30 April 2019
I was absolutely devastated when Nipsey Hussle died. At first, the news barely phased me, but the more that came out the more meaningful his death became.
It says a lot about how jaded my responses are when a man dying by gunshot barely phases me, but what it says, even more, is why his death had any meaning to me. Until he died, I had no idea who Nipsey Hussle was, and that is the problem.
Nipsey Hussle received eulogies from people whose work in activism I admire. They all talked about how great of an impact he had and how compassionate he was. These same activists had little to say publicly about the man before he died.
Our public discourse rarely focuses on good deeds, and when it does, it is often because some financial interest brought it to our attention. We hear about the work of Bono, Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, Elton John etc., yet most of the people we hear about do little more than have an idea and spend money for someone else to do the work.
We do not hear about the people actually doing the work.
Nipsey Hussle was one of the people on the ground doing the work. He was not a donor who served as a public face for people who do the good work that needs to be done.
The people who interact and are a part of communities are the ones who make the real impact, where every action becomes tangible because of the direct relationship between actor and act, but instead, we focus on the dollars of money that people spend to help those in need instead of the direct actions of community members.
Why do we focus only on the money behind a situation?
When I was reading about his death and the memorials written about him, his work as an activist was mentioned second to his efforts as an entrepreneur by everyone except BuzzFeed.
This does not condemn those writers, they still focused on the way that he sought to bring social change to an area normally ignored, but why, when listing the roles and labels that can be placed on him, did activist come last?
What does that say about our culture that it was chosen to be the last label thrown on him and not the first, and why did his business decisions receive more attention?
We seem to ignore the character faults of people who make enough money.
Steve Jobs is seen as a hero and an inspiration, yet when his daughter highlights his cruelty, our public discourse glazes over it. Our President admitted on tape to sexually assaulting women but we still elected him because he is supposedly a good businessman.
Nipsey Hussle is not immune to that, either.
We ignored his toxic ideas about what constitutes masculinity because he made money and had entertaining music, but we also ignored him as a whole, and it seems like we ignored him because he did not make enough money to deserve to become a central character in our cultural identity.