Tupac’s Mother, Afeni Shakur-Davis, On Hip-Hop & The Occupy Movement


The Occupy Wall Street & Together Movement is a reflection of the increasing anger and implosion of the working class in a “profit by any means necessary” driven capitalist system.

Capitalism on its own merit is not the problem. The way it’s approached in America is. There is a dichotomy at play, though. Consumers want products at low prices, and producers manufacture goods in other countries with lower wages to achieve the desired consumer prices.

Somehow, it is easy for some to ignore inequity in pay and unsafe working conditions if it takes place outside of the United States.

The consequence of outsourcing jobs outside of the U.S. to increase profit is that jobs shrink in America, especially in the manufacturing sector. In a recession, more jobs in multiple sectors dry up, affecting almost everyone except for those in the sectors that create new technology or for corporate executives. They actually get richer.

The result is that more workers feel the frustration of finding adequate work, something many in the African-American community have experienced for generations.

What is the real price of all of those inexpensive goods and high profits?

What would a device like a smartphone cost if it were manufactured 100 percent in America?

This problem is nothing new.

There has been anger with the growing gaps between the rich and those trying to get by day-to-day since the founding of this country.

I know firsthand the results of vast inequity in America. That is what I fought against in the Black Panther Party.

When the schools in New York shut down in the 60s, I was angry. I helped organize my community on behalf of my nephews and other children in our community.

I stood up for what was right, and I remained angry.

That anger led me into a tailwind of substance abuse.

Anger has consequences.

It leads to more harm than the original source of the anger. My family was devastated when violence killed my son in 1996. Although my loss was painful, I did not get resort to anger or violence.

Over the past 15 years, I have channeled my pain into the work of the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation. In the spirit of Tupac’s legacy, we established the Foundation to provide opportunities for young people to express themselves creatively, to teach conflict resolution, to improve communities, and to provide an institution that brings people together.

The Foundation has been different things for different people at different times. For some, the Foundation is a source of strength; for others, it’s a place of empowerment. The Foundation is a place of comfort to those grieving the loss of a loved one killed by violence, we increase awareness and prevention of suicide, and we offer acceptance of others regardless of their sexual orientation or background.

We honor and learn from our seniors, and we mentor young women. We honor fathers, and those who have rebounded from substance and other abuse. We empower our community with resources, and provide jobs and opportunities for single mothers, young people, and for those just trying to get by.

The Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation and those that we have helped have long been “The 99%.”

The Occupy Movement has successfully organized people across the globe that share the frustration of the negative results from inequity in the U.S. capitalist system that has existed since I can remember.

But, for the movement to be effective, especially for those involved from the Hip-Hop community, the movement must not ride the waves of anger into waves of violence, but into action.

Community action that helps those most vulnerable in their community – children, young girls, and seniors – is the best defense.

For instance, imagine the impact of thousands around the world flooding shelters to help those most vulnerable in their communities.

Being part of The 99% is nothing new, especially for the African-American community.

Don’t scoundrel this opportunity to leverage the impact of the thousands that have organized. These opportunities do not come often.

When this organizing moment is a glimpse in the history books, will your only accomplishment be a T-Shirt that reads “We are the 99%?”

In Solidarity,
Afeni Shakur-Davis