Rest In Power Afeni Shakur, You Are Appreciated. » VSB

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Rest In Power Afeni Shakur, You Are Appreciated.

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We are having what could be considered one of the Blackest years on record. Larry Wilmore dropping the n-word at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner is peak Blackness no matter what side of the “appropriate” aisle you sit on. In fact, in any other year it’s the runaway winner, except moments prior to that moment, President Obama did an actual, true-to-form mic drop while conjuring Kobe Bryant. The n-word puts Larry over the top for sheer lack of fucks, but the leader of the free world doing a mic drop is spectacular and will be memed to infinity and beyond.

Add in Beyoncé’s Black ass Blackness, Harriet Tubman (and MLK) landing on currency and I’m almost of the belief that we should quite while we’re ahead.

While it’s been a great year to Black, it’s also ALREADY been a year marred by significant tragedy. Signficant Black pop culture deaths that have happened through the first four months of the year include: Vanity, Maurice White from elements known as Earth, Wind & Fire, Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest, Vanity, and Prince.

We can now add Afeni Shakur, Black Panther, activist, and revolutionary, and mother to the hip-hop legend, Tupac Shakur. She passed away on Monday night at the age of 69 at her home in Sausalito, California.

While this news didn’t hit me as hard as the news of Prince passing away – at first – I felt a significant weight come over me. And I think it’s this idea of somebody’s mama passing away. While lots of people pass away that have children, the entire reason that most of us Afeni Shakur is because Tupac made her the most famous mother of hip-hop with his seminal, classic song, “Dear Mama”.

In fact, “Dear Mama” is so classic that it will forever be played on hip-hop stations every Mother’s Day until Earth either ceases to exist or we’re listening to white noise and calling it music, a day that I think could actually come. “Dear Mama” might be the most heartfelt and well-executed tribute to a mother in the entire hip-hop canon, no matter how hard Kanye tries. That song gave me insight into the life of and the love and respect ‘Pac had for his mother. It didn’t let her off the hook for any wrongs, but it also made it clear that those wrongs didn’t matter: mama is mama, always. And mama is always where the heart lies.

I heard this song on the radio and it made me a little misty. And it’s because of the video. The video opens up with Afeni talking about nearly having Tupac in jail – she was part of the Panther 21, look them up – and how she managed to get out of jail right before birthing Tupac. The video takes you through their ups and downs, life and times, made even more amazing because Tupac was in jail at the time the song was released. It STILL managed to resonate soundly despite him not even being in the video to express his love for her. She’s featured throughout, looking at pictures and doing that thing that mothers do when they’re proud of you.

There’s a scene at 1:27 where she’s watching the “I Get Around” video and she kind of cocks her head to the side with a smile in one of those, “look at this boy with his shirt off, but that’s my boy” looks. Because she was so prominently featured, and because to know Tupac was to know that his mother was Afeni and to know what he came from, placed her front and center in hip-hop. After the death of Biggie, we all came to know Voletta Wallace, but something about the legacy of Tupac loomed larger. She, as the gatekeeper of what felt like an endless supply of music and footage, managed to try to do as much as humanly possible to keep her son’s legacy alive and respected, even going so far as to open the Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

Afeni was Tupac’s mother, but she kind of held this interesting slot as a “hip-hop” mother even if her role was very far into the background, or a far back as you can be being the mother of one of the greatest icons of hip-hop.

And because she was so prominent in that role, it saddened me greatly to hear that she passed. Watching “Dear Mama” and realizing, now, that this is a song from a young man who would die a year after it’s release, to his now deceased mother, two people whose presence was felt by the entire community, even though he passed away 20 years ago. Afeni made sure that her son would never die in vain, and now that she’s gone, one can only hope that the estate does as good a job at preserving his legacy as she’s done.

Rest in power, Afeni Shakur. In the words that I will always associate with you, “you are appreciated.”

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • OSHH

    Beautiful piece. God bless her soul.

  • Dana Naildiva Bowman

    ‘Fists to the Sky’
    Have a peaceful journey, Sister Shakur.

  • Betty’s Babygirl

    Panama your piece says it all both powerfully and beautifully. #afeniresilient #warriorwoman

  • Skegeeaces

    Why must I cry? Great article, man.

    Also, my eyes went Bernie Mac when I read “20 years ago”. #DangImOld

    • RewindingtonMaximus

      Come September…it will be 20 years. It’s crazy.

      • Time marches on. Man that era was kinda dumb.

        • RewindingtonMaximus

          So many mistakes were made.

          • In hindsight, no one really understood what money to do to hip hop. Say what you will, but the more underground cultures didn’t go as far off the rails. People had street mentalities with Hollywood money, and that’s where keeping it real went real wrong.

            • RewindingtonMaximus

              The worst part is how much of a mystery both deaths turned out to be. They are literally unsolved crimes.

      • miss t-lee

        I still remember not believing that he was dead. Especially since he’d gotten shot before and had survived.

        • RewindingtonMaximus

          I didn’t know what to think. My whole class got up and said RIP while putting the peace sign in the air

          • PhlyyPhree

            I thought it was a joke. As I did a few months later when Biggie passed also. I couldn’t believe these things were real. I lowkey still dont.

            • RewindingtonMaximus

              It’s because they were so young, and because it was so violent. Local people got shot all the time but for a big time celebrity like those two to be murdered…it just never registered properly.

          • miss t-lee

            Wow.

        • KB

          I was 14 years old, in 8th grade when my boy came over to our apartment that night to tell us he had passed. This was disheartening because we all assumed he would survive since he made it through the first shooting. I remember all night we listened to all of his music. RIP PAC, RIP AFENI

          • miss t-lee

            I was 18. Loved Pac, after he’d made it through the first time, he was larger than life. I think MTV broke the news and then we had to soak in the truth.

            • Certain celebs we just see as damn near invincible. I was like ” he might be ok…,”

              • miss t-lee

                So true.

      • TeeChantel

        Crazy. It feels like it happened yesterday.

        • RewindingtonMaximus

          I still remember I was in 7th grade lunch period when I heard about it the day after…I remember what I was wearing….jeez

          • TeeChantel

            I was in 8th grade at the time. Everybody in school talked about what happened. I remember my brother crying after he heard the news because he was a big Tupac fan. For a while I didn’t want to believe he was dead and sometimes I still don’t believe it. Every one in a while I look back at the picture that was taken just moments before he was shot and it still haunts me.

            • RewindingtonMaximus

              It is very haunting. We were so young back then. The concept of death for someone young was real weird to us, cause only old people died.

              And if you think about it…Pac was 24. 24! All of the things he did, and then he died, and he was only 24! That’s unreal.

  • miss t-lee

    Great article.
    I had totally forgotten about Pac being in jail during this video until you reminded me. That’s how great that video was. They managed to make me forget the reason why he wasn’t there live and in the flesh. I’ve read a few article that have denounced her as just Pac’s Mama. However, Afeni Shakur has a great revolutionary story all her own.
    I remember his rhymes about being in jail before he was even born, and that always stuck with me.

    • PhlyyPhree

      This. I was irritated with everyone who said “Oh RIP to Tupac’s mom”.
      Yes that is a great thing and she did her best raising him, however she was a very extraordinary woman on her own and I appreciate her for that too. First.

      • miss t-lee

        Agreed.

      • Janelle Doe

        I hope she has a really good actress play her in the movie ( and that Wendy Williams doesn’t produce said movie ijs)

  • Kenyatta

    She finally gets to see him again rest peacefully sister

  • Asiyah

    She gave him such a powerful name. Speaks to her own strength. Rest in peace, dear mama.

    • True Story. The original Tupac Amaru was a major bada$$.

  • She really was the hip hop mama for the generation. RIP, mama.

  • she was a marvelous woman who was committed near her entire life to helping and investing in black people.

  • brothaskeeper

    Rest In Infinite and Beautiful Peace, Afeni.

    Can we petition that the Reaper ease back on his quota? It’s only May.

    • The reaper is paying us back for every Black @ss moment.

      • brothaskeeper

        We are sooooooooooooo sorry!

        • Sandraganderson1

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        • Janisrcohen

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    • Val

      For real, 2016 has been emotionally draining.

      • Janelle Doe

        Agreed.

      • Tambra

        Leap year hun.

    • Like frfr…

    • PDL – Cape Girl

      He’s got orders…..

      • brothaskeeper

        He got the 2038 database mixed up with the 2016 database. Dis tew much.

        • PDL – Cape Girl

          I hear ya

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