Rapper and entrepreneur Jay Z found inspiration from the activist organizations Southerners on New Ground and Color of Change’s successful fundraising campaign that funded the bailout of incarcerated mothers on Mother’s Day. In the last portion of Jay Z’s eloquent, albeit brief, Time magazine essay about the oppressive bailout process of the American jail system, he wrote, “Last month for Mother’s Day, organizations like Southerners on New Ground and Color of Change did a major fundraising drive to bail out 100 mothers for Mother’s Day. Color of Change’s exposé on the for-profit bail industry provides deeper strategy behind this smart and inspiring action. This Father’s Day, I’m supporting those same organizations to bail out fathers who can’t afford the due process our democracy promises. As a father with a growing family, it’s the least I can do, but philanthropy is not a long fix, we have to get rid of these inhumane practices altogether. We can’t fix our broken criminal justice system until we take on the
exploitative bail industry.”
Jay Z is also the producer of the six-part documentary series, “Time: The Kalief Browder Story,” highlighting the story of a 16-year-old young man who committed suicide after being incarcerated at Riker’s Island waiting for a trial that never occurred. Browder suffered horrific beatings and two years in solitary confinement before he took his own life.
With the arrival of Carter’s twin children, and his massive investment in Kalief Browder’s life story, he took the initiative to affect the lives of other men who experience a combination of Jay and Browder’s experiences: fatherhood and incarceration.
D. Watkins, op-ed writer and author of “The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir,” wrote about Jay Z’s philanthropic act, commenting, “Civic leaders, both elected and self-appointed, often don’t fully understand these issues because they don’t have proximity to people who live through these horrific acts. As a result, they don’t know or care about what people really need. Jay Z is well aware of these issues because his industry (rap) is full of people who come from neighborhoods that have understandably lost faith in our justice system. That proximity gives him a daily reminder of how racist America can be and a clearer understanding of what needs to be done.”
It has truly been a long time since a Black leader has taken direct initiative to fight mass incarceration. Besides Colin Kaepernick, our country has not seen Black men in music and entertainment voicing their opinions and aligning their behavior and their finances in the fight against white supremacy. We hope to see Jay Z continue his great work.