Teaching to Change LA > Youth Voices > Vol. 5, Issue 1 > Electoral Politics
Electoral Politics > Features > Student Work

Art & Politics: A Letter of Thanks to 2Pac Shakur

Whitney Reynolds is a senior at Crenshaw High School in San Fernando, California.

Dear Afeni Shakur,

I am a student in the 12th grade at a South LA school that admires your son’s work and the way he tells his stories through songs. The first time I heard one of his songs I was at home listening to the radio and his song “Brenda’s Got a Baby” came on. To be honest, his words touched my heart in a very passionate way. The reason I can relate to this is because I see these things everyday; teen-age pregnancies, mothers on welfare, and even people turning to drugs because they have given up. The song “Brenda’s Got a Baby” changed my life because everyone sees and knows what’s going on, but most people never really paid attention until 2Pac brought it into the open. The reason why I love 2Pac’s music is because everyone in what we call the "hood" (and some say the “ghetto”) can relate to what he’s rapping about. In the song he mentioned that Brenda’s father was a junkie putting needles in his arms. My father was never a drug user, however, I can relate to that because many children in the hood do not have a father by their side. Many don’t even know their father, but have only heard stories about him. In many ways not having a male role model can affect one’s life because at an early age these children are forced to go out in life and experience things that a normal child should not. He also mentioned that Brenda did not have any way to support her child and that she tried to sell crack but ended up getting robbed. She then turned to sex because she thought it was a way of making everything better. Brenda didn’t have a legitimate way of taking care of her child. So she turned to the streets for help by selling her body to men, giving in to their needs rather than focusing on what she really needed which was putting herself first and building her own self-esteem. The way I look at it is, if Brenda was white, would she have gone through the same thing? Would she have given up a long time ago? Or would she have a family that’s there for her to tell her that she can make it and not to give up because her family really loves and believes in her. What do you think white Brenda would have done?

Throughout the entire song he mentions that we gotta make a change. But still we are killing our bothers and sisters. When will we all come together and make a difference in the world we live in today?

The song that also changed my life was the song “Changes” because it addresses all the issues that we face today in this crazy world, all the black on black crime, police brutality, mothers on welfare, and the struggles that we are all in together. He also talks about the racism that we still face today. He said that he has no money so he’s looking for a purse to snatch, meaning that if the government helps us get jobs then we don’t have to go out and rob. The issues that 2Pac Shakur addresses in his song are still happening today. Throughout the entire song he mentions that we gotta make a change. But still we are killing our bothers and sisters. When will we all come together and make a difference in the world we live in today? When he says, "I made a G today but you made it in a sleezy way,” he is saying that we need to stop selling drugs to the kids of tomorrow. Instead of selling them something that’s going to mess their minds up, we need to educate them and teach them self love.

In order to love some one they have to love themselves first instead. In South LA, 2Pac serves as a mentor, someone that can relate to similar situations as young people. 2Pac’s words have touched many people’s lives in many different ways. I believe that 2-Pac was an individual who knew what he was talking about and had experiences in just about every rap song that he made. He speaks on behalf of everyone that is a product of the system. 2Pac did not care how the world views him, he was just there to get his message across and be heard. He didn’t care what the media thinks about him or who didn’t like him, he was just there to be the voice of the black people in the struggle. The song “Changes” is just another powerful piece that 2Pac wrote. The thing that made 2Pac a good writer is that you can always tell what he is feeling through his songs, you can tell his attitude toward something, you can tell whether or not he is passionate about something.

2Pac Shakur has changed my life in many different ways. He has changed my mind set, he made me look at things a lot differently, and his music has helped me deal with the harsh reality of the hood.

Teaching to Change LA is an online journal of IDEA, UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education, & Access