Jay- Z vs. The People

Jay Z and Rodger Goodell meeting to discuss Roc Nation's role with the NFL to handle different social initiatives. 

Editor's note: The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

Unlike the Preamble to the United States Constitution’s where its main purpose is to provide ‘for the people and by the people’ that may not apply to the artist, committed advocate and philanthropist Jay-Z.

The National Football League (NFL), in the midst of many controversies, sparked an agreement with the world's first hip-hop artist to become a billionaire. In particular, the partnership will be done on behalf of Jay-Z’s record label Roc Nation, in efforts to not only bring entertainment but for social justice as well.

Under the premise of social justice, the label will play as the middleman between the League and the Players Coalition to improve “education and economic advancement; police and community relations; and criminal justice reform” under their newly launched campaign, “Inspire Change.”

Now in an alternate universe, this partnership may seem unproblematic and feasible, however, realistically that is nothing of the sort. The league has been the topic of discussion since unequivocally having severed ties with well-known former San Francisco 49ers player, Colin Kaepernick in 2017.

Kaepernick was scrutinized for infamously kneeling during the national anthem to maintain his stance about police brutality resulting in the deaths of unarmed African American individuals. Shortly after receiving a mixture of death threats and solidarity from the American public, as well as a lack of support from the league, Kaepernick opted out of his contract, as he was greeted with a campaign from Nike and nonetheless support from all realms including Jay-Z a year later.

Not only have racial tensions risen since 2017, but so has solidarity. Causing a domino effect, players within the league such as Eric Reid and Eli Harold of the San Francisco 49ers kneeled before a game.

However, in May of 2018, players who were in support of Kaepernick’s actions were unfortunately met with retaliation from the league's new policy. Now although the policy is currently not in effect, according to Newsweek.com, “the policy imposes fines on players who protest during the national anthem.” And as every action has a reaction, the league was met with a movement to boycott their organization, in which Jay-Z was inadvertently a part of.

In 2018 Jay-Z and 23-time Grammy Award winner, Beyoncé released a studio album, Everything Is Love featuring a particular lyric on the song, “Apeshit,” “Once I said no to the Super Bowl: You need me, I don’t need you. Every night we in the end zone. Tell the NFL we in stadiums too.”

Ironically, this is the same Jay-Z who happens to currently be in business with this controversial league.

As there’s an unspoken, yet, mutual understanding, that the league doesn’t have the best track record with people—black people in particular, as they approximately make up the majority of the players. According to The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport (TIDES) “70 percent of NFL players are black.”

As the league adamantly tries to repair their image with the crutch of the renowned activist, their credibility and intentions are coming into question, however, under the disguise of social justice and live entertainment will they have your attention this season?

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