What Tupac Taught Me: 19 Reflections on the 20th Anniversary

Today makes 20 years since Tupac Shakur passed away after sustaining life-threatening gunshot wounds in a drive-by shooting. At 19 years old, I attribute a majority of my wisdom and perspective to him. In his honor, I’ve decided to share 19 very important tips/pieces of info that I’ve learned over the course of my life thanks to the GOAT, Tupac Amaru Shakur.buohatncmaavlld

“I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.” – Tupac Shakur

1 . Your legacy should live on forever: During his very short career, Tupac was adamant about creating a legacy. He knew that his efforts would not be in vain and would remain relevant and real well after he died. Similarly, I want to create a legacy that stands the test of time. Like so many people before me, I have a desire to live, even in death.

2. Content is key. Keep producing and creating, consistently: Tupac was notorious for his work ethic, often times locking himself inside of a recording studies and completing whole albums before leaving.

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3. My body is mine in every way, all ways, always: In his classic record, Keep Your Head Up, Tupac questioned, “And since we all came from a woman, got our name from a woman and our game from a woman, I wonder why we take from our women, Why we rape our women, do we hate our women?tumblr_n15fzhfohd1tq0lneo1_500I remember being really young when I first asked what that line was in reference to and since then, I’ve been adamant about advocating for Black women’s body automy and sexual self-expression on their own terms. His relationships with his mother and sister are essentially the reason why he was serious about Black women being treated as royalty and nothing less. A person’s body belongs to them and only them and no other being has the right to take that away.


4. Latasha Harlins:
Latasha Harlins was born July 14, 1975 in Chicago, IL. She was only 15 years old at the time of her death in Compton, CA. Latasha’s life seemed like a series of unfortunate events: she was 8 years old when her mother died during a ‘drunken brawl’ and 9 years old when she was abandoned by her father. Latasha was raised by her Grandmother Ruth Harlins and lived like many young Black children: in an urban area with a lack of financial, education, political and cultural resources.

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Like many Black girls her age (and younger), she was exposed to an immense amount of physical and sexual violence. Due to her environment, Latasha who was initially a strong honor student began to struggle in school. She had increasingly violent outbursts (one notable incident occurred at the dinner table when Latasha threw a fork at her sister and blinded her in one eye) and was dating a man 14 years older (29 yrs.) Latasha’s death made (some) headlines considering the racial/gendered climate. She was shot in the back of the head on Saturday- March 16, 1991 by Soon Ja Du, a Korean store owner who believed she was stealing. Natasha frequented the store, unbeknownst to Soon Ja Du, whose husband ran the front counter. Tupac honored her in several songs referencing her untimely, unjustified death in relation to the state of Black affairs in our country.

1dc75ea82f5ee7c38c624cb44260a0e15.  “If you can’t find something to live for, you best find something to die for.”- Tupac Shakur: For many people, finding a purpose is so difficult that it often times seems to be the purpose itself. When Tupac suggested finding something you lay down your life for, I immediately know what my life’s purpose was. I’m willing to die for Black girls, Black women and Black femmes. And while I’m alive, I’ll live my life to the fullest while making sure they do too.

6. “The power is in the people and politics we address.” – Tupac Shakur: Understanding your political power is imperative. As Tupac famously interrogated, “How can Reagan live in a White House which has a lot of rooms and there be homelessness? And he’s talking about helping homelessness.

“It’s like, you hungry, you reached your level. We asked ten years ago. We was asking with the Panthers. We was asking with them, the Civil Rights Movement. We was asking. Those people that asked are dead and in jail. So now what do you think we’re gonna do? Ask?” – Tupac Shakur

7. “…You always was a Black Queen, Mama.” – Tupac Shakur: My mom has always been my foundation, my strength and my support, just like Afeni Shakur was for Tupac. Tupac’s  mother was his friend, his confidant, his manager and a soldier. Black mothers are the standard for what motherhood looks like. It is the devotion to nurturing, proving and loving unconditionally. #RIPAfeniShakur

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8. “And if he can’t learn to love you, you should leave him.” – Tupac Shakur

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Honestly….. enough said.

9. “My whole goal is to just make them ashamed that they wrote me off like that.”/ “AGAINST ALL ODDS, I WILL PREVAIL.”: There is no better revenge than success. While many people will only doubt your inevitable success, some will actively work to stop you from achieving your destiny

10. “I find any great man, black or white, I’m going to study him, learn him so he can’t be great to me no more.” Self explanatory.

11. “I have no patience for anybody who doubts me, none at all.”: There is no ounce of patience within me to converse, entertain or spend time with people

12. Hip Hop is Black Culture. Black Culture is ours.: The commodification of Blackness has been and will continue to be an issue as long as we are living, creating and simply, being. Hip Hop was created to express sentiments of those within our community. It is uniquely and organically Black and therefore it is ours.

13. Know your history. Know their history.: It is extremely important to have knowledge of self, it is also important to know your oppressor. Tupac had an immense amount of knowledge and an increased commitment to Black radicalism. Not only did he know his history as a Black man, he knew about white supremacy/misogynoir and other systems in place to dismantle non-white racial groups.

14. BE CAREFUL WHO YOU TRUST: Tupac lived with a lingering sense of paranoia due to his inability to trust many of the people around him.

15. If you don’t like it, change it.: The best way to create change is to be it. Tupac embodied this sentiment in every way. While one person can’t change the world, small acts of kindness and charity are enough to spark change.

16. Speak Your Truth No Matter What: Tupac’s entire essence was deeply rooted in truth and expression. He spoke his truth at all times, especially when it seemed to be the most difficult. His “THUG LIFE” acronym is evidence of the fact that sometimes the truth that needs to be heard, is harsh and unfiltered.

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17. It’s just me against the world.

18. Black girls matter:  

19. And then there’s always this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14a3JNCWsO0

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