Things That Matter

Tupac Represented For Latinos With Lyrics Like ‘It Wouldn’t Be L.A. Without Mexicans,’ But Here’s Why We Really Loved Him

An entire generation of rappers have come and gone since Tupac Shakur’s 1996 fatal shooting occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada, but the legacy of the slain icon has continued long after his death.

Among many things, history will remember Tupac as someone who almost single-handedly — because of a beef with Notorious B.I.G. — ignited a rap feud between two coasts during the height of the gangster rap era. He’ll also be remembered as one of the most successful rappers in history with a number of platinum albums and thousands of unreleased songs that continue to fill the radio airwaves across the United States.

But while his influence was universal, Latinos were especially drawn to Tupac’s music and made up one of his most loyal fan bases in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, and Phoenix.

CREDIT: Credit: 2Pac/Instagram

Like many other Latinos who grew up in L.A. during the early 1990s, I, too, was completely consumed by Tupac’s music.

He was the first voice I listened to when I turned the radio on in the morning, and the last voice I heard at the end of a day when I fell asleep listening to his music on my Sony Walkman.

Tupac was a lot of things to different people: He was the best friend who had your back the time Jose and his boys tried to jump you behind McDonalds, the friend who urged you to ditch school every Friday, and, of course, the friend who always seemed to have wisdom far beyond their age.

But he was far from perfect.

Like any other popular figure, Tupac was a complex person with undeniable shortcomings.

He was just as likely to refer to women as  b***** as he was to refer to them as queens. He was an advocate for peace between communities of color while firing back at rivals with threats of physical violence.

As a result, his songs reflected the multiple layers of his personality.

“He was an advocate for peace between communities of color while firing back at rivals with threats of physical violence.”

Songs like “Keep Your Head Up” and “Changes” uplifted us whenever we had a problem at home or school. “Hail Mary” is what you listened to when you finally got the nerve to confront Jose and his crew after school for attempting to jump you behind McDonalds. And “Dear Mama” helped us celebrate the way our mothers always found ways to provide for us beyond their means.

But as I noticed then, and continue to see, I was never alone in my love for Tupac.

Tupac, however, made it very clear about who his message was directed to. His music continued the legacy of African-American artists whose music was tailored for African-Americans in inner city communities who were facing multiple forms of discrimination.

CREDIT: Credit: 2Pac/Instagram

Still, Latinos often worked and lived in similar neglectful conditions, which created shared frustrations.

We’ll never know the moment Tupac started to understand the importance of Latinos to U.S. society, but we can estimate that living in Los Angeles gave him an idea, particularly when he paid homage to Latinos in his hit song, “To Live and Die in L.A.,” claiming that it “wouldn’t be L.A. without Mexicans, black love, brown pride, in the sets again.”

For Los Angeles-based poet Angela Aguirre, 29, it was songs like “To Live and Die in L.A.” that helped her build connections with African Americans in her community and helped her understand that his message was also intended for Chicanas.   

“Seeing how hard he rode for the black community empowered me to ride equally as hard for mine,” she explained to me over email. “I had always been an outspoken Chicana, but Tupac’s music came out during my formative years and the politically conscious nature of that music influenced me to be more conscious of the same types of oppression that he spoke about.”

The 1990s, as Aguirre explains, were, in fact, a particularly challenging time for Latinos in California.

CREDIT: Credit: Tumblr

Border security was being tightened up, police were targeting Latinos in inner cities, and state bills like proposition 209 and 187 negatively impacted the economic and social conditions of Latinos throughout the state.

In addition, we were still living in an era where Latinos were often excluded from mainstream conversations of race.

As a result, Tupac’s lyrics often resonated with Latinos because he gave a growing, and often invisible part of the U.S. population, a vocabulary to express frustration, fears, and hopes for the future.

“Tupac was a lot of things,” Aguirre continued, “which is why I fucked with him so heavy. He was so multidimensional and complex as a person and an artist. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t problematic or even misogynistic at times, but because of his upbringing, Tupac was woke before ‘woke’ was even a thing and the most appealing thing about him was his sincerity.”

What made Tupac’s appeal even more far-reaching, I believe, was that his message also impacted Latinos outside of major California cities like, Mikael Rojas, who grew up in state of Washington, and Alejandro Sanchez-Lopez, 28, who grew up in Ensenada, Mexico.  

“Tupac was one of the most important people in my life,” explained, Rojas, a native of Yakima, Washington. “He said it was OK to be a minority and it connected with me even though I lived in rural Washington.”

“….Tupac’s lyrics often resonated with Latinos because he gave a growing, and often invisible part of the U.S. population, a vocabulary to express frustration, fears, and hopes for the future.”

Sanchez-Lopez, who grew up in Mexico, had a similar connection to Tupac.

“I didn’t even know what he was saying the first time I heard his music,” he explained, “but I knew how his voice made me feel.”

That Tupac was able to connect with fans and listeners outside of Los Angeles and other major West Coast cities should come to no surprise given the way his music was able to transcend race, sex, gender, and class. 

For people like Anaheim, California, native, Jesus Cortez, 37, however, Tupac’s song, “Life Goes On,” represented a form of therapy that helped him cope with the death of two of his friends which he lost to street violence.

“That song helped me get me through and helped me maintain my level of sanity,” he explained to me from his home in Anaheim. “I had just lost two good friends of mine to the streets and he said that life goes on even if you lose your homies.”

“My mind was all over the place and I was able to focus and he got me through.”

For Cortez, who like Tupac, was also raised by a single mother, life often presented challenges for him and his family, Tupac’s song, “Dear Mama,” helped him understand that being a single mother and raising a male teenager was no easy task.

CREDIT: Credit: Instagram/@independent_quotes5 and @2pac

“I was growing up with me and my mom and “Dear Mama” hit home because nobody had talked about their mom like that before in a song. We all loved our moms even though they were sometimes flawed. And a lot of us were growing up in broken homes and he made it OK to say ‘I love my mama.’”

“Dear Mama” indeed brought families closer together and allowed men to express their feelings towards their mothers in a vulnerable way, but Tupac’s legacy also inspired a generation of his fans who named their children in honor of his legacy.

Peruvian-American, Ana del Rocio, 31, grew up in California during the height of Tupac’s career and named her son, Tupac Amaru, in honor of the the rapper’s career and his namesake: Incan general Tupac Amaru II, who led revolts against the Spanish.

“What he stood for — revolution, poetic lyricism, and building up mothers and women of color — inspired me so much that I named my first child Tupac Amaru,” she described from her home in Portland, Oregon where she works as a policy director. “I chose the name to honor both the artist and the indigenous Peruvian warrior-chiefs, my ancestors, that Tupac Shakur was named after.”

“I see so many powerful warrior legacies living and breathing in my son every day, and it gives me so much hope for our resistance as a people.”

CREDIT: Credit: http://celebsofcolor.tumblr.com/post/162942657842/kendrick-lamar-for-interview-magazine and http://caballooscuro.tumblr.com/post/74791927343

Del Rocio reminds us that while Tupac may have directly impacted her life in the 1990s, the legacy of his impact continues in the next generation of Latinos like her son, who will continue to carry his name and his message.

In the same vein, Tupac also inspired an entire generation of west coast rappers like, Compton native, Kendrick Lamar, whose autobiographical albums, “Good Kid M.A.A.D City,” and, “To Pimp A Butterfly,” have individual songs, which continue Tupac’s message about black-brown unity.

Latinos, today, are often drawn to Kendrick’s music for many of the same reasons: sincere, heady, and jarring depictions of the human experience. But, more importantly, Kendrick understands, like Tupac did over twenty-years ago, that Latinos are an important part of U.S. society that continue to grow in size and influence as each day passes. 

READ: Cardi B Reminds Us That Latinos Have A Complicated Relationship To The N-Word

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Family Sets Up GoFundMe To Help Paletero In Chicago Retire

Things That Matter

Family Sets Up GoFundMe To Help Paletero In Chicago Retire

Michaelangelo Mosqueda / GoFundMe

Every now and then there is a video or some news that bubbles up through the noise that makes you feel good. There’s another one of those stories coming out of Chicago thanks to a family helping a local paletero.

A viral video shows a family buying a paletero’s entire cooler of paletas.

The family wanted to help the paletero finish his work for the day because it was Father’s Day. After buying him out, the family decided to go one further for the older mand and set up a GoFundMe to help him retire for the life of selling paletas. Don Rosario, the paletero in the video, is 70 years old and is a staple of the East Side community in Chicago.

A GoFundMe for his retirement is raising a lot of money to help him out.

Selling paletas is exhausting work. Walking around all day long in the heat while trying to sell paletas is a demanding job. This family is taking it on themselves to help Rosario finally retire from the work so he can rest and enjoy his golden years.

There was so much love for Rosario that the fundraiser had to be closed and then reopened.

The family who set up the GoFundMe closed the fundraiser at one point, according to an update. This is because they were waiting to get his contact info and the fundraiser has exploded to more than $40,000. Then, after getting the info and enough interest to keep donating, the fundraiser was reopened. If you want to add to Rosario’s growing pot, you can click here.

The act of kindness that started on Father’s Day is still going and giving people hope.

These are dark times. We are still battling a virus. The U.S. is being forced to finally confront centuries of racial inequality. There are so many things happening that can make us mad. However, stories like these remind us that there is still so much good happening out there.

This is a ray of light in a world that is often so confusing right now.

“We’ve been left speechless, there were people from all over the states donating,” Michaelangelo Mosqueda, the GoFundMe creator, told Block Club Chicago. “It has been really eye-opening to see that when we all come together we do some great things for others.”

READ: Starbucks Barista Who Told A Karen To Wear A Mask Receives More Than $49k In Tips

Three Other Minneapolis Police Charged In George Floyd’s Murder, Chauvin’s Murder Charge Upgraded

Things That Matter

Three Other Minneapolis Police Charged In George Floyd’s Murder, Chauvin’s Murder Charge Upgraded

Stephen Maturen / Getty Images

Update June 3, 2020, 12:17 p.m. PST: Protests for justice for George Floyd have continued unabated for a week across the country. The protests are having an effect on the investigation into the murder of George Floyd and Attorney General Keith Ellison is pursuing more charges.

Senator Amy Klobuchar broke the news on Twitter about the new charges being filed in George Floyd’s death.

Sen. Klobuchar represents Minnesota and has received criticism over her tenure as the Hennepin County district attorney. Sen. Klobuchar did not seek charges against fired police officer Derek Chauvin in a 2006 police-involved shooting. Chauvin is the man seen in the video kneeling on George Floyd’s neck.

After a week of sustained and growing protests across the country, AG Ellison is upgrading Chauvin’s charges from third-degree murder to second-degree murder and the three other officers in the video will be charged with aiding and abating second-degree murder.

“This is a bittersweet moment for the family of George Floyd,” reads a statement by George Floyd’s family and their attorney Benjamin Crump in a joint statement. “We are deeply gratified that Attorney General Keith Ellison took decisive action in this case, arresting and charging all the officers involved in George Floyd’s death and upgrading the charge against Derek Chauvin to felony second-degree murder.”

Update June 1, 2020, 2:00 p.m. PST: An independent autopsy paid for by George Floyd’s family has found that he died as a result of asphyxiation. The announcement comes after days of unrest across the country that has attracted international attention and support.

An independent autopsy conducted at the request of George Floyd’s family claims that his death was a homicide.

According to multiple reports, an independent autopsy on George Floyd found that he died as a result of “homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain.”

According to the autopsy conducted by Dr. Michael Baden and Dr. Allecia Wilson, Floyd died at the scene from the weight of the officers on top of him. His being handcuffed and his positioning on the ground by the cops contributed to his death.

“What we found is consistent with what people saw,” Dr. Baden said in an emailed release, according to HuffPost. “There is no other health issue that could cause or contribute to the death. Police have this false impression that if you can talk, you can breathe. That’s not true.”

Minneapolis officials have not released a full report on the medical examiner’s autopsy. However, officials have made it a point to say that there was no evidence that Floyd died of asphyxiation from the officer kneeling on his back and neck.

The country has witnessed ongoing protests since the video of Floyd’s death circulated on social media. Derek Chauvin, the police officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck, has been arrested and charged with Floyd’s death. Protesters are demanding that the three other officers, who have been fired, be arrested for assisting and contributing to Floyd’s death.

Original: George Floyd is the latest Black man killed by the police. The Minneapolis resident was allegedly trying to pass a counterfeit $20 when police were called. The resulting arrest and death were captured on video and have gone viral on social media. Stephen Jackson, one of Floyd’s closest friends is rallying support against the police officers responsible.

Fired police officer Derek Chauvin has been arrested for George Floyd’s death.

The news broke on the morning of May 29 the fired police officer Chauvin was arrested for Floyd’s death. Black leaders gathered at Minneapolis City Hall and cautiously celebrated the news of justice. Organizers and community members are not satisfied with one arrest. Protesters and organizers are calling for all of the officers involved in Floyd’s death to be arrested. He is being charged with thrid-degree murder and manslaughter.

Floyd’s arrested sparked national outrage and reignited the “I Can’t Breathe” protests. The death of Floyd reminded people or Eric Garner who told police he couldn’t breathe when he was killed in 2014.

Minneapolis has faced mounting pressure from around the country as protests have sprung up demanding justice. The nation has been watching images of Minneapolis on social media and news channels.

Stephen Jackson, a former NBA player and Floyd’s best friend, has taken to social media to grieve and organize.

Jackson took to Instagram when he first learned about Floyd’s death. Jackson shared that Floyd had moved to Minnesota to get his life back on track. Floyd was working as a truck driver and was changing his life, according to Jackson.

“This is what I’ve got to wake up to. This is what I’ve got to wake up to, huh? Floyd was my brother, man,” Jackson says in the video. “We called each other twin, bro. Everybody knows that me and Floyd called each other twin.”

Jackson adds: “My boy was doing what he was supposed to do and y’all killed my brother, man. I’m on my way to Minnesota, man. Whatever I can do. I can’t let this ride, dawg. Y’all not going to be mad until this hits your front door. It’s bullshit.”

The sentiment has been echoed by supporters of Floyd who are seeking justice.

Surveillance footage released from a restaurant where the arrest took place shows a different story than what was originally reported by the police. The police officers at the scene claimed that Floyd was resisting arrest and that that was when the officers attacked. According to released surveillance video, Floyd was not resisting arrest.

The four officers involved in the death have been fired from the Minneapolis Police Department, but people are demanding justice.

Protests have popped up across the country as people demand justice for Floyd’s death. Derek Chauvin, the police officer identified as the man who knelt on Floyd’s neck till he died, has 18 complaints against him for excessive force. Protesters are demanding the Chauvin face charges for the death of Floyd.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who ran for the Democratic nomination, has been called out for not filing charges against Chauvin in the past.

Chauvin has a long record of excessive force and Sen. Klobuchar seemingly ignored it. According to The Guardian, Chauvin was involved in a police shooting of an unarmed man in 2006. Sen. Klobuchar was the Hennepin county attorney at the time and did not bring charges against Chauvin for his involvement in the 2006 shooting. Instead, the case went to a grand jury in 2008 where it was determined that no charges would be brought against the officers involved.

As of now, there are no plans from the police department to bring charges against the four former officers.

Mike Freeman, Hennepin County’s current attorney, told the press that there was evidence that supported the police officers. Freeman said that while the video is graphic, there is evidence supporting that the police did not commit a crime in the arrest.

The mayor of Minneapolis is pushing to Hennepin county attorney Mike Freeman to file charges.

“There are precedents and protocols sitting in the reserves of institutions just like this one that will give you about a thousand reasons not to do something,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey told the press. “Not to speak out. Not to act so quickly. And I’ve wrestled with, more than anything else over the last 36 hours, one fundamental question: ‘Why is the man who killed George Floyd, not in jail?’

Other Hennepin County officials have expressed a similar concern. The pressure is mounting on the Minneapolis Police Department to arrest the officers involved in Floyd’s death in the hope of seeking justice.

READ: Horrific Footage Shows Police Officers Shooting Teen In The Back Of The Head And His Partner’s Response Is Shocking