We admire legends because of their foresight, insight and leadership. Nipsey Hussle should be recognized for bringing the tech conversation to the hood. He gave visibility to what can be done in tech and put it in a place where the Black community could have access to it.
As we spend time recognizing his many contributions to his L.A. kinship and hometown, Nipsey’s ability to go against the grain and follow his radical instincts can be felt even when we take a closer look at his investments in technology.
He understood there weren’t many Black people penetrating the industry. For example, he saw the value of trading and exchanging cryptocurrency, a financial instrument built on BlockChain. BlockChain is known as one of the hottest phenomenons in the industry right now.
“When the value spreads, when the accessibility spreads, you’ll be sitting in the right chair,” Hussle commented once, in an interview talking about his investments.
Arguably his greatest influence on the youth however, was augmenting and promoting STEM education. The bigger question is why aren’t our kids getting this education in their schools?
Understanding the business of and methods of supply and demand in technology is paramount for the advancement of the Black community. Technology has become a way of life. It’s a huge 21st century economic engine and in order to bring that money to the hood, we must capture the interest of the Black community and build those skill sets in order to stay competitive. Nipsey understood the opportunities that exist in tech, and that access is rather time sensitive.
Increasingly, software development and the ways in which we design and implement computer systems should be viewed through a multi-dimensional lens, but very few African Americans pursue careers in software development or even show interest. There is research that suggest more diverse companies are better at problem solving and more profitable.
Nipsey’s vision is exactly what we should be replicating — using these technologies and our skills to solve the problems in our communities. When these youngsters learn these new skills, they can build and create their own companies.
Did you know Nipsey’s team opened a co-working space in his community and prioritized renting space to tech-savvy entrepreneurs? The high point here isn’t that he opened a STEM center, it’s that he launched it in Crenshaw, Los Angeles, and residential fees weren’t free. He even took it a step further by reserving a science technology and education math center for children to learn and be mentored within that same space. Research confirms mentorship is critical in this field because of the challenges and obstacles many Black people face throughout the STEM pipeline. The Too Big Too Fail academy in Crenshaw was just the first of many institutions he and his real estate business partner David Gross were planning. Baltimore, D.C. and Atlanta were cities also under consideration as the team looked to replicate the program around the country.
Nip was striving to create an environment where youngsters could see entrepreneurs and creators who come from where they come from and look like them. Take a look at the value moguls like Jay-Z and Diddy place on tech investments out on the east coast. Nipsey envisioned a resource networking system across major cities designed for information sharing and software development. We need more of this.
The creativity that African-Americans brought to jazz, hip-hop and football — think Barry Sanders in the NFL, Allen Iverson’s crossover in the NBA or what Obama did with the presidency — we have yet to see the full effects of Black creativity in the tech space.
We must get past the intimidation stage.
Let’s take a note from Nipsey’s wisdom and legacy by continuing to bridge the gap in STEM education in our communities and commit to this much needed level of investments in the tech industry.