Sunday, April 28, 2019

Nipsey Hussle's Blueprint

"Gentrify your own hood before these people do it... Claim eminent domain and have your people move it... That's a small glimpse into what Nipsey was doing..."

~ Jay Z

"Eminent domain in the United States refers to the power of a state or the federal government to take private property for public use while requiring 'just' compensation to be given to the original owner."

~ Wikipedia

As the article writer took a contemplative walk to meditate as to what would be written about the enigmatic figure that is Ermias Joseph Asghedom, aka Nipsey Hussle. The physical rapper, songwriter, entrepreneur, and community activist is no more. However, at our core, we are 100% energy. Energy that was never created, can never be destroyed, moves into form, through form, and out of form, and the cycle is repeated.

On my walk earlier today, as I contemplated the title of this article, an individual crossed my path who totally resembled Nipsey; about the same height, full long beard and braided hair. He came practically out of nowhere, as he appeared from the side of a small building, made the right turn onto the walking trail, about 40 feet ahead of me. He was smoking a cigarette, made the first left from the trail and headed off in another direction.

I thought, how interesting, here's a figure that materializes right before my eyes, that favors Ermias Asghedom, in every way, shape, and form. The figure was a spirit visitation because the soul is ubiquitous. Considering the fact that I was, and have been since his timely demise, listening to his art, my energy attracted Nip's energy, to remind me how important this article would be, and not to procrastinate.

The "timely demise" comment is not a typo because there is no such thing as an "untimely demise." The soul exits the body at the appropriate and pre-ordained time. Please understand, unless you lived in Los Angeles, or you ardently followed Rap music, you probably were not familiar with Nipsey Hussle. Now the world knows who he was and what he represented consciously, and now sub-consciously.

The astute lyricist Jay Z put it this way, "Gentrify your own hood before these people do it... Claim eminent domain and have your people move it... That's a small glimpse into what Nipsey was doing..."

Allow the author to divagate a bit, to elucidate on "Eminent Domain", "Urban Renewal", and their deleterious effects.

Americans of all racial and ethnic backgrounds have suffered from government violations of constitutional property rights. But minority groups have often been disproportionately victimized, sometimes out of racial prejudice and other times because of their relative political weakness.

The Supreme Court has given condemning authorities a blank check to take property for whatever purposes they want. Private to private condemnations are often used for the benefit of the politically powerful at the expense of the politically weak. For most of American history, African Americans and other minority groups have fallen into the latter category. As a result, we have often been victimized by the use of eminent domain for “blight” and economic development takings.

Beginning in the 1930's, many states adopted laws and constitutional amendments allowing the condemnation of “blighted” property for transfer to private parties in order to alleviate “slum-like” conditions. Over the next fifty years, as many as several million Americans were expelled from their homes as a result of blight and urban renewal condemnations. Numerous businesses, churches, and other community institutions were also destroyed.

The vast majority of those uprooted from their homes have been poor minorities, primarily African Americans. The use of eminent domain to evict poor blacks during the post-World War II era became commonplace. "Slum clearance" was often referred to as, "Negro clearance."

Between 1949 and 1973, two-thirds of the over one million people displaced under takings sponsored by the Urban Renewal Act of 1949 were African American. This figure understates the total impact of blight takings on blacks, because many blight condemnations were also undertaken by state and local government without federal backing. Hispanic groups, such as Puerto Ricans, were also commonly targeted.

Factors to be considered in determining if an area is "blighted" and thus subject to urban renewal condemnation include such diverse matters as irregularity of the plots, inadequacy of the streets, diversity of land ownership making assemblage of property difficult, incompatibility of an existing mixture of residential and industrial property, overcrowding, incidence of crime, lack of sanitation, drain areas makes on municipal services, fire hazards, traffic congestion and pollution.

For an area to be termed "blighted" and thus subject to urban renewal condemnation, degree of deterioration or precise percentage of obsolescence or mathematical measurement of other factors do not have to be arrived at with precision, since combination and effects of such things are highly variable.

In many cases, the disproportionate impact on African Americans was not merely an accidental byproduct of efforts to "clean up" poor neighborhoods; it was deliberate gentrification. 

Local governments sometimes sought to rid themselves of what they called “niggertowns.” In most cases, those displaced by blight condemnations ended up worse off than they were before, and were not fully compensated for their losses.

In 1954, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of blight condemnations in Berman v. Parker. Berman upheld a blight condemnation that was part of a project that forcibly displaced over 5,000 people in a poor Washington, DC neighborhood. Some 97.5 percent of them were African  American. Only about 300 of the 5,900 housing units constructed on the site after blighting and gentrification, were affordable to the former residents of the area, most of whom ended up in worse conditions elsewhere. By the 1960's, the neighborhood in question was majority white.

Source: The Civil Rights Implications of Eminent Domain Abuse

Wholesale clearance of slum areas and pillar-to-post relocation of families who live in lower-income, impoverished neighborhoods, have long created discontent. Members of racial and ethnic minorities who have seen the impecunious buildings they occupied replaced by luxury apartment homes have grown resentful of city planning that rarely seems to make adequate provision for their needs. The late, great author James Baldwin, stated, "Urban renewal means Negro removal."

Nipsey Hussle's blueprint is all about lifting ourselves up from whatever challenges we face as Africans in America. Asghedom's archetype is also about self-education and entrepreneurship; it's about contributing to your own community. Thereby alleviating the need for handouts, and avoiding government-sponsored gentrification. 

The definition of gentrification is, "the buying and renovation of houses and stores in deteriorated urban neighborhoods by upper or middle-income families or individuals, raising property values but often displacing low-income families and small businesses."

Therefore, the solution to this historical quagmire is to clean, maintain, rebuild our own neighborhoods; to buy black as often as possible (and if you can't buy black, support black). In order to succeed, we must first - as part of Nipsey's model and sacrifice - we MUST stop KILLING one another. When you take the life of another black man or woman, you're essentially killing yourself and crippling the entire African-American race.

Whether you believe this to be true or just hyperbole, "We are our brother's keeper." Anything we do, going forward, contrary to the aforementioned statement, is a tragic indication that Ermias Joseph Asghedom lived his life in vain; that his efforts and ultimate sacrifice was meaningless and futile.

The Marathon Continues...