Monday, December 30, 2013

Was Tupac Amaru Shakur a Prophet?

Many people say that Tupac Shakur was a prophet that predicted his own death and several other pivotal events in American history such as the L.A. riots, but the title prophet seems to be a little far fetched doesn't it? Although Tupac is recognized as a great rapper, song writer and poet, would it be fair to elevate his status to such a dignified and important rank? Perhaps. But in order to accurately determine the answer to this question, it is first necessary to understand the definition of a prophet, and although I have my own opinion, I will not use a Western system of thinking to lead you, the reader, to my conclusion. Instead, I will rely on the true form of education. The type of education that compels the observer to draw their own conclusion based on their cognitive abilities of reasoning and logical analysis.

It is therefore neccesary to begin the examination and analytical conjecture on this question with the definition of prophet:


  1. A person regarded as an inspired teacher or proclaimer of the will of God: "the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah".
  2. (among Muslims) Muhammad.
seer - soothsayer - diviner - augur - oracle - predictor

We can see that, according to this definition, a prophet is not only someone who has the ability to "see" or "divine" the future, they must also claim to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and to speak for them.

However, these are not the only qualitatively-specific characteristics of a prophet. One must also consider the fact that various religious institutions have individually-unique prerequisites for this title. For example, in the Christian faith, a prophet is considered to be someone who is commissioned by God to deliver a message for a specific purpose. Generally, this purpose must not include the elevation of an individual for their own glory. Instead, the glory of God is exemplified, and through the prophecy, people are compelled to turn to Him. However, there are exceptions to the rule. For instance, [Elisha and John the Baptist]  were called to deliver a personal message, yet they are still considered prophets by many Christian sects.

Although this is not a religious analysis, I will examine the subject through the lens of Christianity because it is the most widespread religion in the world. The English word prophet is derived from the Greek word prophetes (profetes), which signifies, in classical Greek, one who speaks for another , especially one who speaks for a god. Therefore, in the classical sense, a prophet was an interpreter. The notion that a prophet is a predictor is a post-classical one. The Greek word prophetes (profetes) is the equivalent of the original Hebrew word navi or nabi , which signifies properly a delegate or mouthpiece of another (see Ex. vii. 1), from the general Semitic sense of the root, "to declare," "announce." Hence, when the Israelites spoke of a prophet, they were referring to a spokesperson who delivered God's messages and relayed His intentions for the world.

It is also also a common misconception that all prophets were of Jewish origin. The Talmud reports that there were prophets among the Gentiles (most notably Balaam, whose story is told in Numbers 22). The first Hebrew prophet was Moses, who is widely considered to be the greatest of all the prophets. But Moses was not only a prophet, he was also a political leader, as well as a civil and religious director. And so, herein we have a man that is a role model, brings the Law of God to the Isrealites, and delivers God's chosen people to the Promised Land. By many standards, Moses is the quintessential prophet and more. So how do you compare someone like this to a man like Tupac? 

You can't, but do you have to be "religious" or "holy" to be a prophet? Like it or not, there are prophetic truths that are delivered to nations by the most unlikely people. Tupac's message, as an adherent to the Black Panther philosophy, was one of self-determination, self-defense, morality, justice and revolution. He saw American society for what it was and is, a society of violence, corruption, injustice and social inequality. And although many of Pac's lyrics were violent in nature, his overarching goal was not to promote violence but to exemplify the way in which a violent society breeds more violence, hence, the gangster persona he took on in proclaiming the "THUG LIFE", an acronym for The Hate You Gave Little Infants Fu*c*ks Everybody. Even this gangster persona is a strategy used to enhance his popularity among the impoverished masses in order to spread his underlying messages of solidarity, struggle and survival.

In fact, THUG LIFE actually has a code of ethics behind it authored by Pac' himself. In it he delineates a code of morals for "thugs"(who can actually be more accurately described as the lumpen-proletariat class). Tupac is much like the prophet Elijah in the sense that Pac' calls for "his people" to hold themselves and their community to a higher moral standard, he demands change and he publicly defies a corrupt government, just as Elijah exhibits a public attitude of opposition to king Ahab for displeasing God, ready even to promote a revolution in order to purify morals

Throughout his career, Tupac created two different kinds of music: positive music and angrer-filled music. Upon careful analysis of nearly all of Tupac's known works, I have determined that all of Tupac's music on 2pacalypse Now was used as a vehicle to increase political awareness in undereducated youth, produce a greater sense of community and unity among Blacks, improve the family dynamic in single-parent homes and otherwise, etc. Much of his subsequent work focused on the same goals. When Tupac creates this type of music I believe he is being a spokesperson of the Almighty, which is why I consider these messages to be prophetic. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

It's bigger than Trayvon

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

We are all Trayvon. As the African-American community laments the death of the 17-year-old Floridian who was mercilessly gunned down by George Zimmerman, we must ask ourselves this simple question: Who's next?

You see, the earlier demonstrations and recent publicity that this young man's tragic death inspired amounts to nothing more than what it is at face value: a demonstration. An outpouring of outrage and disdain for those who have empathy for the plight of another Black family torn asunder by the ruthless hand of injustice.

This is not to say that these demonstrations didn't work. After all, there never would have even been a trial if it were not for this public outcry. However, we are all Trayvon is simply a catch phrase that is used to describe one of the bitter facts of life that has existed since Africans arrived on this continent: It is dangerous to merely exist as a Black man in America. But coming to terms with this harsh reality is only the first step in the long journey to freedom.

Saying 'I am Trayvon' means that you acknowledge your vulnerability in this society. Essentially, it is a call to solidarity. But what comes next. How does one change their position in this society? The only choice we have is to fight to survive. Does anyone remember Oscar Grant III who was killed, while in handcuffs, by an Oakland police officer in 2009? How about Latasha Harlins, the 15-year-old girl who was killed because she was "suspected" of stealing?

The truth is that the value of a Black life in america is very cheap. Almost 30 Black men and women have been slain by the police or security since January of 2012. And you can bet your bottom dollar that, acquittal after acquittal, each of these perpetrators will go free.

After the song and dance is over; after Trayvon's story fades from our television sets, magazines and newsstands; after the media returns to business as usual; let us commemorate his life and be constantly reminded of his tragic death.

Let this senseless murder be a lesson to those who merrily drive to their 9 to 5, come home to their wife and kids, pet their dog and continue life without a second thought about Trayvon. If you're Black, you're under attack.....Ad infinitum.

We must understand that this situation is bigger than Trayvon. Realize what you are dealing with: a system which is perpetuated by systematic oppression. No system can be toppled by isolated demonstrations caused by isolated events. If you are Trayvon, do what Trayvon wished he could have done: fight against injustice. In order to put an end to this gross injustice, we must make a stand each and every time we witness injustice.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

America Avoided One Fiscal Cliff But is Headed Toward More.

As congress attempted to meet the budget deadline in order to avert economic disaster, senators from The House of Representatives found themselves unable to form a positive, constructive solution for America's future. Collapsing and being escorted to the hospital under the pretense of "extreme exhaustion" from what sources called “a six, maybe seven-hour day”, the “better half” of America’s legislative body persevered and churned out a compromise. While hundreds of members in a 525-member Congress complained of symptoms ranging from dizziness to headaches, the rest of the members helped to seal a deal that ended the Bush-era tax cuts for the segment of people in America earning 400,000 dollars or more per year. 

The deal, however, wasn’t a sweeping victory for either side. Democrats accepted a higher threshold concerning who would be affected by the 'tax increase" while Republicans conceded to making the top 1.5 percent of Americans pay higher taxes. The deal seems like a more-than-fair compromise, considering that the Bush-era tax cuts were meant to expire, not to be permanently extended to anyone. Now, they are extended permanently to those making 400,000 dollars-a-year or less instead of the original 250,000-dollar threshold. And while both parties gave ground to one another, it seems that hard right-wing Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) have a chip on their shoulder about the compromise. 

Shortly after the negotiations ended, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia) vowed revenge, saying: "As God is my witness, we will try to do a better job of bringing this nation to the brink of Armageddon.” House Speaker John Boehner issued a heartfelt apology to the top earners of the country, saying, “We came to Washington to do the work of 1.5 per cent of the American people, and we didn’t get it done.” Mr. Boehner and his constituents, who he claims are “understandably despondent” because their taxes rose as a result of the deal, now seem eager to gain lost ground by squabbling over the next three "fiscal cliffs".

Mr. Boehner says that he did his best to offer the wealthy consolation by assuring them that millions of middle-class and working-class Americans would suffer more than they would.  According to Boehner, that would usually put them in a better mood. Overall, the fiscal cliff deal doesn’t address increased payroll taxes, and Federal taxes for 77 percent of Americans will rise. Individuals earning 50,000 dollars a year will lose almost 1,000 dollars a year from the increase.
Mitch Mconnell basking in self-congratulation.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) reminds us that “It’s up to [the Republican Party] to concoct entirely new optional disasters that we will have to undo at some later date in a more or less half-assed way.” To the chagrin of the 98.5 percent of Americans whose livelihood is affected by the antics of the Republicans, they don’t seem to mind destroying the economy in the name of politics. If Republicans mean what they say, then there is no need to celebrate yet; the highly-anticipated squabbles over the debt ceiling, the sequester and the Continuing Budget Resolution will, no doubt, continue to have an adverse effect on the American economy.