So, this week, the internet (aka Black Twitter) became big mad about rapper and businessman, Jay-Z, expressing his thoughts on police brutality. There is a video where Jay-Z was on a panel of speakers and he said (paraphrase) that when you’re raised in a home with a single mother, you learn to disrespect authority because it’s as if you are the man of the house. Because of this, when you find yourself in an encounter with the police, you let that disrespect flow and people end up getting hurt.
Now, anybody who has been on the internet for at least 3 days anytime between 2013 and today knows that one of the things you DO NOT do is even insinuate that people who are brutalized by the police had a part in their own brutalization. I mean, unless you’re one of those people who simply do not give a damn what selfies with fonts think about you (me and Jay-Z apparently), there are certain things that you just don’t allow to pass your lips.
This comes right after Jay-Z, less than two weeks ago, signed a deal with the NFL and seemed to suggest that Colin Kaepernick’s protest was obsolete and it’s time to move on. So, Jay-Z was already in the corner with Black folks and this panel comment was basically the moment where someone tells you to go outside and pick your own switch from a tree before they whip your behind.
First of all, I’m not a rap fan. I know who Jay-Z is because…well, obviously. But, I don’t have the emotional attachment that a lot of people (seem) to have to him or any of his personas. I had no preconceived notions about where he stands on political issues. Yes, I’d read that he grew up poor and sold drugs to get by and yes, I know that he’s filthy rich. Neither of those pieces of information abused me of how I thought he should feel about anything. I make that point because among “us,” though we holler about not being a monolith, there is an underlying belief that since we share a phenotype, we simply MUST share similar (if not identical) life philosophies. That’s where I think the outrage is coming from, to be quite honest.
If Jay-Z were a person of another race saying the same thing (and there have been plenty), Black folks would be upset but at the end of the day, they’d chalk it up to regular degular racism. But when someone from “our” group veers from what we think they ought to think or do, it becomes a way bigger issue (ask Omarosa).
With that said, I’m not surprised. Maybe the old Jay-Z who had to slang rock to survive (I guess) would have thought there is nearly no circumstance under which police should use deadly force. But, alas, people evolve and there’s no better evolution agent than an 8 or 9-figure income. This new…or richer…Jay-Z may feel differently.
If it’s any consolation, there are some considerations that may lower the community-imposed sentence against him. For one, he may have said what he felt would be most acceptable in that setting when his real opinion involves much more nuance. Black people are known to self-censor in the presence of white people. We could also consider the fact that for all his be-bop and hip-hop, he’s still a man who is nearly 50 years old. The average age of the outrage machine is what? 27?
Perhaps, he’s about to drop a new album of phat beats and was looking for free publicity.
I’m not defending him but the truth is that a 50-year-old man and a member of the #triggered generation are going to bump heads on a lot of topics. Maybe Black Twitter’s Come-To-Jesus meeting is what he needed to re-evaluate his position.
I will say that his comments were interesting to me considering the time he spent on his friend Meek Mills’ case but often, our opinions on a topic are colored by the players in the scenario.
This week, I’ll be waiting for the myriad “think pieces” about this and some kind of statement from the man of the hour (you just knooooow it’s coming) “clarifying” his stance. Until then, I’ll continue laughing at the reactions of the fans who apparently never knew him.