Tupac was murdered two weeks after I started my first high school teaching job, and while I had been unfamiliar with his work, the devotion of many of my students to his music and his philosophy, not just at the time of his death in 1996, but for years afterward, left me in absolutely no doubt about his influence on pop culture in general and on my students in particular. Trying to sort through the “thug” stereotype and encourage students to really find useful meaning in his work stretched me in ways that I cannot begin to express. Allowing students to research, to treat his life, his work, and the events surrounding his death as a serious subject, created dissension with my colleagues and a struggle with my administration, but paid dividends in that my students actually researched AND they realized that I was respectful of their interests. It altered my relationship with them.
And then life moved on. I hadn’t thought about Tupac in over ten years, and then last week, helping a grad student with research on a different topic altogether, I discovered that Tupac has become a respectable topic for academic research, for university scholarship. After the student left, while following that thread and marveling at the way perspectives change, I ran across this quote that seems to sum up how I feel about half of the time, and thought I would share it with others in a similar emotional situation.