The Black Experience: ‘All eyes on you’

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As we inch closer towards the holiday season, an annual focus on the plight of the less fortunate comes into the forefront. After all, this is the season of giving. Take Adolph Thornton, Jr. for example. For some of you, this may be just another name on a page, but for many he was known as Young Dolph. He was a prominent rapper who rose from his unfortunate situation as a youth to become one of the faces of the Southern/Trap Hip-Hop scene. Yeah, his music often glorified the gritty truths of street culture, but aside from the violence and drug consumption, his music resonated with many because most can relate to the difficulty of making it out the hood with limited opportunities.

Annually, Dolph visits his hometown to pass out turkeys to the community he grew up in and to spread love during this time of the year. Last Wednesday, while in the midst of his daily routine, he was fatally gunned down at Makeda’s, a cookie store in Memphis he frequented. The sudden-ness and shocking outcome of this event sent shockwaves throughout social media, the Hip-Hop world, and the entire south. My heart instantly filled with empathy for the store owners, their patrons, and the loved ones Dolph left behind. His wife, children, friends, and family members will forever feel the trauma behind all of this.

Ironically, Dolph’s passing reminded me of an all too familiar trend when it comes to rappers being slain in their home city. Lonnie Taylor, also known as Lil Lonnie, met the same fate. Albeit with a different set of circumstances, his demise was yet anoth-er example of how one’s status can simulta-neously make one a target. He was another son, friend, prominent voice in our commu-nity taken from the world behind the mis-guided actions of a soul filled with hatred. What led these individuals to make such immense decisions without clearly analyzing the consequences?

As a child raised in a single parent house-hold, I was often met with brutal honesty in regards to the concerns I had about life. I can vividly remember my mom brushing my hair, straightening my coat, and remind-ing me of three things – three things that would ultimately save my life. She would say, “You’re a male, you’re Black, and all
eyes on you.” Those words instilled in me accountability and the awareness to know what I represent. The world is sometimes an evil and cruel place, and often I will encounter situations that deserve a heightened sense of discernment and judgement.

As Black men, we need to walk with the understanding that we represent an entire community, a group of people that are often viewed in a negative light. And it saddens me to say, can you blame those that do? The senseless murders of our Black voices and leaders need to come to an end. As a culture, let’s learn to settle our disagreements without bloodshed. As we give this holiday season, let’s switch it up a bit. Instead of stressing over purchasing material things for our family members, give encouraging words. Set a positive example. Represent! And always remember all eyes on you.

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The Black Experience: ‘All eyes on you’

By Joshua Martin
November 25, 2021