Are we in the pursuit of money or are we in the pursuit of justice? That is the question that is currently dividing Team Kaepernick and Team Jay-Z as we move forward into another NFL season. After Jay-Z forged a partnership with Roger Goodell and the NFL on August 14th many people viewed it as a betrayal of his former protégé Colin Kaepernick—I am one of those people.
To be clear, I am not Team Kaepernick. Meaning I do not follow Kap blindly. I am critical of his desire to reenter the NFL. I am critical of him starting a movement that seems to have no real goals. As a matter of fact, he seemed to disappear shortly after his kneeling gained serious traction amongst both liberals and people in the center of the political spectrum that appreciated Colin exposing the myriad hypocrisies that are embedded in the fabric of this nation. One thing I would never call into question is that Colin took a knee by himself. He had no support when he did it. He lost millions of dollars in salary and endorsements for doing it (though he made a portion of it back through his deal with Nike and his settlement against the NFL). And he was ultimately banned from football because of it. That is admirable. Any time a man puts a cause over making money in a system that routinely places capital over human life then they are special. That makes Colin immortal and it says that the cause itself transcends any amount of money. This is why I was aghast when I found out that Jay Z made a deal to provide entertainment for halftime at NFL games this season and maybe be part owner of a team. Most of the details are still not public but what we do know is that there is some form of a social justice component. Money will be raised to give to nonprofits and educate people about racial profiling and police brutality. Some very prominent members of the black community including popular DJ Charlemagne the God have rallied in support of Jay-Z suggesting that he is trying to help black people and that he is taking the campaign to the next level. But Jay Z never sought Colin’s approval. How can one befriend a social gadfly like Colin Kaepernick, wear his jersey on Saturday Night live, tell other up and coming artists not to perform at the Super Bowl and then monetize a movement for your own personal gain when it was never about money?
One can’t put a dollar amount on consciousness. One can’t throw money at a centuries old problem like racism and expect it to go away, however, it is a good business practice used to manipulate the public into believing that you actually care. Jay-Z not only knows this, he’s complicit in it. People will say that this deal will generate jobs and thus it will create opportunities for the disenfranchised. To that I would ask black people, Would you rather have a job or a revolution? Why can’t we create our own league and hire who we want? We have enough billionaires to do it. Why do we, as black people, want to actively participate in a system that was designed to keep the vast majority of us at the bottom? We are so brainwashed that I am convinced that a good deal of us would be willing to bring slavery back as long as 15% of the plantations were owned by African-Americans. But not Colin. Colin wouldn’t sell his soul for a check. Jay-Z did. And that’s the difference. I don’t rock with Roc Nation. Neither am I on the Kaepernick bandwagon. I rock with the truth. To paraphrase what the comedian Monique said earlier this year, I place my integrity over the bag. I place my morals over money and I celebrate moments in history when others do the same. Let the movement continue. Let the kneeling continue and may every billionaire owner of an NFL team be made to feel uncomfortable every time the national anthem is performed.