April 12, 2019The Dreidel
After experiencing his own ‘Birthright’ tour of East Africa, Nipsey abandoned the gang lifestyle and worked to better the lives of all young people caught up in gang violence.
Nipsey Hussle, an African American hip hop artist, rapper, songwriter, community activist and ex-gangster was gunned down recently in Los Angeles. His death sent a shockwave through the Los Angeles community and ended yesterday in a mammoth memorial at the Staples Center where he was eulogized by President Barack Obama. So, what does Nipsey then have to do with Jewish teens, and what lessons can we learn from him?
Jews and African Americans both share a common history when you consider the historical oppression that both cultures have faced. Without going into it, and exploring the different shades of inhumanity that we’ve faced, both of our cultures have suffered – and both of our cultures have those individuals who have risen from the ashes to make a difference in the world.
Nipsey attended Hamilton High School in the mostly low-income, African American and Latino communities of Crenshaw, California. At age 14, Nipsey dropped out of high school to join the Rollin 60’s Neighborhood Crips. Drawn by peer pressure, Nipsey gave in and made a decision to pursue a life of crime.
Just as Birthright encourages young Jews to experience Israel – causing many to change the direction of their lives and to embrace their Jewish heritage, Nipsey did something similar: He accompanied a friend on a trek to Eritrea, East Africa for three months in 2004.
Like Birthright, this trip forged bonds between Nipsey and his heritage. Those bonds made such an impression on this now 19 year old man, that he was inspired to return to Crenshaw as a community activist with an ‘entrepreneurial spirit’.
Nipsey’s aspirations led him to the entertainment industry where he made his mark as a successful rapper, hip hop artist and songwriter. It’s what Nipsey did with his success that should serve as an inspiration.
We all know of the rappers who reap the fortunes of their arts and blow it on expensive cars, lavish homes and extravagant lifestyles. Bling becomes their God, and almost as soon as it started, it becomes extinguished as the lifestyle cannot sustain itself when the income stops coming in.
Nipsey re-directed his fortune and invested in his community. On June 17, 2017, Nipsey inaugurated the “Marathon Clothing” store. This led Nipsey to become further involved with charitable activities, and serving as a role model to young African Americans.
In March of this year (2019), Nipsey contacted officials at the LAPD to arrange a meeting on how gang violence in South Los Angeles could be prevented. The day before the meeting was to occur, Nipsey was gunned down.
We share so much with our African American brothers and sisters. Nipsey’s own ‘birthright’ journey to East Africa accomplished exactly what our own Birthright tours of Israel do – it changed him.
Nipsey Hussle, of blessed memory, should serve as an inspiration to all teenagers.
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