The highly noted rapper and business mogul Jay-Z’s entertainment company, Roc Nation, has agreed to a business partnership with the NFL (National Football League). Roc Nation entertainment company will help produce musical performances at major NFL events like the Super Bowl as well as promote social justice activism in the league. While it should go without saying this partnership is a notable and historically celebrated accomplishment for an African American, circumstances surrounding the blackballing of Colin Kaepernick by the NFL for taking a knee make this a highly controversial issue, especially among African Americans.
This partnership presents a highly tenuous situation when you look at the national support for Colin Kaepernick by many groups for kneeling to protest the blatant systemic injustices and police brutality visited upon people of color in this country. While claiming his actions are honorable, at the same time, Jay-Z’s motives seem suspect when the need for solidarity is a primary initiative to bring about effective change against social injustices.
Many find it ironic that Jay-Z (who has always given Kaepernick support in his courageous stance to promote and bring must needed social change) has now publically stated it is time to move from taking a knee to overt action. Many people thought kneeling was a non-violent and symbolic way of manifesting peaceful action and attention to a cause. This has brought about an avalanche of conflicting feelings by the public on Jay-Z’s true motives.
Does the pursuit of fame and more money override the significance and symbolic role that taking a knee brings attention to promoting social change in the United States by acknowledging that the flag does not cover all its citizens fairly? The attention and action of kneeling during the national anthem has made social injustice and police brutality a daily conversation no longer to be ignored. The action has encouraged and provoked change.
Jay-Z is being admonished and referred to as a hypocrite, a sellout, a Benedict Arnold and a Brutus by many Americans who see his move as treasonous to the Black Lives Matter Moment. It seems he is becoming associated with and becoming vetted with the NFL. The NFL’s owners have blatantly blackballed Colin Kapernick and shown disdain and indifferent to those exercising their Constitutional rights by taking a knee during the singing of the national anthem. Make no mistake, many of these owners have been accused of being blatant racists only interested in making more money. For the most part, they are oblivious to the suffering, pain, and injustices visited upon people of color. And to add insult to injury, they are taking their orders from what some would called the most immoral person on the face of the earth, Donald Trump. Now that should speak volumes.
On an optimistic note, it is possible for something good to come out of this marriage if Jay-Z can exert his influence to change the views of some of the owners of the NFL, especially if he is able to eventually co-own or obtain an NFL team. As a minority member at the table, he may be the voice needed and be able to effectuate empathy and compassion. This may help the NFL become a player in eradicating social injustices.
One must be mindful that many African Americans adamantly feel this partnership is all about money and Jay-Z pursuing his own selfish agenda, especially since Colin Kaepernick still remains blackballed by the NFL and is without a job. Jay-Z has created a humongous schism in the Black community, especially with those loyal to Colin Kaepernick and his rapper friends such as Puffy, Cardi B, Freddie Gibbs and loyal fans.
It seems the oldest tactic used by oppressors is at work: ‘divide and conquer.’ The conduit for systemic social change is in the power of our unity in combating the NFL’s practice of penalizing, chastising, and blackballing players protesting the flag when they take a knee. Contrary to what critics may say, kneeling during the national anthem is a peaceful and symbolic way to express that the national flag does not cover all its American citizens. The action brings attention to social injustices disproportionately visited upon people of color.
However you may feel, maybe it is best to take a wait and see if Jay-Z’s role in the NFL can bring about real, legitimate social change and also help to get Kaepernick hired.