BY JEANETTE LENOIR
Jay-Z traded his heroes for gold. It’s a strategy that’s worked since white men started dividing the earth for their own gain. And as such, for love of the almighty dollar and power, the former drug dealer turned hip-hop mogul sold his soul to the highest bidder adopting the tried and true approach of divide and conquer as old as mankind’s recorded history. The only difference between him and a slave on an auction block is that he put himself there to gain a bigger room in the master’s house; the NFL.
As America marks the 400th year since the first Africans arrived on her shores in 1619 as slaves, Jay-Z with his NFL money move disregarding the larger struggle for equality and justice, reminds us that the all mighty dollar still turns brother against sister and slave into slave catcher. The adage, money is the root of all evil, applies as it always has, and Jay-Z sits squarely on that throne in the black community. What compounds the hurt of this shameful deal is his relationship with Colin Kaepernick; a bona-fide modern day civil rights icon in the on-going struggle for justice and equality for black and brown people in America. How Jay-Z can sit in a room full of NFL bigwigs who control the big business of sports, teeth grinning and speaking ill of the struggle is an image not easily digested. Kaepernick sacrificed his career, gave millions to victims of police brutality and the less fortunate, took on the Goliath’s in the room Jay-Z just occupied for more gold coins he doesn’t need, and continues to fight to bring about peace and justice for minorities.
I am reminded of Shirley Graham Du Bois’s words when she discussed the plight of black people in Africa and America after the United Nations declared 1960 the year of Africa. Following the independence of Ghana in 1957, the country’s leaders came together to advocate for the independence of other African countries still under the thumb of European colonialism. The All African People’s Conference in 1958 was a movement that directly correlates with Kaepernick’s advocacy for victims of police brutality, while Jay-Z’s money grab represents the imperialists world with an incessant appetite for wealth and power despite how negatively it impacts others, especially black and brown people. In other words, if the money is enough, your injustice doesn’t matter. “We’re passed kneeling,” Jay-Z said ignorantly beaming like “a hateful negro” in a room full of his masters.
You see, it’s clear, Jay-Z forgot about The Reverend Martin Luther King’s words in his letter from Birmingham stating, “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor. It must be demanded by the oppressed.” He also forgot that MLK taught us that, “justice too long delayed, is justice denied.” Jay-Z, out for self and clouded by greed, forgot that as the world turns wrongs will be righted despite his disregard for others in the larger struggle for humanity, justice and equality. Like Judas, Jay-Z will undoubtedly answer for the betrayal of his people. The ongoing liberation of Africa is similar to the liberation of black and brown people in America but unfortunately, Jay-Z and his ilk will never co-sign to bring about peace and justice for black people unless the loot makes it worthwhile. Even Beyonce turned black when it became lucrative and popular culture. The SNL skit about her being black hit the nail right on the head. And, remember her L’Oreal commercial before she turned black? Back then her “true match” was Native American, French and black. Today, she’s the queen of Africa… Ok?
Shirley Graham Du Bois once said that one can fly a dozen national flags and sing a dozen national anthems but if your money is controlled by outsiders, you’re not free. And, that’s the ultimate truth of Jay-Z’s deal with the NFL and Beyonce’s new black. For the right price both have consistently played into the hands of those whose aim is to stop black progress in any direction. And, it speaks volume that his only supporters are other wealthy, out of touch black people like Sean Combs and Jermaine Dupri. In the meantime, Kaepernick remains resolute in his stance against police brutality and racism in America and for that, hope remains. Lastly, because symbolism matters, Jay-Z did more harm than good with this NFL deal and that symbolizes something far more powerful than all the money he plans on making or distributing when he signed up to be the real life “hateful negro”.