Critics of Jay-Z’s controversial partnership with the NFL were still feeling the sting weeks after what they said was the rapper’s a sneak attack against Colin Kaepernick’s existing social justice movement that had recently begun to make tangible progress. Even the out of work quarterback himself seemed to suggest that Jay was trying to “erase the movement” with the partnership that seemed to immediately render his national anthem kneeling protest irrelevant and justify the NFL’s apparent collusion against Kaepernick.
But when months’ old video footage recently resurfaced to show Jay-Z appearing to blame single parent households for negative police relations with Black people, it only exacerbated what David Dennis Jr. said already felt like “a gut punch.”
The revelation of Jay’s fateful words that January day when he, Meek Mill and other VIPs launched the Reform Alliance to address criminal justice issues have now come back to haunt him after critics said the NFL deal combined with his past comments put the partnership in its proper perspective.
Some even likened Jay-Z’s social commentary in addition to his alignment with a group of white men accused of keeping a Black man unemployed over political reasons to Bill Cosby’s infamous “Pound Cake Speech,” where he publicly shamed and blamed low-income Black people for what he saw as their betrayal to progress made during the civil rights movement.
In retrospect, the speech by Cosby in 2005 was the beginning of his downfall, powered in part by many Black folks took umbrage at what they said as the comedian airing Black people’s dirty laundry in public.
“Looking at the incarcerated, these are not political criminals. These are people going around stealing Coca Cola,” Cosby said at the time before making a reference to how he saw the Black family structure. “People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake! Then we all run out and are outraged, ‘The cops shouldn’t have shot him!’ What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand? (laughter and clapping)”
The public’s reaction to Cosby’s words at the time and the public’s reaction to Jay-Z’s words from January had a lot in common, with people in both instances claiming each was a hypocritical public moralist in his own right.
Cosby delivered his “Pound Cake Speech” right around the time that allegations of him drugging and sexually abusing women surfaced. Jay-Z has rapped extensively about his single mother raising him and his own exploits as a pimp and drug kingpin years ago. Given both of those truths, people argued that neither of them had any moral ground to stand on.
Jay-Z, who said his social justice-inspired deal with the NFL would move “past kneeling,” seemed to validate critics last week when he announced the underwhelming first phase of his new role to include a concert series and T-shirts. People quickly ridiculed that approach as already falling well short of the progress that Kaepernick’s anthem protest had achieved in its three years.
Another similarity between Jay-Z’s deal and Cosby’s “Pound Cake” routine, versions of which he would go on to perform before numerous other audiences, was the fact that each was being used as a way to lucratively line both men’s’ pockets at the purported expense of the very Black people they have claimed to have the best interest of.