Jay-Z, like many others, stood behind Colin Kaepernick as he knelt in protest of police brutality. They backed the former 49ers quarterback when the NFL ousted him for his actions. But then, Jay-Z and Roc Nation did a deal with this same organization, which included a social justice initiative, and many began questioning which side he was on, and if he was going to use his position to amplify the muffled voices yelling for changes to be made. Jay-Z was hit with criticism from all angles. Most recently, the mogul, who some thought might have been made to be the fall guy for pretty much all things race-related for the NFL, said that he is willing to take the hits for the sake of making White folks care about police brutality, which disproportionately affects Black and Brown people.
“As long as real people are being hurt and marginalized and losing family members, then yes, I can take a couple rounds of negative press,” Jay-Z told The New York Times.
Jay-Z said the conversation needs to be pushed further than just Kaepernick, as there is a bigger conversation to be had. “No one is saying he hasn’t been done wrong. He was done wrong. I would understand if it was three months ago. But it was three years ago and someone needs to say, ‘What do we do now — because people are still dying?’” he said.
Jay-Z’s stance has not shifted. He has remained consistent in expressing that the movement should go beyond Kaepernick’s protest of kneeling. “I think it’s time for action,” he said after announcing his deal with the NFL.
Jay-Z continued, “I’m really into action — I’m into real work. I’m not into how it looks. I just show up and do the work, I’m not interested in how things look on the outside. If protesting on the field is the most effective way, then protest on the field. But, if you have a vehicle that you can inspire change and you can speak to the masses and educate at the same time.”
Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid, Kaepernick’s friend and former teammate, called Jay-Z’s deal “kind of despicable.” He also was not fond of the mogul’s comments about Kaep’s form of protest. “When has Jay-Z ever taken a knee, to come out and tell us we’re past kneeling? Yes, he’s done a lot of great work, a lot of great social justice work. But for you to get paid to go into an NFL press conference to say that we’re past kneeling — again, asinine. … He got paid to take the bullets that he’s taking now. Because we’re not having it,” he said.
After Jay-Z announced the deal, he was relatively silent. Until now, at least. But perhaps that is because he is about less talk and more action.