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Young Dolph was killed as he transitioned from survivor to thriver. That's what's sad|Weathersbee

Much of Young Dolph’s life was about surviving.


Dolph, whose name was Adolph Robert Thornton Jr., was raised by his grandmother in Memphis; in a place where poverty drove him to sell drugs as a teenager.


But like many other hip-hop artists, Dolph parlayed that pain into a multimillion dollar career through speaking to an audience that could relate to the hustle it took to transcend that life and the flaunting of riches and rewards he amassed along the way.


That last part should have closed the survival chapter of his life.


But, no.


Rivalries that normally would play out on the streets where he once sold drugs prolonged it.


In February of 2017, he was shot at more than 100 times in Charlotte, North Carolina, as he sat in his bulletproof SUV. Blac Youngsta, an artist who was signed to the label of Dolph’s archrival, Yo Gotti, was among those charged in the shooting – although the charges were ultimately dropped.


Then, in September of that year, Dolph was shot three times outside of a Hollywood hotel. He recovered after three days in the hospital.


Once again, he survived.


But Wednesday, the last chapter of Dolph’s survival streak was written at age 36. He was fatally shot in his hometown; in the place where he had been using his wealth to ease the existence of struggling Memphians.


Then, in September of that year, Dolph was shot three times outside of a Hollywood hotel. He recovered after three days in the hospital.


Once again, he survived.


But Wednesday, the last chapter of Dolph’s survival streak was written at age 36. He was fatally shot in his hometown; in the place where he had been using his wealth to ease the existence of struggling Memphians.


And what his slaying reveals is that as long as gun violence is acquiesced as an accessory and not an aberration in many communities, and as long as a culture is defined by silencing an adversary rather than seeking common ground, few survivors will live long enough to become thrivers.


To me, that’s where the sadness lies.


I can’t claim to be a fan, or at least not a superfan, of hip-hop. I’m old and I’m old school, and used to songs about love and heartache, or lyrics with a clear social message. I’m from The Last Poets and Gil Scott Heron era, and I’m often put off by what seems to be an embrace of Machiavellian, materialistic values in much of hip-hop.


But then again, maybe hip-hop's message isn't meant for me. And that's fine.


What I am a fan of, though, is people in struggling communities being able to go to their favorite cookie shop - Dolph’s favorite was Makeda’s Famous Butter Cookies - and not have to worry about whether they’ll leave in a body bag.


I’m a fan of building communities and culture that would allow Black men like Dolph to live long enough to use their clout and their prosperity to transform their communities into the happy, thriving places that didn’t exist when they were children.


That’s why, in this moment of sadness and anger over Dolph’s slaying, it’s essential to remember why that must happen – and how it should happen.


Tameka Greer, executive director of Memphis Artists for Change and a peace pursuer with LIVE FREE, an organization dedicated to gun violence intervention and prevention, had some thoughts.


“Young Dolph didn’t deserve to die, and neither do the children, youth, and adults who lose their lives to gun violence every day,” Greer said in a news release.


Dolph, Greer said, was scheduled to host a holiday event at her church for children of incarcerated parents next month.


“While we search for answers, we must ground ourselves in what we do in fact know…elected leaders cannot use this moment to double-down on policies and practices that that leave Black communities vulnerable, criminalized, and hopeless. They should invest in community-based gun violence intervention programs, as these have been proven to be the most effective strategy in keeping communities safe…


“Additionally, policymakers must provide greater funding for jobs, education, housing and basic resources that gives people a fighting chance to thrive not just survive…”


No one has yet been arrested in connection with Dolph’s slaying, so it’s tough to know whether his murderer was someone who couldn’t let go of a grudge, or someone who recognized his Corvette – as virtually everyone in the community did – and had the perverse notion that killing Dolph would lend them some kind of street cred.


Yet that’s also part of the sadness: That even someone like Dolph, for all his money and all the love he showed his family and the city that, unlike Charlotte and Hollywood, he called home, was the city where he was killed.


No matter that he was trying to help others thrive in it.


#youngdolph #hiphop #yogotti.





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