It happened so fast. Saturday, March 30th, I held my 10th annual Black Male Summit. We were blessed to impact hundreds of Black boys and their families. As I drove to the summit I looked through my iPhone for some music to “pump me up.” As usual, I settled on “Victory Lap”, my favorite album by Nipsey Hussle. I’ve been listening to it every day during workouts for over a year. The following day, while still on a high from the success of our event, I got a text message from a former Crip gang leader that Nipsey had been shot 6 times on Slauson and Crenshaw Los Angeles and it didn’t look too good. The same young brother whose message of hope inspired me to inspire others the day before was now fighting for his life. It was a life lesson for me; one I will never forget.
To see a young Black man who had come so far and accomplished so much in such a short period of time lose his life so senselessly was tough to stomach. Not only were we robbed of who he was; we were robbed of who he was becoming. Nipsey Hussle was becoming everything that the culture prayed for in an artist. He was real. He was well-read. He was articulate. He was talented. He was industrious. He was intelligent. He preached and practiced ownership. He was spiritual. He was health-conscious. He loved a Black woman. He was loyal to the hood. He loved Black people. I watched Black America spiral into a collective depression unlike I’ve seen in a long time. It was as if when Nipsey died, our hopes and dreams died with him. At least for a moment.
I have never been the type of person who tries to tell others what God is thinking. I ain’t that “tapped in” and I know it. However, I knew instinctively that God had a bigger purpose in permitting Nipsey’s death. I felt it. Though we may cry tears of pain for the loss of our brother, we must never underestimate God’s ability to turn chaos into divine order. Sometimes God, in His infinite wisdom, will allow one great man to die so that millions may have a chance to live. At some point I know I had to shift the focus from who we lost to what we learned from that loss.
Five days after Nip’s murder hundreds of gang members marched together in a declaration of Peace in the name of our fallen soldier. The “Rolling 60’s” and the “Eight-Trey Gangstas”, historically sworn enemies, marched arm in arm for the first time in decades. This was unheard of. The same thing took place in New York and other cities. I watched a single act of violence become the catalyst for a Peace Movement throughout the streets of America. Never underestimate God’s ability to turn chaos into divine order.
In the weeks since Nipsey’s death I have heard more conversations about foods we should or shouldn’t consume, books we should be reading, investments we should make and why we should invest in our own communities and make the hood a decent place to live. I’m hearing more conversations about the importance of elevating the consciousness of our music, owning our intellectual property, loving our women, managing our money properly and, most importantly, putting spiritual energy into the world. I don’t remember the last time I witnessed so much life come from death. You have to be permanently blind to not see God’s hand in this.
One of my favorite lines from Nipsey’s album is when he says “find your purpose, or you’re wasting air.” The day after his death I noticed something while on my way to an appointment. I noticed the sunrise. It was a reminder that everyone who is born must die; and it does not matter how great you are, the sun will still rise the day after you die. It was a reminder to mash the gas on your vision while you have the time, because one day your time clock will run out. Nipsey Hussle’s death put a spotlight on his life. At the young age of 33 he’d already accomplished more than most people could in two or three lifetimes. He apparently found his purpose and wasted no air. There are young people out here who society has branded “unreachable” that have been reached and impacted by the life and death of Nipsey Hussle. Never underestimate God’s ability to turn chaos into divine order.
The last lesson that I would like to mention regarding the death of Nipsey Hussle might be the most important. Nipsey’s dad may have been from from Africa, but Nip was a full-blooded South Central “Rolling 60’s” Crip. He never denied or shied away from that. However, behind that blue rag was a genius businessman, scholar, artist, intellectual, spiritual Black man with the potential to change the world. Who would have thought that a man called “Neighborhood Nip” would receive the procession of a head of state at his funeral? This is a lesson for us all. We must stop judging our youth by the way they look and the circumstances under which they were raised. Behind that gang flag could be the cure for cancer or the catalyst for World Peace. May God grant the family of Ermias Asghedom strength to get through this hour of difficulty and pain. May the lessons we are learning from the life and death of Neighborhood Nip inspire us to be a greater people for God’s glory. And, oh yeah; never underestimate God’s ability to turn chaos into divine order. Be encouraged, my people.