As I write this article, my heart is as heavy as a bowling ball.
I, along with the rest of the world, just learned about the Denver car accident that took the life of cultural icon, Anthony “Zin” Mills a.k.a. Wali Akil.
For those who did not know him, Zin was the owner of All Real Radio, host of “Rise and Grind”, an accomplished rap artist, activist and all-around Hip-hop Renaissance man. For those who knew him; well, there is no need for me to speak for him, because his presence in your life spoke for itself. Though short in stature, we’ve lost a giant.
It is said that “energy” is neither created nor destroyed. It is only transferred from one life force to the next. If you knew Zin, you know that he was the living personification of energy. Most people that knew him can’t remember exactly when they met him. It’s like being asked when you met energy. That being said, it is difficult to except the death of someone so full of life. Just as energy can never be destroyed, the legacy of “Zin” and All Real Radio must never be destroyed.
Zin was one of the most talented, articulate, educated and creative human beings you will ever meet. He could have been anything he wanted to be. However, he (like so many of us in the small circle I run in) chose to devote his gifts and talents to the spreading of truth, the fight for justice and the forward press toward equality. People like he and I are misunderstood. As an activist, I know that most people will never understand what drives me to do what I do. Because of that we suffer. It is a life of “sweet sacrifice.” It’s sweet because you know you’re living out your purpose, but at the same time it’s painful being misunderstood; especially by those you love.
People don’t understand why you’d rather start a small radio station that produces conscious/positive content versus taking your talent to a mainstream station that plays music destructive to the minds of the next generation. People say to you “there’s no money or fame in that.” But what do you do when you are hardwired to be a servant of the people FIRST?
These are the kind conversations that Zin and I shared. We were both greatly misunderstood Black men who understood one another perfectly. We both lived lives of sacrifice that trickled down to our families and everyone around us. So I didn’t simply lose a friend or an activist comrade. I lost another misunderstood brother that understood the core of why I do what I do. And for that reason, my world seems smaller at this moment.
I received a call from a spiritual advisor on the day I heard the news. She shared a prayer with me that states “Lord please make me acutely aware of everything in my life that I take for granted.”
That hit me hard. Then she instructed me not to take MYSELF for granted. That hit me even harder. When the angel of death shows up unannounced and leaves with someone that gave everyone so much life, it is indeed a trial. We must be careful to show our appreciation for one another’s contribution to the uplift of our people every chance we get. People should not have to die in order for us to appreciate the magnitude of the power of their work. I spoke with him a few days before his death and the last thing I said to Zin was “I love you, brother.” Knowing this makes the bitter pill of this loss easier to swallow. But, then again, misunderstood people understand one another so it’s easier to appreciate one another’s sacrifice.
I woke up this morning on the ropes. I broke down crying at the red light on my way to All Real Radio to participate in a tribute show. As I sat for hours and listened to the testimonies I felt a burden being lifted. The people he touched, through their testimonies, touched me.
As I said, we are unapologetically misunderstood Black men. But I was listening to people who seem to, now, understand my brother and why he moved as he moved. I am happy for him. Not because he’s being lionized as a cultural icon. I am happy for him because he is finally understood.
Those of us whom he touched must commit ourselves to keeping his work alive in his absence. You can do so by downloading and promoting the All Real Radio app immediately. Please make financial contribution to his work and his family through www.allrealradio.com. The word “Zen” means to be in a “state of total and complete focus.”
Let us focus completely on supporting his vision and most importantly treating one another with the respect, care and kindness that he treated others with. The slogan for the All Real Radio movement is “We make the World Better.” I can, without hesitation, declare that you my brother, Zin, indeed made the world better.