The day after Nipsey was murdered, I awakened with a deep sadness. This time, the loss of a celebrity was different because this death hit closer to home for me. Someone who truly understood and appreciated the flag I’m constantly raising was taken from us too soon – just as the world was beginning to see Nipsey Hussle for something more than “just” an entertainer.
As a kid growing up in ‘the hood,’ my mother told me; “little brown and black boys like you generally see very few options: sports and entertainment, drugs/gangs, death or prison. And as far as a “way out,” the only visible option that’s socially acceptable for little brown and black boys like you, is normally sports and entertainment. But son, this just isn’t true.”
Because of her, Nipsey and I shared a common thought process. Nipsey once said [LA Times in 2018]: “In our culture, there’s a narrative that says, ‘Follow the athletes, follow the entertainers. And that’s cool, but there should be something that says, ‘Follow Elon Musk. Follow [Mark] Zuckerberg.’ I think that with me being influential as an artist and young and coming from the inner city, it makes sense for me to be one of the people that’s waving that flag.”
My mom would say, “Look at Reginald Lewis. Look at Bob Johnson. Look at Warren Buffett. There’s a difference between being rich and being wealthy. You must own the means of production; control modes and mediums of exchange.”
I’d like to say I listened to my mom right away and ‘got it’… but I didn’t. (Do teenagers and young adults ever hear their parents?)
However, I do now. And through my work at Digital Asset Monetary Network (DigitalAMN), I’m fortunate to have met Nipsey. He is after all, the first artist signed as an Ambassador to Vezt, Inc. The message I received from Nipsey, and sadly, other tragically slain cultural thought leaders like T.C. Izlam – who understood the social and economic inequalities oppressing our communities, is simple: it is our responsibility to actively strive for socioeconomic change. Not justice; but systemic, structural change.
If I wasn’t relentlessly driven before, I am now. My life’s experience has lead me to work toward building an economic growth platform that doesn’t simply offer us an opportunity to change the narrative of our culture – particularly as it concerns our inability to establish generational wealth. Instead, it’s to eradicate the ignorance perpetuated by an establishment deliberate in separating poor and disenfranchised people along racial lines; when these people should all be united by one core truth. We are the 99%, yet the 1% has a stronghold on established wealth.
I am not a sports or entertainment professional. I am a self-made financier from the Bronx streets who clawed his way up from nothing. I will continue to represent my culture positively; as it’s more essential now than ever before.
I hear you Colin [Kaepernick]. I will do my part to keep the legacy alive.
Thank you, Mr. Reginald Lewis. Thank you, Mr. Nipsey Hussle. REST IN POWER!