Nipsey Hussle: How Black Folks Respond to the Murder of a Ghetto Champion

The bold assassination of Nipsey Hussle has triggered heightened reactions from those in the Black community.

Response #1: Fear

The first part of these reactions begins with a question:

Once you “make it” or become successful, should you come back to help others from your community?

Let me begin by saying that the fact that Black people, the most structurally oppressed people in America and globally, are questioning whether or not they should come back and help other Black people is beyond RIDICULOUS! If we don’t help each other, then who will?

We have been one of the main groups of people who have struggled to unify. Granted, this was not a problem that we originated. Since the moment African people were stolen and shackled into this country, there have been consistent efforts from outside sources — aka White America — to keep us dismantled. We were conditioned to see each other as opponents instead of as family.

We are historically aware of the forceful attempts to divide us. With this knowledge, why would we allow the evil actions of one person to separate us further? The fact that Nispey’s killer has got Black celebrities and influencers fearful of continuing with their philanthropy in Black neighborhoods is beyond enraging. Cutting ties with the same community that made you, supported you, and celebrated your potential when no one else would makes you a selfish coward committed to no one but yourself. You will gladly step on the backs of our people to reach heights that you are unwilling to make available to others.

I’ve heard some Black celebrities talk about how they’re not trying to “keep it real” anymore, and that “keeping it real” places your life at risk. Seriously!? This has nothing to do with “keeping it real”. What does that phrase even really mean? I assume it means that you adhere to your old ways of behaving so as not to be seen as a sell-out by your people. But this is dumb. No one is suggesting that you engage in ways that are foolish and reckless. No one is advocating that you neglect the wiser person that you are now for the ignorant person you once were.

Nipsey wasn’t “keeping it real” by doing dumb sh*t, he was simply standing outside of his place of business — a business that he used to help employ other Black people. This situation has nothing to do with “keeping it real”, but it has everything to do with not taking advantage of your community by getting wealthy off of them and then leaving them in the same chaos that made you rich. It’s about values. It’s about not only looking out for yourself.

What’s even more devastating is that young, Black kids are witnessing the fearful retreat of Black celebrities — their role models — and they internalize it. Days after Nipsey’s death, I returned to a high school in Compton where I was facilitating weekly workshops. Needless to say, the students were not interested in working. They needed to vent, to release their pent up frustrations. While in passionate dialogue, one student said, “We all should just leave and not come back.” Another student in my class said, “Ms. Bethanee, I’m not trying to go to college right now, I’m trying to survive.” My heart shattered.

My students feared gang retaliation. They feared for their safety — for their lives. They couldn’t wrap their minds around such a tragedy. I was like a sergeant watching all of my soldiers shrink down from the warriors that they had become. How do I resurrect their spirits during a time such as this?

I understand their fear and confusion. The question essentially becomes:

1). Why do good, if no one appreciates it?

2). Why should I risk my life to do good?

I get it. Your safety is a priority. You must be mindful of your surroundings and who is in your space. There will be times when you must keep a safe distance. But you do not abandon your community. You always come back to help if you can. We are not crabs in a barrel. We are a people with so much power & beauty & influence who only need to learn how to work & harness power together. We must trust each other — When will we trust each other?

If a soldier dies on the battlefield, do you run away in fear, or do you pick up the sword and charge forward? This is not the first time that a pillar of the community has been slain. Their deaths shouldn’t stop our progression. You pick up the baton and you keep going. We are fighting a war — a mental, political war. We are fighting against the racist structural forces around us, while fighting against the negative stereotypes and lies the world has taught us to believe about each other.

In response to my students, I say this:

You do good because it is the right thing to do. You do good because you are manifesting a bigger picture, a greater vision that goes beyond you. You do good because it enchances the joy within yourself, not because you need validation. There will always be people who will acknowledge and appreciate your good work. The community appreciated Nipsey. One person shouldn’t hinder others from receiving blessings.

When you are doing good things, with the right intention, you are not risking your life. You are fulfilling your life’s purpose. Be smart. Be intentional. But do not be afraid.

Response #2: Conspiracies

The second part of these reactions stems from Black people criticizing other Black people for providing conspiracy theories surrounding Nipsey’s death.

Listen, I don’t know the full details or reasons behind Nipsey’s murder aside from what has already been reported. Would I put it past the government to do some shady sh*t? No. Would I put it past an evil soul to commit a heinous act independently? No. Would I put it past an evil soul and the government collaborating? No. Again, I don’t have the answer. However, don’t criticize Black people for thinking there is a conspiracy.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a conspiracy is: “A plan secretly devised to accomplish an evil or treacherous end. A plot. Implies careful foresight in planning a complex scheme.”

Historically, we know about calculated efforts meant to destroy us. We know how the government has not only infiltrated our communities and organizations, but has infiltrated global communities to intentionally cause havoc — to intentionally keep people in a state of oppression all in efforts to maintain power.

Understanding all of this, you can’t blame Black people for responding in a way that history has taught us to respond. A history that veils the truth and swarms us with lies.

The very fact that we are questioning the narrative at all reveals the residue of a painful past that has yet to heal. Questioning the narrative is a reflection of our current national turmoil. We are living in a time where we don’t know what the truth is. We must question everyone’s story because so many people are LYING. Our own president is a blatant liar who showers our social media feeds with outlandish fiction. He is able to lie because his supporters allow it. We are living in a world of smoke and mirrors.

You can disagree with conspiracies but don’t act as though people are so crazy that they would create scenarios or plots that haven’t already played themselves out in our history. Whatever narrative you choose to believe, what cannot be disputed is the fact that Nipsey has passed away.

Response #3: Unity

However, his hopes and his dreams are still alive. He planted good seed and it is our job to nurture what has sprouted and aid in the growth of our people — to invest in our youth. Dreams only die if we let them. I’m so proud of the way my city came together to honor Nipsey, and to show the world that Black folks know how to rise as one — how not to retaliate against each other, how not to fear each other — that’s progress.

Let’s continue. Let’s uphold the vision. Let’s pick up the baton, and keep going. We can cross the finish line together.

… By Whatever Means Necessary

Announcement: F*$k Donald Trump! His mis-calculated actions and lack of compassion, coupled with his ignorance and narcissism are not just deplorable, but also diabolical. I can’t wait until American citizens rise up in aggressive opposition of his heartless policies, cold leadership, and show the world our efforts to be the example that we set out to be.

Viva Obama! …. 1f620

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Deep Breath) Ok friends, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let me focus on the real reason for this post:

 

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After the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain (sidenote: I’m still not convinced that Anthony committed suicide and highly suspect foul play, however, I will consider the possibility for the sake of this post) sent the world into shock, the general response was: “You just never know what people are going through”. This is true. You never know what someone else is dealing with, or the state of their mental and emotional health. Unless you’ve had in-depth conversations with that person, one should be slow to judge and not assume anything.

 
But another major lesson as a result of all this is: “Just because you have money does not mean you are happy.” I think this was the realization that shocked people the most. It’s one thing to understand that you never know what someone else is dealing with. However, the general consensus is that whatever you are dealing with in your personal life can be easily resolved with an increase of funds. For the majority of people, their problems are money-related, and they would love to have a fraction of the earnings of these celebrities if it would mean lessening the weight of their financial burdens.
For the majority of people, the thought was: “Why in God’s name would you kill yourself when you have SO MUCH!

 

 

They had everything: booming careers, beautiful homes, fancy cars, designer clothes, the freedom to travel, access to any and everything, and loads of cash. For the majority of people, it simply doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense because we have been conditioned to believe that money equals happiness. Despite the countless suicides of various celebrities, their drug problems, and the public display of mental/emotional breakdowns that can come with fame, the public still believes that money is the key. However, it was something about the deaths of these two people, especially Anthony Bourdain, that seemed to strike a deeper cord with people. Reality was hitting hard. The nation was beginning to see the error of their thinking.

 

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Money is nice, but ultimately it will not give you the peace and the joy you deserve. I think what really gives peace and joy is knowing that you are loved and living out your purpose. This love includes a certain level of self-care that should be made a priority in everyone’s life. It is vital to take care of self. Maybe that means seeing a therapist, going on vacations, being with friends, going to church, engaging in your favorite hobbies, etc. We all must do what we can to keep ourselves full. Operating through this world can easily drain you and you must find a way to re-boot.

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I started thinking about how I implement self-care. One of the things I do, besides engage in favorite activities with close friends, is pray and meditate. I may not meditate on a strict schedule everyday, but I do make time during the week to get quiet and connect with myself. I also listen to music as a way to elevate my energy. Working out has become an important part of my self-care also. I’m not always excited about working out, but I can always feel a physical improvement afterwards. My body just feels better after a good workout. Keeping this blog is an additional part of my self-care. Having a platform such as this to express oneself, regardless of how many people read it, is always a great thing.

 
But the last big thing that I do for self-care is turn off the news. I know that it is important to stay informed, and I do stay abreast of the important events that have taken place. However, I’ve noticed that, especially during these past two years, my energy gets low after watching the news. Especially being African American and hearing report after horrifying report about another unarmed black person getting shot — R.I.P. Antwon Rose — or harassed by cops, and the growing outcry of bigots and racists who insist on “taking the country back” ; my emotional, and mental health must be protected. So I turn the news off. I realize that I have to keep myself full not just for me, but for the young people I teach and motivate. I refuse to pour fear and hopelessness into them. The world supplies them with enough of that. The responsibility I feel for my students can come with pressure but it also demands that I take care of myself so that I can be the best for them. This sense of responsibility has been a great incentive for me to maintain my health.

 
I urge you: Maintain your health friends. The world appears to be getting louder, and the need for introspection is getting greater. You must not allow the world to drown out your inner voice. Take a moment to get quiet and remind yourself of all that you have to be grateful for. Self-care is one of the pieces of armor you will need to maintain your sense of self in an ever changing world. Keep your peace …

… by whatever means necessary. 

 

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Valentine’s Day Special: “I’m Still Here”

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Well, folks, it’s Valentine’s Day. And instead of talking about more pressing issues like police brutality, global warming, the wage gap, or the incessant news coverage of Donald Trump’s stupidity, I have decided — for the sake of my sanity and the desire to unplug from worldly drama — to dedicate this post to Valentine’s Day.

Now, I’ve never paid much attention to Valentine’s Day. Although I appreciate the concept behind it, Valentine’s Day was just another day for me. I mostly looked at it as a commercial holiday and nothing more. Perhaps, it’s because I’ve never celebrated the occasion with anyone I was romantically involved with. This year won’t be any different. I am single, therefore, it will be just me and my single girlfriends choosing to acknowledge the love we have for ourselves and our friendship, rather than anything romantic. 

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For some, it might sound sad. The idea of single women on Valentine’s Day sounds much sadder than the idea of single men on Valentine’s Day. Lord knows how much pressure our global society places on women to have and keep a man. Women are sent daily signals about how our worth is dependent on a man choosing us and publicly claiming us, which, of course, is complete bullshit. Despite the bullshit, it’s hard to ignore the impact this conditioning has on women and our self-esteem. So when Valentine’s Day comes around, and we are still without a “bae”, it can lead to women feeling sorry for themselves and worrying about their romantic futures. I understand, I’ve had those same worries, not because of Valentine’s Day, but just as a result of running into guys that I never fully connected with.

However, don’t cry for me Argentina, because I am not sad about being single on Valentine’s Day. Not having a “boo” has been the least of my concerns. This past year has been such a learning experience for me. Stepping out on faith to lay the foundation for my own business has revealed both my strengths and my weaknesses. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve made great strides, I’ve cried, I’ve doubted myself and the gift God has given me, I’ve met some great people, I’ve considered quitting and going back to a stable job, I’ve cried, and I’ve ugly cried, I’ve considered securing a sugar daddy, and I’ve cried some more. But I’m still here. Granted, I’m not where I want to be, but I’m still here, and I am entering a new level of self-acceptance. I love who I am and that is something worth celebrating.

Growing up, I never had an issue loving myself, but this past year sent my self-love into question. Walking my path as a motivational speaker and dealing with adversity along the way made me question the love I had for myself and my talents. But I have chosen to not only embrace my growing pains, but to also embrace all of who I am: the parts of me that are great and the parts of me that are still in development. I have chosen to see myself in my entirety, proclaim my beauty, understand my perfect imperfections, and love myself again. I choose to love myself unapologetically, and during moments of insecurity, and with more passion than any man professes he can.e88cbf0e412471bc844088ac9b9b5efd--black-women-art-black-girls

I choose me.

I now know that when I thought I was breaking, I was actually shedding the pieces of me that I outgrew. I was having a break-through, not a break-down. I will acknowledge Valentine’s Day and every day henceforth as a day of triumph for self-love, instead of self-loathing. I will toast to this journey, how far I’ve come, and how many times I chose to stand back up after crumbling down. I’m still here.

Happy Valentine’s Day! Cheers! 

 

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Keep Me Off Your Pedestal

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This blog is in response to a comment that an acquaintance made. I told him that I have made mistakes in my life just like everyone else has. He said, “I don’t see you making any mistakes.”

I am a Motivational Speaker. I have been blessed with the opportunity to pour love and encouragement, along with some personal advice, into the people to whom I speak. However, sometimes people forget that I need that same love and encouragement poured back into me as well. I think the assumption is that as a motivational speaker, I don’t need others to encourage me because I can motivate myself. I think the assumption is that we, as motivators, have everything figured out. Well, I will speak for myself when I say that I do not have everything figured out. If I did, I would be walking on water like Jesus did, but I can barely swim.

 

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The truth is that I am not perfect. Do not make room for me on any pedestal that you have carved out to place me on. As a matter of fact, don’t put anyone on a pedestal; this would be a horrible mistake. I am simply a human being who has decided to accept “the call” to share some life lessons based off of personal experiences. I am not perfect. I am a vessel — an imperfect vessel — allowing my voice and my imperfections to serve as road maps for others. Hopefully, by displaying my journey, I will help someone else along theirs. I am a human being, which means that I am susceptible to all the emotions that human beings experience: joy, doubt, fear, peace, worry, sadness, glee, confusion, anger, etc. And on those days when I am emitting low vibrations, even though I am aware of what tools to use to counter them, I still need love to be poured into me. I need words of affirmation that will dissipate those moments of doubt. Fortunately, I am blessed to have loving, supportive people in my life who are there to lighten my load on days when I feel too weighed down.

As a speaker/teacher, the best moments are when members from the audience come up to me afterwards and share how they related to what I said and how they appreciated the message. It’s the moment when a student comes up to me being extremely vulnerable and boldly exposes all of their insecurities in front of me. They trust that I will be gentle with their wounds, that I will not judge them for how they came to be so emotionally bruised, and that I will be the sounding board of approval and confirmation that they desperately want. Those moments, as overwhelming as they can be sometimes, lets me know that what I said resonated and is relevant to what they are experiencing. It reminds me that I am here to use my gift to continue serving others — that me being honest about my growing pains aides others in understanding that they are not alone and that they can/will move past the stages and into something much better and much brighter.
It’s during these short exchanges that we affirm each other, we pour into each other and lift our vibrations higher.

 


So, no, I have not mastered life just yet, I am still learning. But as I learn, I share. I am operating as a vessel that is allowing God to use my voice and my imperfections to deliver a powerful message of self-love.

 

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Chadwick School Daze

 

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This week I had the honor and pleasure of returning to my old high-school to deliver a presentation to the senior class. I attended Chadwick School in Palos Verdes. It was surreal stepping back in time and returning the campus that had such an impact on me. I uprooted all of those old memories. Thinking about all the good times with my friends, in addition to, all the stressful moments we shared. Chadwick was the place that challenged me and forced me to stretch, to grow, to think, and laid a foundation for who I am today. It was an honor to be back.

Speaking to the senior class and sharing my story and life lessons from my book,
My Quarter-of-a-Century Life Lessons, was an experience I will always cherish. While speaking, I saw myself in them. I saw all the doubt I once had, the fear, the worry as to what the “Real World’ would bring. Would I be successful? Would I be ok? It brought me tremendous joy to affirm their questions and say, “Yes, you are going to be just fine.” It felt good to be used as a source of encouragement and reassurance for them.

I was also touched by those students who came to speak to me and ask me individual questions. I wasn’t expecting to be embraced to that extent, and they all echoed the same appreciation for my words, for my honesty, for my advice, and for reaffirming their success.

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I went into the lecture hall not knowing what the result would be. I wasn’t sure how I was going to be received. I only sincerely hoped that I could provide them with something beneficial that they could take and carry with them.

What ended up happening was even better. I very much wanted to be a blessing for them, but they were the ones who blessed me. Karma is real. You get back what you put out. And the same warmth that I gave to them, they returned 10x that warmth to me. It helped to re-affirm what I am here to do, which is to use my words to teach and uplift others. You never know how your words can affect someone. How a smile, an embrace, or simply listening can help ease the weight of the burden that someone else is quietly hauling. I was reminded of all this that afternoon. picsart_12-01-08-47-42

I know what my purpose is…I guess I’ve always known. Thank you Chadwick.

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