For the past two decades, not a single year has gone by in Hip Hop without one of our ambitious young men being robbed of his life. It only took 33 days into 2015 to show us yet again just how backward our actions are. 33 days! Bay Area Hip Hop pioneer and fan favorite Dominic “The Jacka” Newton was shot and killed in East Oakland by an unknown gunman on the evening of February 2nd. For the past 15 years, The Jacka has been a highly regarded contributor to the Bay Area Hip Hop movement. He collaborated with the likes of E-40, Mac Dre, C-Bo, Mistah F.A.B. as well as other regional heavy hitters like Paul Wall of Houston, Texas and Philadelphia's Freeway. Per usual among street rappers, The Jacka provided us with tales of the necessary grit and grind that ensures surviving and thriving in the harsh, underprivileged pockets of urban America. He also taught us to stay sharp and gave us a few choice tracks to liven up the party. Now, we must mourn, as we do so often, while remembering him for his best and trying not to think about all we have lost.
This murder is just one of many in a long list of self-destructive acts perpetuated by our young black men. No matter a man's faults, he is entitled the universal right to share the same air and a chance to figure out his purpose. A right to find his avenue and utilize it to offer his unique contribution. Yet, a midst the frustration and confusion caused by imbalance in our system, coupled with the daily stresses of basic survival and fabricated wars we inflict on ourselves, it seems that as a people, we can't escape our suicidal ways. We, as a race, exhibit suicidal tendencies as it becomes apparent that no matter how much progress we make, we are still incapable of living in peace with ourselves. The worst part about the death of The Jacka is that though it wasn't expected, it wasn't a surprise either. We exist in a constant state of emergency. Consider the idea that the exact same thing happened the day before and the day after somewhere in the United States. The difference being that the other victims weren't as popular, but just as important.
Some turn to religion. Others, family. But a great many of us internalize these brutal truths and self medicate until we are numb. Those feelings never really go away and after bottling up so many, we become walking time bombs. If we don't learn to talk through our frustrations and work together to lower these homicide numbers, it goes without saying that our future is a bleak one. The next generation can only look on as we scramble and fail to keep it together. Our example is a poor one. And to think, it wasn't so long ago that our people were united in their cause. United in their mindset. Our fathers and grandfathers stood shoulder to shoulder in a fight against oppression. The common issues are what kept everyone together. Through a subversive and calculated attack, that army of progressive-minded individuals was destroyed and their offspring (us) were left orphaned without a cause to inherit. The sense of unity dissolved. We have to get it back. Long term. It's a shame that it takes the cold-blooded murder of a black teenager by a white policeman to even get us to stand together. A foundation of self-love is needed as a platform to build a new identity.
With our immense talent and limitless potential, we have to recognize our value and appreciate it. We're essentially killing off the next Michael Jackson or Frederick Douglass all in the name of ignorance and self-hate. It's disgusting. So think before you shoot. And if you know your position and believe you're worth it, make sure and tell your brothers to think first as well. No one is going to help us if we won't help ourselves. Break the cycle! Protect thy brother. Peace and love.
Rest in peace to The Jacka and all our brothers who've lost their lives to senseless violence.