Staying Home in Los Angeles: We See Things As We Are

Six words have been popping up in all of my conversations lately: We see things as we are. In sessions with clients to catching up with my best friend, this phrase is an inevitable truth that has been my North Star as of the late. Los Angeles is staying at home in response to COVID-19, causing mass unemployment, immense fear, and a larger debilitating anxiety casting a shadow over the city. However, the truth is, this shadow existed for many residents prior to this pandemic. The city of Los Angeles has a population of at least 52,765 people experiencing homelessness. A lack of sanitation, bathrooms, and general respect for those without homes has dimmed what is known as the city of stars. The cost of living thrives as a threat to those who keep the city running – grocery store workers, janitors, security guards, parking attendants, and even those with fancy degrees protecting the public like nurses and social workers. Amidst all those roles are folks who may be living without documentation of their citizenship. Despite this reality we’ve collectively coexisted within, we see things as we are. We see things from our perspective. We overlook what isn’t in our immediate peripherals.

Thus, social distancing has proven to be an interesting moment. It is a moment of leveling. Most of us are out of work. The majority of those who aren’t are still underpaid, under appreciated, and have never had their health more at risk. We’re all in here, together. We’re all responsible for one another, together. We’re a collective grappling with notions of freedom, security, and mortality. We’re here. And, according to Mayor Garcetti, we probably aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

I’m solution-oriented in my life. I survive through a balance of simple indulgences and service to others. While I will continue to show up to be of service in all ways I am able to, the structures I operate within are just as faulty. Liberation is an ongoing journey, one that ebbs and flows with the trials and tribulations present from generation to generation. I realize that the structures in which I show up to be of service may very well crumble just as everyone else’s. A bittersweet reminder of the innovation life requires from us with a minute’s notice.

So, speaking of innovation and a solution-oriented perspective: What can we do? We can stay home, if that is our current purpose. We can innovate digital ways of supporting one another. We can commit to memory this fragment in time and vow to volunteer for crisis hotlines, an essential activity that can be done from the safety of your home after completing required trainings. Or, we can show up to work, conversely, if that is our given charge. But, big picture aside, we can do what the bare minimum has always been and will always be: We can be a good neighbor to those we live amongst, housed and unhoused. We can be a good ancestor to family members, elderly and young.

Riddled with anxiety and not sure where to start? Pick up the phone, call someone you love, and ask them what you can do for them today. This is your medicine. Take a dose as many times as you need.

Nipsey Hussle: A Retrospective

When I thought about creating the Retrospective portion of this website, I thought about my personal mission of uplifting narratives of resilience in the Black community. The idea of a Black person having a space – whether it is the bottom floor of the Los Angeles MOCA a la Kerry James Marshall or a simple dedication on a digital platform like this – acknowledges the inherent regality that thrives in our community. I wanted to craft a regular, ongoing space that builds on the concept that Black people are worthy of celebration and their lives should be continually praised. A retrospective suggests that a person created work so notable, it is worth digesting with a wide lens and a ravenous mind. These posts may not encapuslate the full spectrum of everything a person has done, but they will always encourage readers to meditate on the influence created, even if for just a moment.

There is one man that immediately came to mind when I thought of whom I would want a reader to spend time meditating on. He broke Los Angeles’ heart when he left this earth. My husband and I streamed his albums nonstop in the months following his death, a practice we still slip into weekly with the goal of putting money back in his family’s pocket. Ermias Joseph Asghedom. Nipsey Hussle.

There was never someone quite like him in the game. Intelligence, spirituality, a growth mindset, someone who never shunned the block where he came from. He was open about his experiences within gang culture and denounced gun violence. His entrepreneurial endeavors positioned community, dignity, and self-preservation at their core. He was a proud parent and built a beautiful blended family with girlfriend Lauren London.

He was a God to the youth of South Los Angeles and when he left earthside, the city’s heart cracked and the roots of Hip Hop splintered. This post is as much a tribute as it is a celebration. Listen to his music, hear his voice through your speakers. Watch his interview and consider how you can carry on the legacy he left. View his photos and take a moment to pray for his wellness, wherever he may be now. His essence lives on – Los Angeles, Hip Hop, and the world at large will never be the same.

May the marathon continue.