After it was revealed that Jay Z along with his wife, Beyoncé, secretly wired tens of thousands of dollars to bail out protesters in Baltimore and Ferguson, the critical thinking-challenged hosts of Fox & Friends threw a fit.
The tone was very “How dare these Black people help other Black people?”
First there was Elizabeth Hasselbeck, who noted that the Carters also donated to the Obama campaign. I assume she tried to make some sort of connection between the two, and all I have to say to that is, God bless the foolish. The former co-host of The View went on to add, “If you like it, then I guess you put the bail for it.”
Some script writer thinks he or she is clever.
The other two (let’s just call them Ren and Stimpy, though they are unworthy of the association) went on to note the “lawless” protesters as if they weren’t reacting to the long-proven problem of police brutality and racial profiling. Meanwhile, most of the protests in Baltimore were peaceful. Then again, why bother with accuracy and context when you’re tickling the racial prejudices of your aging core demographic?
Whenever rich people try to help the marginalized, it is a good thing. It should not be condemned or misrepresented. That said, the nitwits of faux news are not the only people with an ax to grind against Jay Z. In some respects, Jay Z is damned if he do, damned if he don’t. Many push him to be more politically minded, though at his core, Jay Z is just a hyper-capitalist.
It’s senseless to expect much humility from a person who goes by the name “Hova.” Likewise, it’s not at all surprising to realize that an ultra-wealthy celebrity is detached, thus not the most self-aware and very much prone to saying the worst thing at the most inopportune time. That doesn’t make Jay Z’s perceived mistakes any less forgivable.
So, like many, I booed and hissed at the roll-out of Jay Z’s music streaming TIDAL. It reeked of hubris and the idea of parading it as some sort of “revolution” was grating to the nerves. Then there was Jay Z taking to Twitter to defend himself — on the morning after unrest in Baltimore commanded national media attention. There was also that recent freestyle at his B-sides concert, which featured lines about the deaths of Black men like Michael Brown and Freddie Gray that were then followed with shots at YouTube and Google. The comparison of those tragedies to his interests was irksome, but I do think for all these slight missteps, it’s worth noting Jay Z has lent his fortune to causes that matter.
I distinctly remember Harry Belafonte calling on Jay Z and Beyoncé to use their celebrity for social activism, and though they are not on his level by any stretch of the imagination, they are taking more active stands. Jay Z may not have put on a Black Lives Matter t-shirt himself because he said they didn’t have his size, but he did help coordinate LeBron James and other NBA players wearing “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts following the death of Eric Garner. Moreover, he has been asked by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to consult on policing. He’s also made statements about better policing and the problem with racial profiling.
I’m no Jay Z apologist, but I do feel when those are called to do more and actually begin to do so, there is something to be said of a learning curve. The same can be said of having realistic expectations about what an individual is capable of doing. Can he stand to learn better timing? Surely. Should he not conflate his business problems with the deaths of our fallen young Black men and women? Absolutely. But is he doing something important by writing checks and at least trying to use his influence for something?
Yes — and it beats the silence from a few years ago.