On the 13th of August, 2019, the NFL announced that it had signed a deal with Jay-Z’s music company Rocknation. The deal basically gives Roc Nation the power to choose and give directives on the artists that would be performing at the famous Super Bowl. The partnership also allows Jay Z to be an important part of a social justice program between the NFL players and the NFL board.
The moment the news hit the media on the 13th, people around the country went angry with Jay-Z’s decision to sign a deal with the NFL, since every other Black artist was boycotting the NFL because of its mistreatment of Colin Kaepernick.
The case and rift between the NFL and Colin Kaepernick started in 2016, when he refused to stand for the national anthem, and knelt down in protest. He led a couple of players in kneeling, which was a protest against reckless and racist police shootings of Black men in America.
His protest sparked up more discussions on police brutality, race, freedom of expression and activism among many other issues. Even President Trump was seen on twitter making angry comments about their style of protest and supposed disrespect to the American flag. Many people in anger about the protest and the events that followed boycotted the N.F.L and its games because they felt the NFL board was witch-hunting Colin Kaepernick for his participation in the protests.
Colin Kaepernick’s protest came with consequences from white America, and those that call the shots at the NFL. He has since not been able to get a job at the NFL. There was a case which he had against the NFL for collusion.
There has been a lot of heat around his protest, and for good reason, the Black community is solidly behind him. The NFL for some time has had difficulties convincing many Black artistes to perform at their halftime show. Rihanna and Cardi B are among the many stars who turned down the invite to perform at the Super bowl. They all were all the side of Colin Kaepernick and the Black community.
Jay Z, also, in allegiance to Colin Kaepernick threw a few rap jabs at the NFL. At his performance at Saturday Night Live, he wore Kaepernick’s jersey. While performing his song “Apeshit,” he said: “Once 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.”
This showed that he was solidly behind Colin Kaepernick and what he was protesting for. So Jay-Z coming back now to dine with the NFL was a move that may in the Black community did not understand. He got a lot of backlash fo the decision to sign a deal with the NFL.
But in his reaction to comments, he expressed that it was time for Black people to do more than just protest. He mentioned that he had spoken to Colin Kaepernick before the signing of the agreement with the NFL, but it seems the talk between Jay Z and Colin Kaepernick didn’t go well.
Defending his position, Jay Z had this to say:
“I think that we forget that Colin’s whole thing was to bring attention to social injustice, correct?” Jay-Z said during the press conference. “So, in that case, this is a success; this is the next thing. ’Cause 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?’ So, for me, it was like, action, actionable item, what are we going to do with it? Everyone heard and we hear what you’re saying, and everybody knows I agree with what you’re saying. So what are we going to do? So we should, millions of millions of people, and all we get stuck on [is] Colin not having a job. I think we’re past kneeling. I think it’s time for action.”
In as much Jay Z is trying to build a bridge with this deal, many in the Black community feel he should have advocated for Colin Kaepernick to get a job at the NFL before taking the deal. Many feel he was after money and business position instead of standing for a brother.
There are those who also feel that Roc Nation’s involvement in the Social justice program of the NFL is a win-win for both Colin Kaepernick and other Black players. This is because Jay-Z has been at the forefront of fighting for social justice for the Black community, with his impeccable array of lawyers.
Is Jay-Z a Sellout?
Of course not. We do not think he is a sell-out. He can’t be. Not after all he is doing for the African-American and Latino community in America. Through his platform, he has brought up the important and pressing conversation about the issues of inequality and injustice against the Black community.
One of his major projects on portraying injustice was his production of a touching documentary on the killing of the teenager Treyvon Martin that was aired on BET in the summer of last year (2018). But that is just one of the documentaries he has produced to shed light on the plights of the Black man in America.
There is a major stain on the NFL, and that is the fact that many of its team owners are Trump supporters. And President Trump has not taken it lightly on Colin Kaepernick’s protest – so the Black community feels that the president and the white team owners are still all part of the oppressive system that frustrates the Black man.
There is a huge sentiment in the Black community associated with any Black man who dines and wines with white politicians and companies who expressively victimizes Black people. That scenario is where Jay-Z has found himself; although he might not have had the intentions of hurting the feelings of Colin Kaepernick or the Black community.
The NFL, in an attempt to save face, would do anything to show that it is not bullying or victimizing Colin Kaepernick. So this is where Jay-Z comes in. knowingly or unknowingly, Jay-Z now serves as a cover for the NFL’s mistreatment of Colin Kaepernick and other Black players. In as much as he is genuinely going in to act as a bridge, the NFL is most likely doing this for business sake. We say this because the money will most likely be small compared to the reputation that Jay Z has put in the line for this deal.
So let us all hope that this deal will get Colin Kaepernick a Job at the NFL and also work at bettering the relationship between the white owners of the NFL teams and the Black players.