I love Nipsey Hussle. A lot. However, this post isn't about me and all of the ways I am inspired by his actions, words, and legacy. This post is about why I wanted Nipsey Hussle incorporated into my instruction regularly and why he always will be.
Nipsey's whole career was self-made through dedication, hard-work, and patience.
I always tell my students that they can do anything they want, but they have to be dedicated and work-hard. I always tell them that no one can ever take away their determination and hard-work. On the first day of school this year, I noticed the eagerness many of my boys had to learn. They are also eager to argue and do other things that are unfavorable. However, I always notice and emphasize how they truly love to work. They truly take their work seriously. It's beautiful. I love that quality in them and find myself often praying that their love for learning and working hard never leaves them.
Nipsey Hussle is a familiar face to many of my students. He had some of the same struggles that some of them have. He come from similar situations that many of them come from. As Nipsey once said in an interview, the thing that separates him from others pursuing things is the fact that he didn't quit. He released his first mixtape in 2005 and didn't release his first studio album until 2018. Nipsey didn't give up on his dream. He believed in himself and stayed dedicated to his dream and goals. That's exactly what I want all of my students to do. I want them to overcome any challenges that they face in life, so they can live the life they want to live.
Nipsey was more than just music.
My students were familiar with Nipsey Hussle as a rap artist. They knew and liked his music and liked him as a rap artist. Most of what they knew about Nipsey ended there. They didn't know that this cool rapper that they loved was fully devoted to bettering the community he grew up in. They didn't know that he was a business owner and owned multiple businesses. They didn't know the full story of Nipsey being determined to own his master's and not sign for a label in which he had to give up rights. I wanted to make sure that my students knew all that Nipsey did. I wanted them to be able to expand their admiration for him beyond his music and into his philanthropy, advocacy, and businesses.
Nipsey spread love and positivity.
My classes always have a positive classroom culture. My class has been known as "The Clapping Class" and "The Cheering Class". We celebrate everything for everyone. We dance for everything. We make up a rap or song for everything. We constantly cheer each other on. It's normal for my students and I to break out in a "Go _____" dance simply because someone got the answer correct. Or even better, simply because someone tried. This is the type of environment I always create in my classroom. Despite the many arguments and conflicts between my students, they usually can always put their differences to the side to give each other credit and to uplift each other. I teach them that congratulating others does not and can not take away their own shine.
That was exactly what Nipsey was about. He gave credit where credit was due. He frequently acknowledged where he got his inspiration from and he showed love to everyone. He wasn't afraid to promote other people, speak positively about others publicly, and encourage others in conversation daily.
Nipsey Hussle knew his worth!
Self-confidence is everything. I heavily preach to my students that they have to believe in themselves. As I just mentioned, I always give specific, genuine praise and speak positivity into my students. However, I still make sure they understand that the good things that they do is not about receiving recognition. I constantly tell them that they won't always get recognized for every good thing they do and they definitely won't always receive a reward for it (Which is one of the hundreds of reasons why I rarely give my students treats or rewards as extrinsic motivators). They have to see their own potential to do amazing things. They have to celebrate and acknowledge their own small achievements and not depend on anyone else to confirm how great they are. I encourage them to do well, because they deserve it. Not because there will be a reward for it. They deserve to give themselves more knowledge, they deserve to do the things that will help them become better. They deserve that feeling when they've worked hard to achieve something and sacrificed what they wanted to do in a quick moment for something that is going to benefit them in the short and long run. They deserve to be the best version of themselves.
Part of the reason why it was so easy for Nipsey Hussle to see the good in others is because he saw the good in hisself. When you are confident in yourself and know your worth, you don't mind giving credit where credit is due.
Nipsey Hussle has a legacy that will live forever.
Nipsey had many vigils and memorials around the world, a funeral at Staples Center, a 25-mile precession through L.A., and an impact that couldn't be denied by anyone. I don't even think Nipsey knew that his impact would be this great. Nip's legacy will forever live because of the work and who he was when he was alive. I want my students to understand that their actions need to be something that makes the world a better place. I often tell them to think about their contribution to the world and the potential they have to make things better. Nipsey Hussle is the epitome of that. His influence is very widespread. He wasn't perfect at all. None of us are. However, he tried to do things the right way. His way. God's way. He stayed true to himself. He showed love to others. He had a vision and purpose that wasn't just about him, but bettering others. He loved. A lot. He set good examples. He never folded or compromised what he believed in because of what "society" thought. He didn't give up because some people didn't understand his vision. Nipsey stayed true to Nipsey! Because of that, he left a legacy that will never leave. He left memories that will never fade. He left real love that will never die.
He left a lasting impression on a teacher who is committed to making sure all of her students reach their full potential...And that is why Nipsey Hussle's legacy is and will always be some part of my classroom.