When news breaks of a celebrity’s passing, we see the avalanche of tributes and condolences and within two weeks we all go back to our regularly scheduled program.
With the death of Ermias “Nipsey Hussle” Asghedom, I have noticed for many, including myself, an uneasiness with the passing of this prolific rapper. It’s funny I use the word “prolific” to describe Nipsey; the word was tattooed on his face, but it suits him so eloquently. It’s not because of his craft as a rapper and lyricist but more so for his commitment to his community.
Nipsey embodied this lost art that we rarely see in our community; he put the “neighbor” back into “neighborhood.” From providing jobs to buying the block where his store, The Marathon Clothing, resides in his neighborhood, the statement I have consistently heard to describe Nipsey for the past five days is that he loved his people and his neighborhood. He took pride in his neighborhood and wanted to see its potential growth and evolution.
How many of us can honestly say that about where we live? Do you even know who resides in the house to the right or to the left of you? Civic engagement does not start in the voting booth or at your local council meeting. It starts right at your doorstep. Let’s all take the first step to put the “neighbor” back into “neighborhood.”
Here’s how we can begin:
- Introduce yourself to your neighbor. I know this is so foreign but any neighbor who has turned around a problem block is a neighbor who really knows the people who live there. It makes a huge difference to know your neighbors and be able to talk to them.
- Revitalize the “It takes a village” mindset. Growing up, I couldn’t do anything on my block without my mother knowing because Ms. Pat made sure to tell her or would tell her after she disciplined me. The children of today do not have the comprehensive support system of the past to assist in their development and most importantly, self-esteem.
- Walk around the block. Gasp!
Youmean to tell me that feet must be used? The answer is YES. This is a great way to meet neighbors and get to know your neighborhood.
- Take PRIDE in where you live. Is the surrounding of your home clean or is it riddled with litter? Even if you didn’t put the litter there, pick it up. Instilling neighborhood beautification will deter most people from defacing your neighborhood.
- Join or organize a neighborhood association. By having a neighborhood association, you will be informed of neighborhood issues and can be proactive in addressing them.