By Ise Lyfe
People back in my hometown region of the Bay Area as well as people all over are mourning the loss of a dear brother, Kevin Weston.
I’m saddened to hear of this young brothers passing due to illness and want to lift him up and share the impact he had on my life:
When I was 17 years old, I began to become increasingly politicized and interested in social welfare. The regional and national tone was leaning heavy in a “diversity” direction as people theorized about America being a “melting pot.”
The notion being that instead of being distinct people with distinct narratives, triumphs, and struggles, we were all becoming a blur or rainbow- depending on how you felt about the melting pot thing…
There was this sorta new term and popular consciousness that we were not African, Chicano, South East Asian, Honduran, Mexican, etc., but rather “People of Color.” As the swirl twirled, I was a teenage Black kid involved in social justice education and curiously noticed that there were hardly any Black men in the mix.
Our mentors, teachers, and after school coordinators were dope folks – normally women, some men, and almost always Latino, Asian, or White.
Except for this one cat: Kevin Weston
Kev was tall with an untamed afro (I remember him how he is pictured above), and I dug him because he was a polite/shit talking/hella informed brother that often had a casual confidence to himself.
He was warm and no nonsense to us young people, and in him I saw inspiration to keep growing and learning in areas that most people seemed to either shun or be unaware of.
I vividly remember a training Kevin facilitated when I was just 18 years old at UC Berkeley. He fascinated us as he taught about the contemporary Black experience while relating and synchronizing common struggles with other ethnicities without diluting any group.
The other youth I knew that worked more closely with Kevin at a youth publication he spearheaded (Youth Outlook) all loved him and sought out his insight on culture and politics.
The last time I saw Kevin was a few years back. I was walking onto a campus to give a lecture at a conference, and Kev was laid back in the driver seat of a car- the seat fully reclined.
Up until then I was unaware that he was ill, but it was obvious upon seeing him, though I didn’t know the details. He smiled slowly at me, and we exchanged a few words. “Teefah’s in there”, he said proudly, referring to his wife who we all respect and love being at the conference I was walking up on.
I said peace and rolled out. But do you know what Kevin was doing when I walked up on the car? He was laid back in that seat with his eyes closed swaying his head back and forth bumping KRS ONE ‘cause he’s a G.
This brother was Love. He was Education. He was Hip-Hop. He was, as his legacy and work is now, necessary and un-reversible.
Ise Lyfe (pronounced “Ice Life”), born Isaac Brown, is a spoken word and hip-hop artist as well as an educator, community organizer, and activist. He is best known for winning the 2001 National Poetry Slam Competition and appearing on Russell Simmons’ Def Poetry Jam on HBO. He appeared in a one-man show, Pistols and Prayers, based on his book of the same name, and wrote another one-person show called Who’s Krazy?. He has also presented a multi-media conceptual art project, Brighter Than Blight.