Entertainment company founded by Jay-Z, Roc Nation, and the NFL has partnered for elaborate entertainment programming and social activism but negative critics oppose the union calling it a ‘money grab’ and ‘banishment of Kaepernick’ — I humbly disagree.
Billionaire rapper and social activist Jay-Z announced a partnership with the NFL and his entertainment company, Roc Nation, which also houses a sports management division, Roc Nation Sports, founded in 2013. The sports management agency is the only black-owned agency of its kind — why? Because black entrepreneurs have unsuccessfully been able to invest in fields of business that exploit our physicality, talent and culture for financial gain.
Sports journalist Jemele Hill wrote an opinion piece on Jay-Z’s NFL dealings for The Atlantic stating:
“The former quarterback [Kaepernick] caused a problem for the league—which turned to [Jay-Z] the celebrated rapper for assistance. I don’t believe Jay-Z is a sellout, because his track record proves otherwise. But it does seem like he’s being used as cover.”Jemele Hill – The Atlantic
Eric Reid, former teammate of Colin Kaepernick and current Carolina Panthers player, followed that narrative by tweeting:
My question to both Reid and Hill would be: why does the NFL need Jay-Z’s black face to ‘hide behind’ when they can do that comfortably with 70% of the athletes that represent the NFL’s roster of players? Or even a better question: where is the black leadership representation in the NFL to better interpret how social injustices — that Colin Kaepernick was kneeling for — affects not only African-Americans in this country but over 70% of NFL players’ families and communities? I have a simple answer. Jay-Z should be able to enter that space because he’s been a true leader of the resistance for years.
Prolific author and academic Michael Eric Dyson wrote an elaborate piece with the Washington Post stating how similar debates were held on how Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X approached the civil rights movement in his piece ‘Jay-Z didn’t ‘sell out’ by dealing with the NFL. This is just how activism works.‘
“Kaepernick and Jay-Z are not the modern-day equivalents of Malcolm and King, but those pairs reflect an eternal tension — the outside agitators who apply pressure and the inside activators who patrol the halls of power, bringing knowledge and wisdom — in civil rights and black freedom movements.” Dyson continues, “The choice between Kaep and Jay, between Malcolm and King, is a false one. We need all of them, and it is far too early to judge what Jay will make of this opportunity with the NFL.”Michael Eric Dyson | The Washington Post
Jay-Z — the same man who recently sent 200,000 lbs. of supplies to help Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria, bailed out citizens of the resistance in Baltimore & Ferguson for an alliance with ‘Black Lives Matter’, assisted 21 Savage in his immigration arrest, hired lawyers for family held at gunpoint by police for a ‘stolen doll’ — is being questioned by people who haven’t been nearly more vocal or active about activism, oppression and social injustices in this country.
On the 2018 collaborative hit with wife, Beyoncé, entitled “APESH*T‘ (where they also showed their own powerful subversion in the music video) Jay-Z raps on his verse after bringing awareness to Kaepernick’s kneeling movement and encouraging an NFL boycott:
I said no to the Super Bowl / you need me, I don’t need you /
Every night we in the end zone / tell the NFL we in stadiums too
The line is inherently true … still. Jay-Z is an accomplished leader in the community of social injustice and police reform with funded documentaries regarding cases like Kalief Browder and Trayvon Martin. We need discourse on this movement in all powerful, public American platforms to further address and expound the Civil Rights Act of 1968 which is presently being disregarded by the Trump Administration — only 51 years later.
Just days after the official NFL partnership announcement reports circulated that Jay-Z was in meetings to discuss ownership of an NFL team. Many took a step-back as to what that would particularly mean for Colin Kaepernick’s absence from the league. Those rumors were dispel as Rapper Killer Mike went on political commentator Bill Maher‘s HBO show, Real Time with Bill Maher, to discuss the partnership:
“JAY-Z’s play — I believe — not only gives us a seat at the table … it doesn’t destroy what Kaepernick kneeled for,” he said. “What he kneeled for was proper treatment of us by state agent, by police. That does not end with him getting a job. The same way him kneeling is not an insult to the military.” he continued, “It is, as an American, asserting your first amendment rights, saying something is wrong … I believe if JAY-Z becomes a team owner, Kaep gets his tryout.”Killer Mike | Real Time with Bill Maher
I, not only agree with Killer Mike, I also believe we shouldn’t be so quick to criticize people like Jay-Z when players like Eric Reid is still standing with Kaepernick while also standing on an NFL team. Jay-Z is not helping the NFL banish Colin Kaepernick — we’re still discussing why his political protest is important and Jay-Z is the perfect person to the keep this conversation going in the right direction.
Terrell Johnson is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of SWGRUS.