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Jay-Z buys in — sells out

Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III | 8/30/2019, 6 a.m.
“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is ...
Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III

“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love” - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In the wake of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protest against police brutality and extrajudicial murder, Jay-Z’s Roc Nation has struck a deal to lead the NFL’s endeavors into music and entertainment. This deal has caused a lot of consternation within the African-American community. The issue now being raised centers around Jay-Z being a “sellout.”

What must be clearly under- stood is that Jay-Z is a capitalist. He did what capitalists do — he bought in.

Before he was Jay-Z, he was Shawn Carter. He grew up in the Marcy Projects in Brooklyn, N.Y., and was a drug dealer in his youth. By his own admission, his drug-dealing days prepared him for his current life as a sports entrepreneur and music mogul.

“I know about budgets. I was a drug dealer. To be in a drug deal you need to know what you can spend.”

To Shawn Carter, drugs were just a widget or commodity whose sale presented no moral dilemma or conflict. Selling drugs was a means to an end. It’s the urban Horatio Alger story, from “grams to Grammys,” as he said. Shawn Carter sold out his community for his personal gain by selling drugs to his own people.

Jay-Z, the capitalist, has once again increased his personal fortune by buying into an institution that has also shown little regard for the fate of black people.

When asked where we are in the protest process and the significance of kneeling, Jay-Z gave a very Trumpian response: “I think we’ve moved past kneeling and I think it’s time to go into actionable items ... No, I don’t want people to stop protesting at all. Kneeling — I know we’re stuck on it because it’s a real thing — but kneeling is a form of protest. I support protests across the board ... But now that we all know what’s going on, what are we going to do? How are we going to stop it? Because the kneeling was not about a job, it was about injustice.”

Translation? Jay-Z supported Mr. Kaepernick in the moment because it was the thing to do. Now that there is an opportunity to get paid and as a capitalist, I’m about that paper.

In addition to helping the NFL with entertainment, Jay-Z also will consult with the NFL on matters of social injustice.

This opportunity for Jay-Z to work with the NFL only became possible after Mr. Kaepernick sacrificed his NFL career to protest against the real injustice of state sanctioned murder by the police. If Jay-Z were really down for the cause, wouldn’t he have stepped to the mic and told NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that he will work with the NFL on the condition that “Kap” gets a fair shot at making an NFL roster? He could have used that moment and power to put real pressure on the league.