In his ongoing pursuit to bring attention to the issues of prison reform and gun violence, Pusha T has extended an open hand to the family of six-year-old Jeffrey “Lil J” Laney after being struck by the poignancy of his words in a recent viral video.
In an online Facebook video posted by Laney’s mother, Lil J issued a plea to stop gun violence after hearing consistent shootings and witnessing regular fatalities within his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri.
Touched by this, Pusha saw the video as a call to action and penned an open letter to Lil J in response. In his own words, Pusha praised the six-year-old for his thoughtfulness and bravery, and for eloquently addressing a complex and emotional issue that plagues countless communities today. Dedicated to making an impact on Lil J’s life and to issue a call to action to those around him, Pusha has set up a college fund for Lil J, in addition to offering him the perfect summer vacation – a trip to Six Flags Amusement Park, a summer camp session with Boys & Girls Club and an exclusive screening of Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Pusha’s response to Lil J’s plea is the latest in a long series of the rapper and GOOD Music President’s history with prison reform and communal issues on a global scale, and serves as another step in Pusha’s continued quest to create a dialogue around our prison systems and the impact it carries within our society. This past year saw Pusha also team up with President Barack Obama on his My Brother’s Keeper initiative and My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, which instill new policy changes, grant programs as well as local and national guidance to ensure that every child has a clear pathway to success, from cradle to college to career. Focused on inspiring a movement across citizens, community leaders, policy makers and beyond, My Brother’s Keeper has also implemented a Mentorship program, which currently sees over 25,000 adult mentors.
“Last year I had the opportunity to meet President Obama at the White House to talk about his My Brother’s Keeper initiative,” Pusha T said in a statement. “I’ll never forget him saying there’s nothing more important to the future of America than whether or not young people like you can achieve their dreams. I wouldn’t be where I am today if someone hadn’t looked out for me.”
Read Pusha T’s letter below:
“Dear Lil J,
Hi my name is Terrence “Pusha -T” Thornton. I saw your video and I’m really sorry that you are having to deal with people shooting guns and hurting others where you live. A lot of people can’t imagine how hard it is being a kid where you are from, If I were you, I would be scared too. But I thought it was very brave of you to speak up and try to help your family, friends, and community. There a lot of 6yr olds all over the United States who are scared just like you and guess who their Super Hero is…YOU!!
Your video really woke me up. You are a thoughtful and smart kid already at such a young age already, I can tell. You spoke so clearly but about something so terrible in gun violence and fear which is something no child should be speaking about with so much knowledge. I would much rather you taught me how to play video games or build a car or about the latest comic book you read and if you think Spiderman really is better than Batman. I know I can’t solve all of your problems at once but hopefully, this is a start. Hopefully, other men in our communities see this video and also realize that a 6-year-old boy just challenged us all to do better. No matter where we are in life we have to look out for the youth. As someone who’s familiar with places not too different from where you are, please believe me your options are endless and there is so much more to the world than your neighborhood. You have your life in front of you and you should enjoy every moment of it and more importantly LOOK FORWARD not behind you or around you and worry.
Since you like helping people I wanna help you. What I’m gonna do for you is make sure that you have the fun that every 6yr old should have this summer. I’m sending you, your cousins Janiya and Brandon to Six Flags Amusement Park in St Louis, I know you guys are gonna have the best time. When you arrive back, all of you will all start summer camp at the Boys and Girls club. All summer long you will be learning, playing, and meeting new friends. I heard that you love Spider Man so I’m gonna make sure that you will be one of the first to see new Spider-Man movie next month!! I also sent some things to your house for the times you aren’t away at camp. There are some games, books, an iPad and other toys to help you enjoy the summer and beyond. I can’t wait to hear about which books you liked better and which car was the fastest. I hope the package encourages you to learn new things and most importantly, imagine.
Lil J I want you to do me a favor and enjoy being 6 yrs old. Smile more than frown, explore without fear, learn uncontrollably, dream without limits.
P.S. I started this thing called a college fund for you…it’s for when you grow up a little, you don’t have to worry about it now but when you do need it, its there for you.
Terrence “Pusha -T” Thornton”