Reflections on Taking the Revolution to the Nipsey Hussle Memorial



From a member of the  National Get Organized for an ACTUAL Revolution Tour:

There was a lot of openness to the full title of Joe Veale’s article, “To All Those Who Grieve for Nipsey Hussle... and Want a Better World.” People would run up to us and grab the article after hearing the title, based on both that it had something to do with Nipsey AND the truly yearning for a better world. This was real among thousands, I would say, wanting to know who we were and what this was about.

There was a difference, I felt, between getting out this article and the one titled, “WHAT REALLY KILLED NIPSEY HUSSLE? AND HOW CAN WE GET FREE OF THIS MADNESS?” The elephant in the room that it seemed few people wanted to touch was “being in the life” and the contradiction with what people are riding and dying for and whether this was harmful or not. There was an avoidance of even speaking to that in the memorial and throughout the day, I felt. Even as many talked about bringing people together, there was a broad feeling that this kind of senseless loss is something we have to learn to live with. Like the most you can do is figure out how to go out with respect and pay proper tribute to those who do. But why do we have to figure out how to live with all this, to prepare for parents to bury their children?

Some of what had brought people to the memorial: Nipsey was their favorite rapper and he was trying to do something good for the community. Others say that he had inspired them very deeply to better themselves and that they were capable of greatness. When asked what that meant, it was very much within the confines of making money but also giving back to others and the fact that he was about bringing unity and bringing people together.

I read the quote from BA about the meatgrinder to several people as a part of responding to those who were focused on Nipsey as an example of how to rise above their conditions:

Determination decides who makes it out of the ghetto—now there is a tired old cliché, at its worst, on every level. This is like looking at millions of people being put through a meatgrinder and instead of focusing on the fact that the great majority are chewed to pieces, concentrating instead on the few who slip through in one piece and then on top of it all, using this to say that “the meatgrinder works”!

—Bob Avakian, BAsics 1:11

One person said: I don’t want that to be true, I gotta believe that I am going to be the one who gets out. Another person said they agreed that masses of people are locked out, but what Nipsey was doing—by buying property and setting up a local business—was trying to get the rest of the people through the meatgrinder as well. Another person emphasized their “agreement” with BA, but “reinterpreted” it to say that it is not just determination, it’s also what resources and education you have available to you. Even those who had contradictory responses to this quote, when I asked them if they wanted to know more about this leader and this revolution, responded: oh yeah, definitely. Even though what they had said was contradictory, they were also still drawn to it. “This is exactly what I am always talking about with my friends.” They were seeing something in this they were uniting with, even though it was not fully how they were seeing it.

There were definitely people struck by what our flyer and agitation said about the “how to get out of this madness” and a hungering for something more. These included people who were from out of town. Some said: yes, revolution; I have been thinking about this. My main interactions were with young women, some who came from other places and wanted to know about this revolution and how they could be part of it. They conceived of revolution as fundamental change short of the overthrow of this system. Even when they would agree with you that the system needed to be overthrown—not surprisingly this was still in the confines of reform. They had come from out of town “looking” for something. When you asked people for their numbers to text them the video of the leader of the revolution, Bob Avakian—this was a key part of our plan for the day—they gave them. Also I was pulling out their phones and signing them up on the spot to follow us on Instagram, which people were very much open to.

When we got to Crenshaw & Slauson, there was a bit of a different feel: people having openness to the “this system has no future for the youth” posters. And when we said overthrow, people were asking how and sussing out our seriousness about revolution, what kind of revolution, how are you going to do that? People were trying to search for “meaning” in Nipsey’s death; it was making them think about their own lives and wanting to be remembered for something positive. There were a couple of people who I ran into who said that this “felt different” than Tupac and Biggie, and conspiracy theories about how they take out Black men once you get successful. Again the openness came either from women or people who were “unaffiliated”—but others took the flyer and I saw some people reading it.

There was an openness to engaging with what we were about, taking the flyer, taking it seriously and saying they were going to read it. So I tried to not get into a back-and-forth with this, but when I talked with people about the Points of Attention—is this something that interests you—people would say “of course, yes, this what I am into.” And people were following us and giving us their numbers. And I felt it communicated something real to actually be organizing this way, on the spot, with the texts, showing that we were aiming for something large. Because anybody who knows anything knows that if you are going to organize people, social media and texting are the main ways of communicating versus having a sign-up sheet or something. I was also telling people about the picnic and the showing of the film of Bob Avakian’s speech, Why We Need An Actual Revolution And How We Can Really Make Revolution.

Some other reflections: I still feel that we need to struggle to bring forward “influencers” from the neighborhood who are up in the life, as part of bringing forward blocs of people. I mean, even look at somebody like Nipsey who had these networks and connections, what a huge effect he had on people, even while not being that radical; the fact that he did represent in their minds something different and also represented for the people in the neighborhood; again this was contradictory but I think we shouldn’t underestimate the impact this could have.

Questions I have:

  1. How do we get people stepping out of their situation and conditions; pulling back the lens even further, not just on their own conditions but the conditions of the world? That the system causing all this suffering is imperialism and what that does?
  2. How do we get people to see that what they are living and riding and dying for is so petty in conjunction to what they could be living and dying for? And there is so much pride in it in one sense; how do we get some pride for being about this? What will your life be about? I mean, people are sacrificing, suffering, they have a lot of courage but all of it is serving to keep backing into the conditions that they are in now when it could be put towards really emancipating all of humanity. Stop repping for the system. Start repping for the revolution. It really is heartbreaking and infuriating when you think of it.

A couple of ideas:

  • I think we should do this American Crimes series in the neighborhood, we should have videos on social media. Quotes from BA, like: “These imperialists make the Godfather look like Mary Poppins.” [BAsics 1:7]
  • Social investigation in the community, getting more familiar with how people are thinking and reflecting and are there “circles” we could do in the neighborhoods.
  • Is there a basis to go to the Marathon store or people involved with this to talk to either Nipsey’s brother or others about what we are about and see if they would support in some way? Maybe selling the REVOLUTION—NOTHING LESS! T-shirts there?
  • Are there other pop culture influencers who we could send Joe Veale’s article to and ask them to tweet it? Could we get Joe on some of these shows, on the radio, etc.?

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