Thug Life Revisited/ Thug Life Reimagined

ThugLifeRevisitedReimagined

Thug Life Revisited

As I sat alone in a darkened theater with the anticipation of a child being strapped into a seat waiting for a monster size roller coaster to take off, I eagerly waited for the movie “The Hate U Give” to begin. I watched the previews for the film and I followed via social media the intentional education centered campaign to promote the movie and celebrate the book that inspired the movie. I was ready to be emotional in my silence and to be stimulated to action through tears that would water the seeds of love that the Lord has planted inside of me for the plight of teenagers and my community. I hadn’t read the book or knew much of anything about the Author Angie Davis before seeing the movie, so I was in for a treat when a dominant theme presented itself in the movie that drew me on a very professional and personal level.

This theme is the ideology that was coined “Thug Life” by Tupac Shakur. The phrase’s popularity and enduring quality in some sense shined brighter than what Tupac was communicating through these two words, eight letters and a reality that continues to exist more than 20 years after his death in 1996. Thug Life according to Tupac stands for The Hate U Give Little Infants F&@k Everybody. This theme is at the center of the film and the book and it stirs up the embodiment of Tupac Shakur in a way that transcends Tupac the artist to Tupac the social commentary philosopher and fore teller for what the plight of our community will be because of “Thug Life.”

Now to everyone who is put off by the breakdown of the word “Life” let’s not allow a profane word to derail our thinking from examining the premise that Tupac was communicating. If we focus on the way, we treat our children as a litmus test for examining our values and beliefs as a society then we can look at Thug Life and see more than enough validity to have a conversation. I will even venture to look at the warning expressed around the mistreatment of children in the words of Jesus Christ in Matthew 18:6 “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!” Jesus was speaking about misleading a child of God but in an earlier verse He states that to fully believe in Him we must come to Him like a child. Think of a child’s innocence, imagination, and intrigue in the natural, this how Christ wants us to come and belief in Him. The use of “child” as descriptive state of being and relationship is one that I am standing on when drawing a connection to the warning in the scriptures to the warning given by Tupac.

Thug Life Reimagined

“The Hate U Give” examines hatred coming from various directions and this is key because it is not just an us versus them whereas we are the sole recipients of hate and don’t have the capacity to give hate ourselves. When I finished watching the movie and meditating on what I watched and what I believe I began to reimagine Thug Life to identify where forms of hatred comes from that are impacting our children and youth. The reimagining of Thug Life is not one where I plan on reciting sources, data points and headlines to prove its validity. I simply want you to take a moment and think about where we stand as a society when it comes to how a growing number of our black and brown children in lower economic communities are impacted by the various institutions and people that operate within the ecosystems of their lives to the point where their ability to be their full selves are stifled.

Thug Life: The Hate U Give Limiting Insights From Education

If we think about the inequities as far as resources made available to schools based on zip codes and funding allocation formulas coupled with the perceptions of black and brown children embodied by and acted upon by predominately white educators and administrators; is it a stretch to view this as a form of hatred?  When our black and brown children don’t see reflections of themselves in the wide array of fields of study that are available to them to pursue and when their knowledge and brilliance is often undervalued; is a stretch to view this as form of hatred?  When education is presented as the key to unlock the doors of opportunity, but the locks and the doors are changing faster than a new key of education can be created in the hood; is it a stretch to view this as a form of hatred?

Thug Life: The Hate U Give Limiting Insights From Entertainment

If we think about the honesty and vulnerability that is embedded in the God given ability to create that then gets bastardized in its capitalistic packing and purpose to shape the ideals and identities of a targeted community under the moniker of entertainment; is it a stretch to view this is as a form of hatred?  When the marketplace dictates that there can only be a very limited number of women voices in Hip-Hop that are successful at a given moment, thus creating an unhealthy form of competition; is it a stretch to view this as a form of hatred?   When contrived creative expressions over saturates the developing minds of our youth to the point where it is difficult for them to see themselves through a non-entertainment lens; is it a stretch to view this as a form of hatred?

Thug Life: The Hate U Give Limiting Insights From Enforcement

If we think about how the instincts of enforcement often begin with aggression when engaging black and brown youth regardless of the setting where they interact with these youth; is it a stretch to view this as a form of hatred?  When fear can override training in the hood and allowances are given selectively to people in select communities; is it a stretch to view this as a form of hatred?  When the system treats drug use as a crime in one community in one era and treats drug use as a health issue in a different community today; is it a stretch to view this as a form of hatred?

Thug Life: The Hate U Give Limiting Insights From Environments

If we think about the differing landscapes and amenities within varying communities that can often be differentiated by race/ethnicity and income; is it a stretch to view this as a form of hatred?  When we think about the continuing water crisis in Flint Michigan that has seemingly slid to obscurity based on its place in the news cycle; is it a stretch to view this as a form of hatred?  If we compare the access to healthy food eateries, supermarkets, specialty stores and restaurants by zip codes within various cities; is it a stretch to view this as a form of hatred?

As Tupac stated, The Hate U Give Little Infants F@#k Everybody

Peace!

Timothy Jones @tdj6899

 

The Unity In Community

We are living in perilous times and two things that we have the power to change and control, that are magnifying the negative impact of these particular times over others that we have endured as a people is the lack of unity and true functionality of the church. I am grateful to be a part of a community that has been able to stay connected through various methods and I am excited about what greater works we can do together as a community. In Acts 2:44-45 it states “44 now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.” This passage represents the methodology of the people who received the gospel from Peter after the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. I want to focus on the sense of unity and community that is clearly described because these concepts are vital to our survival during these times that we are living in regardless of your spiritual beliefs.

People are hurting and are searching to find their way for themselves and their children and it is the role of the church to play its part in serving the people in their greatest hour of need. This work of the church was stating best by Jesus Christ in Luke 4:18 where He states “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;” We all know someone who is poor and or has experienced poverty in resources, faith and or in spirit. We all know someone who has experienced a broken heart. We all know someone who has been seemingly held captive by the circumstances of life to the point where they live in a prison where the bars are made out of perceived reality instead of steel. We all know someone who has become so short sighted based on what they see today that they can’t see tomorrow being any different so they live in a state of blindness because they have no hope. We all know someone who has experienced feeling oppressed because life has made it almost too difficult for them to believe in their God given capacity to allow their perception to ignite the changes that are necessary for them to address the issues within their lives. In addition to all of us knowing someone who has experienced these states of mind, circumstance and emotions, we all may have dealt with and are dealing with these ourselves and for some of us, even as we read this letter.

I am a Minister at The Believers Worship Center in Upper Marlboro, MD and we are in the process of renovating a building so that we can be in a position to impact the community the way the church once did for our parents and for some our grandparents. I have also been laboring as a youth worker and educator for over the past 18 years and through this work (ministry) I have been blessed to meet many of you that I am sending this letter. For some of you, our paths crossed before I truly gave my life to Christ and you have been a witness to the testimony of what Christ has done in my life. I am asking that you help impact a community that is in need by contributing $25, $50 or any amount that you may have avail to assist us in this effort. You can make your contribution by going to http://www.tbwc.org/giving.html . I know that you have all heard of church fundraisers and have sadly become skeptical of its purpose and impact. I am asking for you to contribute based on the example of Christ that you can see in the work that I have been able to do and believe that I am part of a ministry that will make a difference. The goal of my church is to be an example for other churches to emulate by following the scriptures that outline how the church should interact with and serve the community as a whole. If you are led to contribute, please select “building fund raiser” and include my name so that we can keep track of who you are giving on behalf of because we are all reaching out to family and friends in an effort to complete this work.

If you are not able to contribute at this time, I totally understand. I want to thank you for taking the time to read this letter and know that if you are reading this letter, it is because I prayed for direction in who to send this letter to and prayed for whoever reads it to be blessed as they meditate on these words. I know that in your own way you are all making a positive impact on your community and this is the energy that has kept us connected and or connected us virtually (for my social media family). This is me taking a step out on faith in asking that you join me in making a natural and spiritual impact. There are infinite lessons available to us when we reflect back as a community and evaluate how we made it over when the enemy wanted us dead, we not only survived, we persevered and thrived.

In Love for our people,

Timothy