Deifying celebrities is not an option. Being an apologist is not in the cards. By the same token I like dude, really enjoy his music and what he’s been able to leverage because of his accomplishments and prowess. That being said, his latest business deal leaves a lot to be desired. Had the deal been simply a merger of two powerhouse entities, Roc Nation, the entertainment conglomerate founded by hip-hop mogul and businessman Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, entering into a multiyear partnership with the NFL to enhance the NFL’s live game experiences is brilliant. The bravado and swag that fortify his musical persona was on full blast when he declared on the single “Apesh#t!!”: “I said no to the Superbowl, you need me, I don’t need you. Every night we in the end zone, tell the NFL we in stadiums too.”
Coming on the heels of refusing to partake in the half-time performance of one of the biggest sports extravaganza on the globe, the Superbowl, to now being able to advise on the selection of artists for major NFL performances, including the Superbowl, produce and promote new material AND get a check?! Gangsta!! Here’s where it gets dicey. Along with the talent aspects of the deal comes the additional job description which will see the Roc Nation staff handle the chores of social activism. Fans of the league know that aside from cancer and maybe international incidents that assault the core of American patriotism, nothing of the outside world is of meaning or concern. Then along came Kaepernick. Questions abound about the motivating factors of his actions, but taking a knee on the field while pledging allegiance to ole glory, awakened and/or infuriated this nation. Three years later and the NFL have yet to forgive and forget and Kapernick sits on the outside looking in, while he sits in prime physical condition awaiting an opportunity to prove his worth as a player.
When asked about Kaepernick being ostracized, Jay gave a somewhat dismissive imperial decree with, “I think we’ve moved past kneeling. I think it’s time to go into actionable items. We forget that Colin’s whole thing was to bring attention to social injustice. In that case, this is a success. This is the next phase,” he explained. “There’s two parts of protesting. You go outside and you protest, and then the company or the individual says, ‘I hear you. What do we do next? Everyone heard, we hear what you’re saying, and everybody knows I agree with what you’re saying, now what are we gonna do?’ You know what I’m saying? So do we help millions and millions of people, or we get stuck on Colin not having a job.”
Those words behind the optics of Jay and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell did not make for a pretty picture. It in fact raised the ire in a large segment of the community. An exert from an essay from my sister in arms, Zain Beyond Words, reads, “Our standards are so low, that we drool over anyone who dangles crumbs of liberation and crown them as royalty and when their ‘boss moves’ don’t fly amongst their ‘conscious minions,’ our people try to justify foolishness with being ‘genius’ or ‘elusive,’ to avoid raising the bar of self and those they appoint to positions of leadership. Your continued support of the NFL justifies your oppressor’s argument that Black people are childlike, in fact too childlike to collectively fight for our self-preservation. The NFL is toying with Black people, because they still see us as children they need to lure back to the playground and plantation. As a people, we cannot earn the respect of external powers if we cannot exert the power to respect ourselves. Ultimately, our people are diseased by the obsession with being consumers and the unwillingness to liberate ourselves.”
A severe test to the social activism component of the new venture is looming. In Florida the trial over the murder of Markeis McGlockton is set to begin. This case is a tragic stand your ground case scenario that usually doesn’t play out too well on our end. If that goes the way they do typically, then do we start to hear chirps of games not being played in the state of Florida? Word has it the next Super Bowl will be played there. Hmmmmmm…
Over and out. Holla next week. Til then enjoy the nightlife. Except Sunday when the best show on television, “Power,” returns to the airwaves.