can attest – five shots to the body and a headshot for confidence of death. The irony and tragedy of this abolitionist’s mysterious murder, is that he was scheduled to meet with Los Angeles Police Department administrators today for discussion of ways he can participate in interceding in and preventing gang violence in LA, which in recent years has dipped to the lowest rates in more than three decades.

Nipsey was a major star and influence.  His star was greater than any words he ever rhymed.  He was a heroic figure who put his word, action, money and life on the line – he didn’t have to do any of that.  However, it meant something beyond words for him to take this action and stand as an example. Nipsey upheld the legacy of his mighty ancestors of Eritrea. He was independent and proudly represented Africa and African-Americans as a Los Angelino – and he held his community up.

Nipsey was more than an MC/Rapper, more than a businessman… He was a man.  A man and a male are two different things – anyone can be born a male, but a man assumes a role, sets an example, rises to occasions of need and obligation and is a pillar of his family and community.  That is what we lost in this assassination of Nipsey Hussle. Like the other tens of thousands of lives lost in the Los Angeles gang wars, his life counts. Turning the page on he and the thousands of others is a sign of desensitization – and it is a mistake that dehumanizes us.  The greatest legacy left by Nipsey (along with his family) is his purpose, willingness and courage to go against the grain and set an example… As the Central District of Seattle re-awakens and is reborn as Africatown – establishing similar ventures as Nipsey Hussle was in LA, what can be learned from this tragedy?  What will be done to evade this chain of foolishness and senseless loss of life, where Nipsey’s entire hustle was a threat to many parties – within the community and from outside usurpers? With those questions posed, maybe these are as important if not moreso… Who will follow the transformational example of Nipsey?  Who will give birth to his and your own ideas for greatness? Who will take his baton and run the uphill and painstaking race? Who will Hussle forward?

May Peace Be Upon Nipsey Hussle, his family, friends, fans and his beloved fiancé, Lauren London.

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