Decapitatin’ Trees And Dissing The Community, That’s How We Roll In The It City

I know you can’t tell it by the headline, but at age 47, my rhyming skills have dulled quite a bit. It’s hard to believe that I’m the same lyrical lioness who in 7th grade masterfully spit these bars: “My name is Vesia and I’m Sweet Es-sence and everybody knows I’m not real dense. Because I’m so, so fine and I’m so, so sweet and when I go to a party I can hang with the beat.” Queen Latifah, my lyrical equal, was so jealous of me.

Someday I’ll look back on today’s blog and regret rapping myself into eternal embarrassment, but for now, my heart is heavy and aching to offer an expression of love to the hip hop community and South Central L.A. over Sunday’s tragic loss of Nipsey Hussle. Born Ermias Asghedom in South Central L.A., the 33-year-old was gunned down in front of his recently purchased retail property. A father, partner, rapper, entrepreneur, technology enthusiast, and philanthropist, Hussle re-invested into the community that made him. As Gerrick A. Kennedy wrote in the L.A. Times:

His death in front of the strip mall he was redeveloping a few blocks away from that celebratory banner feels particularly cruel.

Condolences to Hussle’s family and America’s youth who connected with the music, identified with his story, and aspired to model the man.

RIP Hussle.


“Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky. ”
―   Khalil Gibran

A day before Hussle’s demise, this old master rapper was in mourning over the impending loss of downtown Nashville’s Cherry Blossoms and the death of Nashville’s soul. Don’t let the gangsta fool you, trees are my jam.

Here’s the tea:

In late April the NFL Draft is coming to Nashville and Mayor David Briley is complying with the NFL’s every whim and desire which, as many found out Saturday morning, includes unceremoniously removing twenty-one Cherry trees to make way for the temporary NFL draft stage. For many Nashvillians, it was just one more slap in the face or as David Plazas brilliantly opined in the Tennessean, “…the tree removal is symbolic of how many people feel that their identity and place in Nashville have been uprooted as the city continues to grow, wondering whether it will outgrow them.”


Admittedly, I spent too much time on Saturday following #CherryTreeGate developments and sharing the online petition on each of my social media platforms. By Sunday the petition had grown to more than 60,000 signatures in little more than twenty-four hours! We definitely love trees in this part of the country. However, the swift and massive show of support for trees, understandably, led to mixed feelings about citizens’ priorities.

Who would argue that trees are more important than schools? Not this educated rapper. But the dizzying deluge of indignation forced teachers and other public school supporters to entertain thoughts of garnering that kind of support for the daily struggles that affect the lives of thousands of children.

I get it. Education is multi-faceted, it’s political and expensive, and for many, it’s distant – little to no connection to the most fragile populations or the deplorably under-resourced schools. But, at some point, everybody seeks the shade of a tree.

UGH – personal journey,  not journal.

For tree defenders, it’s binary. It’s as simple as to cut or not to cut.


Pat Sharp shut it down with this nugget:

These Dudes Ain’t Loyal

After a full weekend of public outcry from thousands of ticked off Nashvillians, Mayor Briley and the city’s biggest salesman, Convention and Visitors Bureau Chief Butch Spyridon, backpedaled, apologized, but ultimately continued with the plan to cut down 10 trees which have “already died and compromised” and to transfer the remaining trees “intact.” Here’s the thing, any amateur gardener will tell you that to transplant a tree in full bloom is to kill the tree.

Did I mention Nashville’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival is next week?

The last of the trees are being “moved” as I write.

“You aren’t a true leader without the ability to be honest and take responsibility for your actions.” – Nipsey Hussle

RIP Soul of Nashville.

2 thoughts on “Decapitatin’ Trees And Dissing The Community, That’s How We Roll In The It City

  1. Brilliant! Indeed, no one seems to care that 40% of Nashville’s children, all across town, leave zoned public schools after 4th grade.

    Indeed, no one seems to care that per-grade middle-school enrollment in Williamson County zoned schools increases magically, in contrast.

    Indeed, no one seems to care that we replaced the 1968 racial segregation of harsh zoning line with a “good luck – oops sorry you lost again” lottery system into score-segregated magnets, and choice-segregated charter schools.

    I care. But, I am only one.

    Iroinically, it only takes a few committed souls to make big changes in this district – for better or worse. We were able to halt the ridiculous Great Hearts charter application last decade with a few hundred signatures. (good!) A few hundred, working for 5 years, got the District to install the Meigs->Hume Fogg autopathway in 1999 when the courts stopped their oversignt (bad!). We were able to get some long overdue building renovations with some committed groups asking for them. (great – but not nearly enough).

    Just imagine what we could do with 60,000 signatures demanding robust academics, or equality, or integration, or career-long suported teachers! Instead we see Governor Lee and Betsy DeVos packing a room filled with Republican donors bent on diverting our coffers to their private schools. And, we (the larger city) sit on our hands. Maybe that makes sense in a city where 40% of kids leave zoned schools after 4th grade.


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