When I got to the last paragraph of this book, I wept. Even though I was moved many times by Afeni’s wisdom, I didn’t expect my own tears.
Just as Jasmine Guy, who wrote this with her, felt a strong rush of gratitude, so did I – to both of them for the chance to read about her life in her words. Afeni Shakur grew up in North Carolina and in her late teens moved to New York with family. She was already a strong-willed, highly intelligent young girl and her intellectual wherewithal up there only got stronger. She found a cause to channel her energy and ambitions with the Black Power movement. The outcome was a deeper lesson in human relationships across the board regarding friendships, the justice system and family.
From her Black Panther days to reclaim her name to the “One-Time Story” (because she wasn’t going to talk about it again) to losing her son and on to what she calls her “Redemption” and the life she’s rebuilt for herself, her daughter and grandchildren, I too, “Thank you for falling in front of [Jasmine] and for getting back up.” (p.209)
This book was also a staunch reminder to me that this woman lost Tupac, her son, first – well before the music industry and his fans. Through him, she grew up. They were close and he is clearly still with her.
Before reading this, I only knew of Afeni as Tupac’s mother; here she lets us know she’s that and much more. Jasmine seems to have wanted us in the room with them as they spoke and I loved that. I’ve always been a fan of Jasmine, so it was natural that I pulled this from the shelf to read and I’m honored to have had the chance.
Afeni is a dynamic and wise woman, compelled to share her wisdom – gained from her childhood experiences to her time with the Black Panthers and to raising Tupac and his sister – with the rest of us through Jasmine. Of her trials, Afeni learned from each and every one. It was brutally honest and I felt close to both of them. It took Afeni some time to even her course, which she’s seemed to have done as she takes life a bit slower now in her home down South. However, with this book, she gave her life and experiences back to Jasmine (as she later notes) and to me – to all of us – who read about it as a testimonial of gratitude and extra chances. Highly recommended read.
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