Yesterday I received two texts that summed it up for me. They both said "he was ours..." and it helped me understand my tears.
As I was sitting in my stylists chair finishing a new braided hairdo, a look on IG confirmed what I didn't want to admit I feared - DMX was dead at the age of 50. We both fell silent as I looked at reputable page after page to seek confirmation. X was dead and internally I battled to discover why I felt so sad.
I did not know DMX personally. He was merely a public figured. He battled substance abuse for most of his life. He lived a life of poor decisions. How could I not think this would happen. You only knew him through his music and interviews. These were my thoughts as I tried to rationalize my grief.
But as I dug deeper I realized that I was mourning DMX because I DID know him personally. Through his public persona, I came to understand the battles of Earl Simmons: the boy who was physically abused by his mother; the teenager that was placed in institutions when people didn't understand his behavior; the young man lead down a dark hole by someone he trusted; the man with dreams, success and demons finding and fighting himself in the same breath; the father who had challenges engaging with his children; the man who searched for the love of his mother in the love of a woman; the human who loved God and allowed God to show up in him through his imperfections and in spite of them tried again and again and again.
We mourn DMX not just because of his music. We mourn DMX because he was able to give us all of his talent because of the pains of Earl Simmons. I mourn him because he reminds me of so many Black men I know. From the boys I served while working in foster care, to the men I choose to love today. I see aspects of him in them and his life (and death) are a testament to some of my greatest fears for the men I love. They are ours and we root for them and cry for them and love them through it all.
We mourn for Earl Simmons and all that could've been had he found complete healing. We mourn for ourselves as we watch another example of the pain and early demise that the pains of the trauma in our community can create.
My prayer for us is that we allow ourselves to grieve in all the complexities that that will bring. I pray we find healing in choosing to do all we can to celebrate those putting forth their best efforts. I ask that we love on ourselves each day understanding and embracing the presence of God's grace.
May Earl Simmons travel home safely and may his spirit serve as a protector and infinite guide for all those that need what he wasn't able to receive while on earth.
*Queue Ruff Ryders Anthem*