THE AFTERMATH OF TRAGEDY!
“The most important thing, number one, is you gotta get rid of doubt. If you got doubt in what you're doing, it's not gonna work and the way to do that is you have a plan. 'Cause if you got a plan, it's not just like a pipe-dream, you have a step-by-step list of things to do to get to your goal. If you don't have that, its very hard to really have faith in what you're doing 'cause soon as something pop up, it's gonna look like the end-all.”
Any tragedy (foreseen or unforeseen) can shock and devastate us to our core. They cause us to contemplate our own mortality and to take an instant evaluation of our own lives. We suddenly become what I have come to call clock aware. Just as clock awareness in basketball causes us to be mentally aware of the amount of time remaining for us to get off a shot, this clock awareness pushes us to take stock of the goals and dreams we have set for ourselves. How close are we to achieving our own desires? How much time is left on our personal shot clocks?
This is even truer when the tragedy is the untimely death of a well-known celebrity; who we have watched accomplish the things we perceive as parallel to our individual notions of success. We are drawn to the fact that these figures remind us that our lofty aspirations are indeed attainable. Simultaneously, we separate these figures from us regular folk . . . placing them on a pedestal if you will. After all, they have obtained the success and respect that most of us are still struggling to achieve.
The senseless murder of Los Angeles area rapper, actor, entrepreneur, and activist Nipsey Hussle is the latest in a long line of shootings that have left the world in disbelief, shock and anger! Hussle, born Ermias Joseph Asghedom, grew up in the rough streets of South Central Los Angeles. Early on he seemed to embrace the love he felt from his strong Eritrean heritage as well as the Rolling Sixties Crip gang he was a noted member of. His loyalty for family and the integrity that he learned from his parents glued him to both entities, but inside he could feel that there was so much more . . . more than slangin’ and bangin’ in his Crenshaw Neighborhood. These strong family and gang ties provided him foundations that allowed his leadership qualities to be forged in the fire of day-to-day reality of living in the hood. While most residents are searching for a way out of the hood by any means, Hussle was trying to figure a way to change his community into something viable and self-sustaining. This would prove to be a marathon battle in the war of his life. His father’s Eritrean ancestry had prepared him for just this. Ermias means “God will rise,” in Eritrean.
Eritrea is an African nation that sits along the coast of the Red Sea. Its capital at Asmara is bordered by Sudan in the West, Ethiopia in the South and Djibouti in the Southwest. The Northeast and Eastern parts have extensive coast-line along the Red Sea. The tiny nation fought and won a grueling 30-year war to earn their independence. He was prepared for war!
Much like slain human rights activist Malcolm X and his pilgrimage to Mecca; Hussle credits a 2004 trip to his father’s homeland for giving him a mental and spiritual awakening. His 3-month stay there greatly broadened his horizons. He began to see things on a global scale. The stages were suddenly much bigger than just his Los Angeles community. He could see the bigger picture now. His vision for the future of his life, his community, and the world was born.
So often in the aftermath of tragedy, the greatest lessons to be learned are overshadowed by the pain, anger, and confusion that looms long after the event. Rosewood, Florida and Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma were undoubtedly immense tragedies that brought to the nation unbelievable pain, anger and frustration. However, I believe that there were economic lessons that should be painstakingly researched and studied. These lessons would surely benefit poverty-stricken communities all over the globe. These non-affluent areas were transformed from rag-tag groups of former slaves and their families, into thriving communities with bustling economies. Imagine this during a time when only a few decades earlier most of the residents owned nothing except their families and the clothes on their backs. In this blog I didn’t want to dwell on the pain but rather the things that he left here for us . . . the reasons that Ermias became Nipsey Hussle.
The one bulging constant in Ermias’s life was his unwavering love and respect for family. We may get to pick our friends, but our families are provided for us by Our All-Knowing Creator. We are His gifts to each other. A family that allows animosity or discord to remain among them diminishes their own strength. Fix It! Here is your corporation, brand, your bloodline, support group and fan club. Nip had strong pillars that were deeply rooted in family history and culture. Margaret Boutte (Grandmother), Angelique Smith (Mother), and David Ashgedom (Father) were cornerstones, while his queen; Lauryn London, his children Emani and Kross, and his brother Samiel provided additional support. His secure foundation and launch pad were complete. Now a destined trip to Africa would thrust the anchor of his foundation further into the depths of time. Our bloodlines and their peer groups used to form our trade routes centuries ago. Nipsey’s solid foundation/launching pad then allowed him to extend his family globally and manifest the things he’d learned from each of them. Your family’s honor is proven when those who become family consider it an honor to do so. Family is Key!
While it may be rare to hear people speak of integrity and honor these days (and even more so for a rapper) another thing that has been a constant part of the testimonials I have read or listened to about Nip was his incredible, unshakable integrity and honor. Anyone who has fought for change in their lives has or will come to understand that true change starts within. Good moral character is something he exemplified and expressed openly. If moral character could be elevated, then self-expectation would follow suit. With greater self-expectation comes a greater degree of independence. Greater independence increases self-worth. To help you understand the difference between self-expectation and self-worth, try to think of it this way. Self-expectation would be cleaning up the neighborhood or establishing a free lunch program for kids, while self-worth allows you to not be discouraged if these things do not manifest or do not do so in the time frame we have imagined. These are the tools for dealing with adversity and failure without losing hope or faith in neither ourselves nor our plans. We may need to do a little revising, but we keep the faith. Nip understood that increasing self-worth would do far more to decrease the violence that plagues America and so much of the world, than attempting to arrest killers after the fact. When we learn to value ourselves more, we learn to value life more. If we don’t value ourselves, killing another human being holds no consequence since we are already dead within our skins. Locking up criminals can only ever be effective to a certain degree. The expectations of some are so low that incarceration is all they can see in their conceivable futures. They have expected and accepted it long before it ever happens.
Once the family’s integrity has been firmly established and the networks have been connected. The natural progression is branding. Hussle understood that in order to empower his community he should rely on almost ancient economic theory. In order for an individual to have any true control over his financial future, he or she must become an entrepreneur at some point. Small business is the backbone upon which the world economy is supported, or at least it used to be. The widely acclaimed industrial revolution could never have happened if many small business networks had not been combined. The U.S. government disperses thousands of grants to fund ideas and projects that provide public services and stimulate the economy. It does not however grant “free money” to help individuals and families in need become self-sufficient. It seems that we have devolved from the time when we utilized financial tools like the cooperative (or Coop), to set a communities’ economy in motion. Our newest steel jungles raised themselves out of the small country communities that were established via these simple economic tools; the economics of strength in numbers.
Nip had learned the art of incorporation. This turns a sole-proprietorship or general partnership into its own legal entity apart from its owners. Nipsey knew that entrepreneurship was the only way to bring his community out of economic despair and into self-sufficiency. With this in mind he commenced in a brilliant plan to brand his entire community. The more neighborhood businesses that thrive, the more capital remains in the community. The community becomes the product, the seller and a major part of the consumer base. The aforementioned integrity lends trust to the brand and ensures there are no violations of business ethics. Our brother had no doubt discovered that the code of the street is merely a less formal version of the business laws of trust, supply and demand. He was now experienced enough to know that smaller networks can be combined to form larger industries, which would provide more stability and thereby be an asset to the world economy. In laymen’s terms it would be a win-win. Nipsey had an expanding vision of his Crenshaw neighborhood mirroring the financial success of those of Brentwood and Beverly Hills.
Nipsey Hussle was attacked in front of his Marathon Clothing store in South Los Angeles . . . ending his physical existence but bringing his legacy and the blueprint he left for us full circle. Support Marathon Clothing and you are supporting his legacy, following the blueprint and embodying the best humanity has to offer.
I purposely left the greatest step in the blueprint for last. It fully surpasses all other concepts because without Ermias’ strong belief in Our Creator, the entire journey would not be possible. His Eritrean heritage is but a stop along his bloodline, all the way back to The Father. This was the power that drove his desires; the contents of his heart and soul. People may attempt to look at his gang affiliation as a negative aspect of his life. I can tell you for certain that Our Creator can quickly use a negative to awaken a very positive force within us. Positive change is one of the healthiest and most enlightening travels we can embark upon. If your relationship with Our Creator is wavering, you should resort to any means to FIX IT!
If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? (John 4:20)
These are just some of my thoughts on the things that our magnificent brother left here for us to build on. If you have ever listened to any of Nipsey Hustle Music you can hear each of these aspects emphasized. When you pay attention to a song like “Grinding All My Life,” you know that he is reminding us that this is not a sprint, but rather a marathon!
Leave your thoughts! Don’t be bashful . . . not an attractive character for Kings and Queens. Get involved!