This is post #1 in a series that will talk a little about women, homeless people, Muslims, rappers, and everyone in between. Our one and only goal is to show that no matter where you come from, and no matter where you end up, you are a human being with so much to offer. I decided that we should start off with someone whose music I have never really listened to, but whom I have read quite a bit about as an activist. You may have heard of him:

Tupac Shakur

Tupac was a threat to the stereotypes perpetuated about black men and black culture, and that’s really something that my generation doesn’t see too much of in popular culture anymore. There was, and still is, such a stigma about African American men; People say that they are inherently violent, bound to end up incarcerated for committing crimes, that they aren’t intelligent and they don’t care about school. Tupac took this stigma and turned it around, understanding that the system was set to fail him and his community. He knew that if a well-read, intellectual, talented, black man like himself was most likely going to end up in jail, then there was really no hope for any other black man.

I didn’t know much about Tupac other than that he was a famous rapper, but I understand now , after much research, that to many people, he was much more than that. He was living proof for a whole community that dropping out, being homeless, being part of a minority that was discriminated against, and coming from a broken home did not have to mean failure. He inspired his friend Syke, along with some others, to learn about famous leaders in history whom Tupac nicknamed his friends after. Tupac managed to be well-educated in a world that told him he couldn’t be, and he managed to educate others along the way.

I think it says a lot that my generation really doesn’t have a “Tupac” to look up to. There are hardly any rappers who are as brilliant as Tupac was, and willing to write about hardships and racism and failure of the system quite the way he did. This reading made me considerSince learning about Tupac, I’ve considered that even though many people are fighting battles for social justice right now, no one was able to make the battle as mainstream as Tupac did, while also making sure people got educated about the issues. After reading that many of his old friends thought Tupac’s work deserved its own class, I did some research and found that Harvard, Berkeley, UW, and a few other universities did, in fact, offer courses on his writing and his life.

It is known that Tupac wanted to use his fame “to get young people to think about and learn about some things they might not otherwise (consider).” I think this is still so relevant considering that young black men are not only worried about coming off cool and sometimes perpetuating the thug stereotype, but they are also victim to more rigid expectations of their masculinity. They don’t want to read poetry or listen to classical or country music, but there is no one who fits their persona who is encouraging them to try something new and stop worrying about what role society wants them to play. Tupac was a true hero to any struggling community that society perpetuated stereotypes against, because he broke through them and came out successful.

Some facts:

His mother was part of the Black Panther Party

He took roles in many stage productions, as well as attended ballet classes

He dated Madonna

He was a fan of Shakespeare and well-versed in his works

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