Yesterday, the funeral for rapper, businessman, and philanthropist Nipsey Hussle was held about a week after he was tragically murdered in front of one of his stores in Los Angeles. According to the news reports, he was shot to death by a 29-year-old named Eric Holder after an argument. An outpouring of grief from fans and other artists came soon after the news broke of the young man’s death.
The New York Times reported that the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) does not believe that the murder was gang-related, but they have not yet discerned a clear motive. Nipsey Hussle’s death was covered by media outlets on both the left and the right, but there is a distinct difference between how the artist was depicted by each side.
Unfortunately, this distinction illustrates one of the reasons why progressives have held the black vote for decades. But it also provides insight for conservatives who wish for the Republican Party to become more powerful by courting the votes of all Americans.
Nipsey Hussle was a former member of the Rollin’ 60s, a group that is connected to the Crips street gang in Los Angeles. In his youth, he lived a gangbanger’s lifestyle, but he later turned his life around. In an interview, he explained why he decided to pursue a different path:
“In my section of the Crenshaw District in the Rollin’ 60s, none of my peers survived. None of my peers avoided prison. None of ’em. Everybody got bullet wounds and felonies and strikes. So to make it out mentally stable and not in prison and not on drugs, that’s a win.”
In a conversation with the L.A. Times, he discussed his former life as a gang member. “It was like living in a war zone, where people die on these blocks and everybody is a little bit immune to it,” he said. “I guess they call it post-traumatic stress, when you have people that have been at war for such a long time.”
This is the part of Hussle’s story that has become the primary focus of conservative media’s reports: the gangbanging and gangsta rap, and if there are two things that don’t appeal to the average conservative, it’s probably gang violence and gangsta rap, right? But there is more to this story.
Unlike the right, left-leaning outlets understand that there are aspects of Hussle’s life that are far more important than his troubled past. Even further, these other parts of his story are more in line with conservatism than progressivism, meaning that conservative media is ignoring an important area of commonality in favor of promoting a particular narrative.
After Hussle walked away from gang life and grew wealthy from a successful music career, he purchased several businesses in the L.A. area and employed many residents in these communities as a way to promote self-reliance. In 2018, he co-founded a science and tech learning center for underprivileged youth. He described the center as a way for these kids to learn the skills needed to find work in STEM fields when they become adults.
“What Silicon Valley is saying to justify that lack of diversity is that there’s no pipeline from the inner city to Silicon Valley,” he explained in an interview with Complex. “The reason that there’s no pipeline is that we lack science, technology, engineering, and math skills, and you can’t teach a 13-year-old that; it’s too late.”
Progressive news outlets discussed Hussle’s past, but they emphasized his entrepreneurship and philanthropy. In contrast, both of these factors warranted only a brief mention on the right. In fact, some outlets were more interested in portraying him as a thug because he made gangsta rap music and disliked Trump. Apparently, that’s more important than the fact that he used principles that we claim to embrace to effect positive change in his city.
The fact that Hussle disliked the president does not mean he was some ultra-left wing socialist. He used his talents to build wealth, then invested in business ventures that created jobs in his community and funded causes designed to decrease gang violence and help people escape from poverty. Instead of screaming about how the government should step in, he stepped in himself. Is there anything more conservative than that?
Here’s another question: If, as conservatives, we are as serious about entrepreneurship and the free markets as we claim, then why is it that it was the left who focused more on Hussle’s efforts? One of the greatest strengths that we have on the right have is our ideas. Our ideology is based on the principles of self-reliance, limited government, and the free market. Unfortunately, the Republican Party has a debilitating weakness: The inability or unwillingness to communicate this message to minority communities.
Meanwhile, the progressive left is never afraid to venture into inner cities to engage with residents. Republicans correctly lambast leftist politicians for conning members of inner-city communities with promises of free stuff, while they implement policies that destroy the cities they claim to help. But if our party is unwilling to engage with minority communities face to face, why would anyone listen?
Likewise, if a black person were to see how our side covers people like Nipsey Hussle, is it likely that they would want any part of our movement? Conservatives cannot win with minorities if they keep sending the message that they don’t like minorities.
Hussle was not the only rapper or entertainer to use his wealth to rebuild their communities. Artists like Killer Mike and T.I. have been doing the same thing in their cities for years. Here’s the thing: Conservatives don’t have to like the music. They don’t have to agree with these types of individuals on every issue. But if they are serious about engaging more minority voters, it is crucial that they focus on areas of commonality rather than fixating on differences.
What do you think? Let me know if the comments below.
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