We have now seen the impact of the slain Rapper-Entrepreneur-Social Activist Ermias Joseph Asghedom, AKA Nipsey Hussle. In what has become an all-too-familiar pattern of violence against our Young Men, this one hit home for many of us who have never heard his music nor his desire to rebuild South Central Los Angeles until his untimely death.
What he sought to accomplish once fame had brought him fortune, was to begin to transform his “hood into something good.” He could have taken the usual route that comes with that kind of income; move to the suburbs, leave your “peeps” to find their way out, and wall yourself off from the supporters who put you on top. He chose the road less traveled. He invested in his people and his community.
I must confess I never knew much about this amazing young man prior to his death, but I am inspired now to keep his vision alive to rebuild our communities TOGETHER. You see, gentrification can only happen when the people in that community sell-out and move out. I harbor no ill will towards any immigrants who have opened stores, gas stations, dry cleaners in the ‘hood….they see opportunity and seize upon it. Nipsey Hussle was one who said it is time we hold on to our valuable real estate and our culture. For that culture is idolized and imitated around the World. It is ours to embrace and to empower. That is the legacy we must CONTINUE in the wake of Nipseys’ sudden death.
In a Forbes magazine article from February 20, 2019, Nipsey Hussle describes how he and his team went from “hustling in front of the building to owning it.” How strange is that irony; he owned the very shopping plaza where he was murdered.
Might we now take his blueprint and seek to “buy-our-blocks” and thus, rebuke the wave of investors who are rapidly turning our communities into urban scenes that are sterile and unfamiliar to those of us who knew-it-when.” The only people who will save our communities are the people who are in it … Us.
Let’s start with having the conversation. Let’s ask around town, go to City Hall and the County Recorder’s Office and determine who owns the buildings that are in disrepair. Let’s create a team that can collectively purchase and remodel it and provide employment and services…allowing the dollars to re-circulate multiple times before exiting. Let’s pool our resources and see how much real buying power WE have. Look at the China Towns across America…they do it.
We Can Too.