A Record Of Jay Z’s Troublesome Comments On Social Justice

Chess not checkers

That’s what many said that Jay Z was playing when it was announced last August that he was entering a partnership with the NFL that would “enhance the NFL’s live game experiences and to amplify the league’s social justice efforts.”

The reaction to the news caused quite a stir. Some thought he was going to change things for the better. While people like me believed that everything about this deal was problematic.

Almost six months to the day, there is hardly anything to show from the partnership beside a concert, a few donations, some t-shirts, financial gain on Jay Z’s part, and a move that has given the NFL a scapegoat to blame whenever controversy occurs.

Below you will find a list of comments that Jay Z has made about Colin Kaepernick, his deal with the NFL, the criticism he’s received, and his thoughts on social media. They will begin with his most recent and go back to that fateful day in August when he and Roger Goodell held a press conference at the offices of Roc Nation in New York City.

In response to why he and Beyonce´ sat during the national anthem at the Super Bowl:

(Said to a classroom of students at Columbia University)

“It actually wasn’t. Sorry.”

“It really wasn’t. … It was not premeditated at all.”

“So we get there, and we immediately jump into artist mode. So I’m looking at the show. ‘Did our mic start? Was it too low to start?’ … ‘Is it too many speakers on the floor?’ … So the whole time we’re sitting there and we’re talking about the performance. And then right after that, Demi comes out, and we’re talking about how beautiful she looked and how she sound[ed], and what she’s going through in her life for her to be on the stage and we’re so proud of her.”

“We wouldn’t do that to Blue (Jay Z’s daughter) and put her in that position. If anyone knows Blue … if we told her we were gonna do something like that, you would have seen her tapping me a hundred times. She’s the kid that gets in the car and closes the door and says, ‘We there yet, Daddy?’ So she would say, ‘What time? Are we doing it?”

“We were making the biggest, loudest protest of all. Given the context, I didn’t have to make a silent protest.”

On criticism he’s taken, Colin Kaepernick, and his definition of social justice

(From his recent interview with The New York Times)

“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.”

“No one is saying he (Kaepernick) 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?’”

“We didn’t say, ‘Let’s go make some money off the N.F.L.”

*Roc Nation hasn’t released how much money they will make from the deal.

“Meek’s (Mill) got eight guys who could pull him back. I said, ‘Meek, you are going to go back with them, or you need to bring them with you.’ So he reaches a hand back and pulls them with him. That’s social justice: It’s how we help a person help their community and help themselves.”

From the press conference with Roger Goodell and the NFL

(Said to media outlets that were in the room)

“Colin’s (Kaepernick) whole thing was to bring attention to social injustice. This the next thing. For me, this is action. We help millions of millions of people or we get stuck on Colin not having a job.”

“I think we have moved past kneeling. I think it is time to go into actionable item … I’m not minimizing [Kaepernick’s] part of it. That has to happen. That is a necessary part of the process. But now that we all know what’s going on, what are we going to do? How are we going to stop it?”

“I’m really into action — I’m into real work. I’m not into how it looks. How it looks only lasts for a couple months until we start doing the work. I’ve been in this position many times. Take Tidal as a great example from five years ago. Now, people look at it today, people have a different outlook on it. But at the time, people didn’t see what was going on. So I’ve been in this position many times. 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.”

“I want to be held accountable for what I am doing. It keeps me sharp. Let’s me know I can’t play around. I have to do what I say I am going to do.”

Jay Z once said, “Men lie. Women lie. Numbers don’t.”

And since he wants to be held accountable because it “keeps him sharp,” keeping a record of the things he’s said and done is the best way to do that. And so far, all we have is a lot of talk and optimism and very little action.

Billionaires don’t acquire their wealth by becoming comfortable with what they have. They aren’t wired that way. And if Jay Z would have come out at the beginning of this and explained to us that this deal with the NFL was about business, many of his critics, like myself, wouldn’t have taken such an issue with it.

However, the deal has been masqueraded as a social justice initiative that would “inspire change,” when it hasn’t.

It’s as if Jay Z went from selling drugs to selling dreams.

Back to top