Jay-Z’s Call To “Action”!

Is shifting responsibility for police brutality to victims and selling merch the “actions” we’ve been waiting for?

Photo by Joshua McKnight from Pexels

There are pseudo-woke individuals who either play the game for fame and money or hide their white privilege/supremacy in “live and love” cliched hippie jargon (*cough Alyssa Milano). Then there’s…

Jay-Z? What is he doing? What is he saying? He is piling fiasco on top of fiasco. His deal with the NFL screams ‘sellout’, his comments about police interactions scream ‘victim blaming’ and he is causing untold damage in public perception to his name, brand and community.

Let’s first go back to when Colin Kaepernick (Kap) who, wanting to draw attention to police brutality against Black people began to sit during the national anthem in 2016. After speaking with people who have served in the military, he began to “take a knee” during the anthem — as per their suggestion.

Despite this, it blew up and the dialogue shifted from the real threat of police violence toward the Black community that has taken innumerable lives, to “protesting the national anthem”, “disrespecting the flag and the military” — a common tactic to shift the conversation from something substantially important to something inconsequential.

Yes, compared with lives lost, offense at the supposed disrespect of a symbol is inconsequential.

In 2017, after Kap became a free agent no other team would sign him and many, including Kap, felt he had been purposely shut out of the NFL. During that time, Jay-Z was team Kap. He criticized the NFL for their treatment of Kap, sporting Kap’s jersey and even supposedly declining to perform at the Super Bowl to show his support for Colin Kaepernick.

It seems, however, that something has significantly changed and while financially it may be better for Jay-Z, the damage he is doing to his reputation may soon be irreparable.

Photo by Thomas Serer on Unsplash

Jay-Z, with his Roc Nation company is collaborating with the NFL with their Inspire Change program that will be launching apparel — it’s unclear how much of the money for sales goes to these various organizations they are raising money for — as well as a program called Songs of Season that will debut new songs from artists like Meek Mill, Megan Trainor and Rapsody — where all the money will be donated. These will be played during broadcasts and there will also be “Beyond the Field”, where NFL players will voice their views on various issues.

When asked about this union and Kap Jay-Z’s statement was:

“I think we’ve moved past kneeling, and I think it’s time to go into actionable items.”

The responses online have not been kind.

Photo by Thomas Serer on Unsplash

It’s clear what’s in it for the NFL.

The 2019 Super Bowl was the lowest viewed in 11 years and as they are consistently in the middle of social issues, from taking a knee in protest to domestic violence, their numbers both in views and attendance continues to fluctuate. Rather, it’s their response to these issues that gives them backlash and further stains their already spattered legacy.

They need to try and win back the people, especially people of particular demographics; nothing does that better than bringing in a Black man, particularly one who was once vocal about being against them.

Though the NFL is claiming to help all these organizations, it’s clear they are motivated solely to win people back who they lost based on their treatment of players taking a knee.

After all, there is still no discussion about the offensive changing the Washington Redskins (offensive term for Native people), name and imagery because not enough people are raising hell about it. When they do the NFL will surely launch an initiative to “atone”.

“Beyond the Field” is equally questionable. Players will share their views, but will players really be able to say what they feel? Could a player say that white people need to do more to acknowledge their privilege in a white supremacist society? Or will they be forced to say “we all need to do more”? Will they be able to call out police and departmental failure? How censored will their views be?

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

For Jay-Z the reason is likely financial. He is a businessman. He had to have known that there would be many people horrified at his choice, but he is getting a lucrative deal and will also have a majority stake in an NFL team, which may likely be how they won him over.

There were people, however, including myself, who wanted to believe there was more to Jay-Z’s end, or rather what he would be doing. But, though Jay-Z claims he spoke with Kap about the deal, it may not be the case. So even more are upset this fact and wondering why part of his deal did not negotiate to get Kap back on a team.

To play devil’s advocate, perhaps Kap’s deal — when he settled his lawsuit with the NFL — was that he would receive a certain amount of cash and still not be allowed on any team. If that is the case, there’s little, possibly, that Jay-Z can do.

Still people are hopeful that Jay-Z, who will have controlling interest in a team, may bring Kap onto said team.

Unfortunately, it’s not just Jay-Z’s actions but his words that are worrying people.

After the “we need to move past kneeling” statement Jay-Z spoke on police brutality and claimed there’s a connection between growing up in a one-parent household, having a problem with authority and police brutality.

These excuses, that far too many people latch on to, of blaming the actions or words of Black people when dealing with cops detracts from the responsibility the cops have in their actions.

Just women dressing or acting a particular way does not prevent assault, speaking a certain way will not change police brutality. The issue for sexual assault lies with the mentality of the predatory male just like the issue with police brutality lies with the violent, racist cop.

It lies in these people’s belief that women and skin is indicator of inferiority; something to be mistreated and discarded because they are less than. It’s not our behavior by how we are perceived based on physical characteristics that are beyond our control that determine our treatment.

Their mentality needs to change so their behavior can change. The problem is them, not us.

Does Jay-Z really think there are no white families that have one-parent households? Does he really think there’s no white person who has ever said “fuck you” to the police? Assuredly, there are. We just don’t hear about it because that behavior doesn’t end in their death.

We need our people in positions of power to do more than just pushed capitalism as a way to effect change. Capitalism has always existed and it has always negatively impacted non-white groups. This is not the “actions” we need.

What should happen is the NFL should ensure Kap plays on a team first and foremost. You cannot effectively change anything without addressing the mistakes previously made.

These actions are an example of what the U.S. does as a whole. They simply move past their wrongs without addressing the damage that is still felt today. So injustice continues to thrive and we continue to raise our voices in defiance.

In the end, we’ll have to just wait and hope that Jay-Z has something up his sleeve that we are not seeing. But for now, this looks and feels wrong.

Multi-ethnic creative non-binary. Spouts nonsense that occasionally makes sense. she/her/they/them

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