(in photos above from left to right Swipey, Tupac, Biggie Smalls, XXXtentacion)
They’ll say they lived by the gun, died by the gun… I’ll say they lived in their truth, battling the societal demons forcing us to be divided within ourselves for means of survival. These young artists went too soon, leaving us with soul piercing stories of hate, truth, and love. Leaving a tremendous impact on us all. I have been saddened again by the rapper XXXtentacion, and others early departure from us. I am inspired to write this, because though I was not aware of the Emcee’s music and story prior to his death, how he left us, how he sensed it coming, and his efforts prior to change his direction and the mentality of his fan base, has touched me deeply. Realizing again the delicateness of life, the reality of our world where "cash is king," and how God uses people to send a message that will resound to all willing to hear. X, was battling his demons and working to evolve. He came to revelations about his blessings and wanted to share his new found love with the world. He came, from a very challenged childhood, and like many of us still managed to smile through his struggles. He allowed himself to be so vulnerable, and thus touched so many young people with his life stories. Tupac and Biggie’s deaths were a part of my childhood, I identify with these kids. Seeing your heroes die so young, can cause so much emotional confusion and turmoil. We’ve lost many, too soon, to date, to gun violence. It has to stop. We have to pay attention. Unfortunately, I am not a stranger to losing friends growing up, some who felt like family died to the hand of a gun, untimely deaths with a promise of tomorrow. My friend Salim, an incredible DC visual artist, was a victim of mistaken identity. He called me the day prior to his death, told me how he finally, got a new position teaching and was going to start work Monday. He was so happy, and I was so proud of him. It was unreal when I received the news that he was killed, because some boys in the neighborhood, mistook him for someone they were "beefin'" with. They shot and killed Salim. How do we change this narrative? We put down the weapons... Accept the beauties of our vulnerability and humanity. Give back to ourselves, leading with love, giving ourselves a chance to stand tall in who we are. And not allow commercial sways to take us to our lowest selves and actions. We ask questions, think outside the norm, and challenge what we are fed by the media daily. We are open to creativity and individuality that helps us become our better selves. We seek help and surround ourselves with love. We allow for diversity and freedoms and fight for equality for us all. Make sure to live in your purpose and follow your dreams.