"Sellout or $ale Out?"
If you haven't heard, it's all the buzz Rap Mogul & new Billionaire Jay-Z just partnered with the NFL to help bring awareness to social justice through music and entertainment. On Aug 14th the NFL and RocNation announced a partnership that would essentially be the NFL's answer to the player's protest during the national anthem that was largely initiated by still out of work former San Francisco 49ers Quarterback Colin Kaepernick. An invitation only press conference was held with NFL Commissioner Roger Godell and RocNation Founder and Rap Mogul Jay-Z to discuss some of the specifics of this partnership. According to some reports video recordings or photos taken or even social media coverage of this event by invited media were not allowed, which I believe was a direct way to control the messaging for this press conference. However, we were able to see a clip of this meeting provided by Brother Ben X on Facebook. Here is the link to see this brief video clip. In this clip Jay-Z is responding to a question from Charlemagne the God; co-host of Hot 97's The Breakfast Club Radio Show. His question to Jay-Z, was, "how can you partner with the NFL on social justice and Colin Kaepernick who brought the attention of social justice to the masses through his taking a knee protest is still out of a job?" Jay-Z's answer was, “I think that we forget that Colin’s whole thing was to bring attention to social injustice, correct?” ... “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.” So, the league essentially heard what Colin was saying during his protest and this partnership is the answer. However, the part the struck me the most in his answer to Charlemagne's question was the latter part of it where he said, here is an opportunity for us to reach millions or for us to continue to get stuck on the part about Colin not having a job in the NFL as QB. Really?!?!? This is the same Jay-Z who before this partnership with the NFL went on Saturday Night Live in support of Colin Kaepernick's protest wearing his No.7 49ers jersey performing his new song ApeSh$t where he says, "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." Which in our mind was Jay-Z telling the NFL that he has just as much power and influence as they do, and that's why according to Jemele Hill; Staff Writer for The Atlantic and Radio Host of "Jemele Hill Is Unbothered" podcast said that this was the NFL's checkmate move to Jay-Z and to Colin Kaepernick in her newest article entitled "Jay-Z Helped the NFL Banish Colin Kaepernick." You can read her entire article right here.
What's also interesting about the clip of Jay-Z's answer to Charlemagne's question is that you don't see or hear anything that Commissioner Roger Goodell said about the partnership and in part because video camera recording was not allowed in the room at the time of the press conference (but how was this video captured?!?!) Nevertheless, when you look at the body language of Goodell as Jay-Z is fielding questions from the invited media he seems to me to be quietly celebrating this open victory for the NFL, because now the focus is off him and what is the NFL going to do about the players kneeling during the National Anthem, and now its about Jay-Z becoming not just the NFL's answer but also the NFL's scapegoat. In this video Jay-Z look visibly uncomfortable by some of the questions, he should have been expecting given the nature of the press conference and the new partnership that was being announced. I mean, he had to know that someone was going to bring up Colin Kaepernick and was he in any way involved in the discussions of this partnership, did you consider Kaepernick at all in your decision making process with the league; I mean these are questions he should have expected. In fact, after Jay-Z asked whether we should focus on reaching millions through this partnership or remain stuck on Colin not having a job, it was a white reporter in the room, who asked Jay-Z did you just hear what you said? And, it was at the point that he really looked visibly disturbed by this. Here, at least, it appeared that he was being called out for seemingly insensitive comments about the livelihood of another black man. Grant it, Colin reached a settlement deal with the NFL for an undisclosed amount in the lawsuit that he filed against the league, but money really wasn't the crux of the reporter's angst as much as it was still apart of it. The crux of the reporter's angst was in so many words, Jay; Colin is the reason we all are sitting her at the table, particularly you and Roger Goodell announcing a new multi-billion dollar partnership with the NFL and you sound as if you don't care at all about the man who made this all possible. And, the fact that a White man brought to this to the attention of a not just another black man but a "socially conscious" Black man about another "socially conscious" Black man speaks volumes for me. Inasmuch, as here lately it seems that White America has been painted as a cold, callous, and calculating group of people, because of people like President Trump and the entire Republican Party; who have spawned this racial divide in America. And now it seems one of there own have called out the foibles of who we consider "Black Royalty."
In Roland Martin's Unfiltered Internet News Show, he, Jemele Hill and and Mark Thompson host of MakeItPlain Radio Show on Sirius XM who was also an invited media guest in this exclusive media event. In this clip below Roland, Jemele and Mark discuss the real implications of this partnership as well as what they believe is really going on, and that is the NFL played Jay-Z. And, if this is true you have to wonder why Jay-Z put himself in this position and also to wonder how naive is Jay-Z really not to think that this partnership would not come off as him being portrayed to look like a proverbial sellout. Of all people he should have been able to see this one coming it should've have been Jay-Z. If I were Jay-Z, negotiations with the NFL would have began and ended wit this statement, if you want my influence, if we want to use my name, if we want me to be part of this partnership for social justice, then you have got to guarantee me that Colin Kaepernick is going to have a legitimate opportunity to be a QB in the NFL again. Period and point blank. I would've expected this from Jay-Z, because of the shrewd business man that he claims to be and especially, given, as Jemele Hill put it her in article, . "...He has consistently used his platform to have critical conversations and bring awareness to the inequalities and injustices that black people regularly face. Jay-Z brilliantly put into perspective how the war on drugs disproportionately hurt blacks and Latinos. He executive-produced a riveting six-part documentary series on the slain teen Trayvon Martin that aired on BET last summer. He also produced a miniseries on Kalief Browder, who was falsely imprisoned at New York’s Rikers Island for three years, starting when he was 16 years old, for allegedly stealing a backpack. Browder died by suicide a year after he was released. Jay-Z’s foundation has funded countless initiatives related to education and professional development. He has also donated millions to so many causes that he is one of the most important humanitarians in the world. " And, in his Jay's defense, I will agree with Jemele that he has put his imprint of social consciousness not just in his words or his music, but in his actions, which is why is it even the more puzzling why he would put himself in this very precarious position with the NFL. How did all of this get passed him? How did he happen to miss the fact that this partnership could be viewed as a shakedown or a whitewash, and you have been duped into believing that you are apart of the solution, when you are really apart of the problem. Or, did he take into account all of those things and made the deal with the league anyway. If so, there's your answer on what Jay-Z is now; a shill for the NFL, a pawn in the leagues game of chess, nothing more, nothing less. And, its sad to have all of that influence, the biggest platform in the world and this is what you decide to do with it.
Jay-Z was also asked had it talked with Kaepernick before or after negotiating the deal with the league and he said he had, which gave some pause with regards to the merits of his claim. You mean to tell us you talked with Colin about this deal that didn't include him, but was ultimately because of him and then you wouldn't tell the reporter what was his response to the news about the partnership. The waters are getting quite muddy Mr. Carter, and the more you talk the more you sound like not just the puppet of the NFL, but you sound like the manufactured villain constructed by the league to make them look good and you look horribly bad. And, after looking at the video of the press conference they definitely didn't do you any favors whatsoever, It really looks to me like Roger is laughing to himself, because he was able to convince the Rap Mogul who infamously claimed to not need the NFL to not only come aboard but become the pseudo league spokesperson as well. Genius! It's like they said how can we not only talk Jay-Z into this, but get him to do our bidding to the media and ultimately to everybody else, and we just sit back and watch the sparks fly. According to Hill's article, " Kaepernick’s girlfriend, Nessa Diab, wrote on Twitter that Kaepernick didn’t speak with Jay-Z before he brokered his deal with the NFL. Jay-Z said yesterday that he spoke to Kaepernick on Monday, but he wouldn’t divulge how their conversation went... A source close to Kaepernick, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic, told me, “It was not a good conversation.”
To add yet another twist to this story, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson is releasing his next book this coming November and it's about...you guessed it, Jay-Z. It's called "Made in America" According to the book description on Amazon, "This book wrestles with the biggest themes of JAY-Z's career, including hustling, and it recognizes the way that he’s always weaved politics into his music, making important statements about race, criminal justice, black wealth and social injustice. As he enters his fifties, and to mark his thirty years as a recording artist, this is the perfect time to take a look at JAY-Z’s career and his role in making this nation what it is today. In many ways, this is JAY-Z’s America as much as it’s Pelosi’s America, or Trump’s America, or Martin Luther King’s America. JAY-Z has given this country a language to think with and words to live by." And, of course now that this book is coming out, we would like to know what Dr. Dyson's thinks of Jay's partnership with the NFL. I missed his interview on CNN recently, when he discussed this controversy first-hand, but according to what people are posting on twitter who have seen the interview, He seems to have come out in defense of Jay-Z's move to partner with the league. Below is sampling of the response from the Twitterverse regarding Dr. Dyson's comments on CNN.
So my thought is how much of what Dr. Dyson said does he actually believe to be truth and how much of it is what he feels he needs to do to sell his book this November? I'm sure he would probably say that he doesn't need to sell another book, and that his opinion is what he actually believes truthfully and completely. But, one wonders is that really what he believes. Only time will tell. And, that is what I will say about this partnership. The reason I titled this blog "Sellout or $ale Out" is to lay out the facts, and to really leave up to you the reader to formulate your own opinion of what happened here. But notice how one speaks to the character of the person, and the other speaks to the perceived outcome of the deal, which one are you in favor of. To me it sounds like, at least, from Jay's own words that he's more in favor of reaching millions of people than getting stuck on whether Colin has a job or not. And, then he took a step further to say that we are passed kneeling now, it's time for action. So, let me get this straight, police brutality is continuing to happen across the country, we have a President that spews out racist venom and vitriol on a daily basis, we have domestic terrorist who are essentially emissaries of the President keeping the nation on the proverbial edge, and Mr. Carter says that we are passed the point of kneeling, it's time for action. And, the action that he is proposing is social justice themed concerts during NFL games. Yeah, that's what Colin was thinking of when he took his first knee as a QB for the San Francisco 49ers. "We need to have more concerts." In a real sense, I believe that this is what the owners of the NFL really think about Black causes and social justice, just go somewhere and sing your way through it, we've given you your greatest minstrel and he's going to lead the charge completely away from us and what we did or didn't do, and ultimately take ownership of this social justice campaign for us. And, that is what in my opinion what makes Jay-Z look like a sellout; notice I didn't say that he was, but he is increasingly looking more and more like one the more he defends..I mean promotes this sham the NFL is calling a partnership.