An Eritrean-American named Ermias Joseph Asghedom, better known as Grammy-nominated artist Nipsey Hussle, was attacked by a gunman outside of his store, The Marathon Clothing, on March 31, 2019. After surviving the initial gunshot wounds, Hussle was pronounced dead at a Los Angeles-area hospital. Two dominant theories have emerged attempting to explain the motive and intent for Hussle’s killing. The LAPD has identified a man, Eric Holder, as the prime suspect in the crime. The LAPD alleges Holder and Hussle had a disagreement that resulted in Hussle’s murder. Another theory involves a man named Dr. Sebi, a cure for HIV and other terminal diseases, a documentary, and the power-elite. Social media was flooded with theories of government and corporate involvement in Hussle’s murder.
Instructors, click on the link below to download this week’s lecture for use in your classroom. The deck contains a writing prompt, a debate question, as well as other assessment questions.
LO1: Explain how an imbalance in power in American society creates an opportunity for conspiracies to spread.
LO2: Apply multiple sociological theories to understand and explain gun violence and the spread of conspiracies.
LO3: Understand how issues of race, gender, and culture uniquely contributed to Hussle’s murder, emerging narratives regarding catalysts, news coverage, and pursuit of justice.
- It Hurts to See Nipsey Hussle’s Life Not Mattering
- Nipsey Hussle murder: Suspect Eric Holder pleads not guilty
- Nipsey Hussle Had a Vision to Make His Community–and the World–Better
- Dr. Sebi Trends on Twitter as Conspiracy Theories Rise Amid Nipsey Hussle’s Fatal Shooting
- Nipsey Hussle’s Alleged Killer, Eric Holder, Being Held in Isolation Out of Fear for His Life
- For Eritrean Americans, Nipsey Hussle’s death is like losing a family member
- Nipsey Hussle shooting suspect Eric Holder pleads not guilty to murder charge
- O.J. Simpson prosecutor Darden representing suspect in Nipsey Hussle shooting
- Killing of Nipsey Hussle in South L.A. likely has some ties to gangs, source says; LAPD seeks suspect
- White People Didn’t Do This: On Nipsey Hussle and Conspiracy Theories
- Nipsey Hussle shooting shown on surveillance video
- Nipsey Hussle Memorial to Be Held at Los Angeles’ Staples Center
- Fans pay tribute after rapper Nipsey Hussle killed in LA shooting – video
- What social forces have the largest impact on which theory—LAPD or Dr. Sebi—an individual is likely to believe regarding the murder of Nipsey Hussle? How might their relationship to social structures such as government, criminal justice, economy, healthcare, and the family influence how someone is likely to explain Hussle’s murder using alternative (conspiracy) theories?
- Using a symbolic-interactionist perspective, describe the meaning of the memorials that were set up at the scene of Hussle’s murder. How does the meaning of that particular location change in the aftermath of the death of a community member? Why might people who have never met Nipsey Hussle view him as family and be experiencing varying degrees of mourning?
- How might Hussle’s philanthropy in life influence existing community advocates and activists and inspire other social movements to take hold after his death? How might his known gang affiliation with the Rollin’ 60s (a Crip organization) influence how some might define the death of Hussle? Why might the media work to highlight the latter in an effort to maintain hegemonic understandings of gun violence victims and appropriate responses?
- Why might some artists such as Nipsey Hussle decide to remain close to their original neighborhood, despite the potential dangers? What is the role of living and interacting with members of the community in legitimating the identity of artists such as Hussle? What is the value of one’s reputation in communities like Crenshaw?
- Using a conflict perspective, discuss how the social status of Nipsey Hussle led to a near-immediate identification and apprehension of a suspect, unlike the thousands of murders involving black men that go unsolved every year. How might the lack of attention to these murders be driven by disproportionate power sharing among the public and the criminal justice system, owners of media, capitalists, and politicians?
Current Events Quiz
A _______ theorist might focus their attention on how the death of Nipsey Hussle is serving to unite his fans and activists to continue his work of improving communities forgotten and/or ignored by the system established to protect it.
Taking into consideration the _______ of Nipsey Hussle, a sociologist might argue part of the reason Hussle was murdered is related to ideas of masculinity within the community of Crenshaw.
a. marital status
b. socioeconomic status
Which type of theorist would argue that one of the primary reasons some people believe the conspiracy theory involving Dr. Sebi is related to their lack of trust in social structures, such as the economy, government, and criminal justice system, stemming from a lifetime of negative experiences with these social institutions?