Nipsey Hussle was an entrepreneur, artist and community advocate. His commitment to our community was evident. Hussle was part of a team of entrepreneurs and artists that developed Destination Crenshaw. The open-air museum on the iconic Crenshaw Boulevard will cement his legacy, "built for, by, and in honor of our community, and will celebrate the historical and contemporary contributions of Black L.A. and the Crenshaw community—the largest black community west of the Mississippi River."
Hussle also recently opened a STEM center in the Crenshaw district, to help address the lack of diversity in the fields of math, science, technology and engineering. He was part owner of Marathon Clothing, which opened in June 2017 as a "smartstore," complete with a smartphone app that allows fans to buy exclusive content and products. Hussle's entrepreneurial pursuits were not merely motivated by profit but a belief in our collective future. As Hussle once said, "When you hear 'buy back the block' as the narrative, that's powerful. That's a step towards redefining the expectation."
With the news of his tragic passing on Sunday we have many questions but most urgent, what now? We asked Shareef Abdul-Malik, Founder of WeBuyBlack.com, for his thoughts:
"We first want to give our condolences to his family and friends. And I’m asking that G-d would bless him for his good deeds. I can distinctly recall killing an ant as a little boy. I don't know if it was on purpose, but I remember coming back to see the dead ant and noticed maybe twenty other ants lifting up the dead one. They walked in unity, holding up the ant and then buried it. I was shocked. I witnessed a community of ants execute a social contract, but what impressed me most was that they immediately went back to work. There's a lesson in that.
If you step on an ant pile, notice how they rebuild it -- seemingly overnight. They are small but they work collectively and accomplish a lot, together. I say this to say that leaders in our community -- like Hussle -- only die when we put down the mission they sacrificed their lives for. The moment we stop saying what they said and doing what they did, that’s when they truly expire. So if we want to preserve the lives of those we love -- our leaders, the workers -- then let’s do like the ants and continue their work. There are times, yes, when their great work may have caused their death. But let’s not be afraid. If you step on an ant pile, they will strike back. Not only will they rebuild their home in 24 hours, but they will attack you for attempting to destroy their home.
So, let’s never quit. Never let your enemy kill your inspiration. In the word inspiration you hear the word spirit. A person that is not inspired by anything is a dead person, and a people who lose their spirit to produce are a dead people. So let’s be inspired by Hussle's work and motivated to continue that work. By doing this, leaders like him will live forever."
We mourn, absolutely, but we will also continue the work.