Which priority comes first: social justice, friendship, or income? It looks like JAY-Z isn’t too sure these days. This week, NFL and Roc Nation signed a deal that makes JAY-Z the league’s “live music entertainment strategist.” Now, the hip-hop mogul is defending the business deal after questions about his ties to Colin Kaepernick, and if the deal glosses over the racial equality work Kaepernick did.
During a press conference on Wednesday, JAY-Z was repeatedly asked to explain his partnering with the NFL given his vocal support for Kaepernick in the past, including wearing his jersey while performing on Saturday Night Live in 2017 — the same year the former 49er quarterback filed a collusion grievance against the league.
“We forget that Colin’s whole thing was to bring attention to social injustice. In that case, this is a success. This is the next phase. There [are] two parts of protesting. You go outside and you protest, and then the company or the individual says, ‘I hear you. What do we do next?'” argued JAY-Z. “For me it’s like action, [an] actionable item, what are we gonna do with it? Everyone heard, we hear what you’re saying, and everybody knows I agree with what you’re saying [in Kaepernick’s underlying message]. So what are we gonna do? You know what I’m saying? [Help] millions and millions of people, or we get stuck on Colin not having a job.”
According to Kaepernick’s partner, Nessa Diab, the former quarterback was not contacted by JAY-Z before or during the formation of this deal. During the press conference, reporters asked JAY-Z if he planned to involve Kaepernick moving forward. His response was shady at best.
“I’m not his boss. I can’t just bring him into something. That’s for him to say,” JAY-Z added. “We all do different things. We all work differently for the same results. I don’t knock what he’s doing, and hopefully he doesn’t knock what I’m doing.”
(Read: Jay-Z’s Top 20 Songs)
What does Kaepernick think of all of this? Well, he has yet to comment publicly about it. His partner Nessa, however, expressed her views of the situation while hosting a radio shift on Hot 97, as noted by Complex. “The disappointment in JAY-Z isn’t in the partnership. The disappointment is wrapping it in social justice,” she said. “[Kaepernick] didn’t just take a knee, he put the work behind it. And he lost his career for it.”
“Don’t you dare call it a social justice reform attempt when it comes to working with that company,” she continued. “I’m not gonna go out of my way to discredit him and his work, but I will hold anyone accountable and I don’t care if it’s your favorite idol.”
Meanwhile, Kaepernick spent Wednesday marking the third anniversary of the first time he kneeled to protest systemic oppression. He took to Twitter to share a video commemorating the people lost to police brutality, the families struggling with their loss, and the reason why he decided to do something about it all. “I continue to work and stand with the people in our fight for liberation, despite those who are trying to erase the movement!” he writes. “The movement has always lived with the people! ✊🏾” Find the clip below.
Today marks the three year anniversary of the first time I protested systemic oppression. I continue to work and stand with the people in our fight for liberation, despite those who are trying to erase the movement! The movement has always lived with the people! ✊🏾
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) August 14, 2019