Fifty years ago this week, Tupac Amaru Shakur (better known by his stage name 2Pac) was born, and so began the story of one of the world’s greatest hip-hop icons. Unfortunately, however, 2Pac’s life was violently cut short one-quarter century ago, and Shakur’s nephew and actor Malik spoke with HipHopDX on the 25th anniversary of 2Pac’s death to discuss the work of his uncle’s eponymous organization, the Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation (TASF).
TASF was created by 2Pac’s mother Afeni Shakur in 1997, one year after her son’s killing, and the foundation has made its mission “to address mental health conditions and eradicate the effects of trauma on our community.” According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Black or African American young adults in poverty are likely to report feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness at twice the rate of their White counterparts in the same income bracket. Nevertheless, barely one-third of Black adults who need the help will receive it.
“Mental health is something that cannot be separated from any other facet of life,” Malik Shakur said. ”Personally, I think you have to meet people where they’re at in every issue, in every problem, in every solution you’re looking for – you have to meet the issue where it’s at. So it’s important to understand that trauma and mental health issues looks different for us than it might for a suburban white family.”
“I wake up in the morning and I ask myself/Is life worth living, should I blast myself?” – 2Pac
“When we think of therapy and mental health we do often think of the couch in the room, the therapist, and it’s all wooden brown, and it’s very quaint and calm, but that’s rarely, rarely, rarely our experience. A lot of us don’t even have access to something like that,” Malik continued. “So we have to understand our triggers and our soft spots that are often intergenerational. These things aren’t treated in a vacuum. We are holding a lot of stress and a lot of trauma that is passed down from many generations.”
In honor of 2Pac’s Golden Jubilee, TASF launched the “50 for 50” initiative. 2Pac’s art has consistently resonated with a disillusioned and traumatized youth. The impact of his lyrics also reflects the power that art has to connect with and transform others. By texting “TUPAC” to 44321 and making a contribution of $50, the TASF can continue to fund various therapeutic programs focused on the mental wellbeing of Black men, women, and children. The money will also be put towards social justice initiatives such as human trafficking and prison reform.