Keep It Real, Jay-Z, Is It Really That Difficult To Understand The Occupy Movement?

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Jay-Z Occupy Wall St.Jay-Z (pictured) has proven himself knowledgable about many things, but apparently the Occupy Wall Street Movement leaves him flabbergasted. In a New York Times magazine profile, the rapper-turned-mogul questioned the purpose of the loosely (at best) organized group of protestors, wondering what exactly is it that they’re trying to do. The long lover of capitalism also seems to take issue with what he considers a demonization of the wealthy.

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In the interview, Jay-Z said:

What’s the thing on the wall, what are you fighting for? I’m not going to a park and picnic, I have no idea what to do, I don’t know what the fight is about. What do we want, do you know?

As for his need for clarity, he added:

When you just say that ‘the one percent is that,’ that’s not true. Yeah, the 1 percent that’s robbing people, and deceiving people, these fixed mortgages and all these things, and then taking their home away from them, that’s criminal, that’s bad. Not being an entrepreneur. This is free enterprise. This is what America is built on.

Speaking of clarity, perhaps he might have wanted to figure out what Occupy Wall Street was about before he personally rocked and profited from a line of T-shirts boasting the phrase “Occupy All Streets.” I distinctly remember him being called out about it after he refused to share any of the profits with the protestors whose idea he appropriated.

Much like Nicki Minaj’s Mitt Romney plug-in, with her “sarcastic” rap line on Lil’ Wayne’s latest mixtape, “Dedication 4,” what we have here is a rapper whispering conservative ideology. It just goes to show you how far the culture has shifted from the voice of the voiceless – i.e. those at the bottom of the socioeconomic totem pole – to a field where its biggest stars not only reach the 1 percent of earners in this country, but willfully vomit out their talking points.

Even still, Jay-Z is well within his right to feel however he chooses about the Occupy Wall Street movement and their point of view; however, let’s not pretend it’s painfully hard to figure out what exactly the OWS point of view is.

Jay-Z isn’t the first person to articulate these sentiments, but this idea that it’s so hard to pinpoint what the OWS movement is about always reads as lazy.

The Occupy Guitarmy, a subset of the OWS Music Working group, says it plans to offer a “sincere answer to Jay’s question” as they stop by the Barclays Center on September 28 for his sold-out concert.

The group offered a preview on its Tumblr page:

We have spent one year on the streets organizing for exactly the things Jay rapped about in his early days, ending urban poverty, ending Stop & Frisk and police use of lethal force, of returning dignity and hope to the everyday people of New York City. These are simple civil rights issues we know Jay-Z must support, and we would love to help open his heart and mind to the work Occupy has helped do in his own former  communities.

This is not to say that the Occupy Wall Street movement doesn’t deserve criticism. There has been legitimate critiques as to why the group hasn’t kept any real account of its supporters, which could have done more in the way of mobilizing people to press politicians to push for legislation that would lead to the kind of meaningful, long-term change they’re seeking.

And many were not amused to read about accusations of racism by some of its supporters. Or as Racialicious has pointed out previously, they were “disgusted by the amount of White protesters who happily waved signs likening student loan debt to slavery, with seemingly no thought to how the co-option of slavery rhetoric might look to Black protesters.”

Then there was that bit of a “duh, fool” element in Occupy Atlanta protestors, snubbing Congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis (D-GA) from speaking at one of their events.

Still, collectively, the group is more inclusive than others, and even in their mistakes, their mission hasn’t been that hard to figure out even if their methodology leaves a lot to be desired for some.

Obviously, Occupy Wall Street is an open-ended movement speaking against a multifaceted problem: economic inequality. They’ve never argued against wealth, only the ways in which many obtain it and the consequences everyone else has had to face because of it. But even though I don’t understand what’s taken some folks so long, hopefully I’ve helped clear the confusion up.

Sound off!

Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer and blogger. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick

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