Where Do We Go From Here?: When Cultural Champions Die

Today, one of the most prolific trailblazers in cinematic history has left us at just 51 years old. Whether you're a fan of Ryan Coogler, Ava DuVernay, Jordan Peele, F. Gary Gray, or all of the above (just to name a few) John Singleton is your fave's fave. 

In a way that few can master, Singleton: 
  • Told Black stories from an authentically Black perspective
  • Refused to decode certain cultural cues - if you don't get it, then maybe it's not for you
  • Catalyzed the convergence of hip hop culture into film 

His professional blueprint served as a guide for Black and brown creatives across all disciplines as society moved into the new millennium. 

Whether Singleton knew it or not, one person who benefited from this work was none other than Nipsey Hussle.

Among casual followers, Nipsey was best known as a rapper and Lauren London's longtime love. But to those who paid more attention, especially after his horrific murder last month, Nipsey represented economic independence, advancement in education, and relative accessibility in a time of disconnection between stars and the general public. 

Without the sacrifices and triumphs of John Singleton and his successors, it would've been even harder for Nipsey Hussle to realize his power as a Black man in the entertainment industry, and in turn, serve as an inspiration to the newest wave.

Where does this leave us now? When cultural champions die, where do we go from here?

The answer is twofold - One, we show up and show out in our own work. Two, we crystallize those who are still left in our collective memory *and* support their late-stage endeavors. 

Beyoncé is a prime example in the first area. For some reason some of y'all misogynistic anti-Black haters still won't give credit where it's due, but sis is a movement by herself, and a full-fledged force when a team can bring her visions to life. 

On the other side, my favorite podcast, Strong Black Legends (a collaboration between Netflix and Strong Black Lead, hosted by Tracy Clayton) does a great job of giving our creatives their flowers while they can still smell them.

Interested? Watch or listen to Jason Weaver's episode:

There's a lot of discernment that has to be used when it comes to consuming or curating content. 

It's not enough to be passive in what you receive. It's not enough to hope that someone will put you on. It's not enough to look out only for yourself. In times like this, when cultural champions are dying younger and younger, it's not enough. We owe it to them and to ourselves to preserve and manipulate the culture for the better. We are beautifully talented, flawed, complicated, magical, ordinary people. Let's act like we know.

#TMC 🏁


Sometimes people take more than they give to the culture and do not deserve to be revered. We don't separate art from artists over here. I will never be so Blickety Black as to turn my head to horrible actions just because y'all's nasty uncles and aunties wanna keep playing predator music in the function. But that's another post for another day. Be blessed!

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