Do Your Own Thing Because Others Will Do Their Own Thing
For someone as opinionated as I am, I have struggled over the last couple of days to assess my opinion of rapper Jay-Z’s new partnership with the NFL.
The music mogul has made a name for himself over his career for speaking out against societal ills while providing a voice to the voiceless via his entertainment ventures and his philanthropic efforts.
Nevertheless, the rapper born Shawn Carter made many enemies this week in the African-American community because of the partnership he formed with the NFL and his entertainment company, Roc Nation.
Through Roc Nation, Jay-Z will produce and consult on several NFL entertainment projects including halftime of the Super Bowl, while also working on social justice issues with the NFL.
That’s sounds good on the surface.
However, Jay-Z became one of the biggest critics of the NFL for its exile of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick.
Jay-Z famously tried to dissuade Houston rapper Travis Scott from performing with band Maroon 5 at this year’s Super Bowl.
Several months later, Jay-Z and Roc Nation will start producing the Super Bowl halftime show.
Some have called Jay-Z a sellout, Uncle Tom and house Negro for getting into bed with the NFL.
I will call him neither.
Because he definitely does not fit any of those cruel monikers and calling any African-American one of those terms is divisive and counterproductive to advancing the African-American community.
Furthermore, I will also not criticize his move because he might be able to accomplish something positive for the African-American community.
Jay-Z and his wife Beyoncé have a track record of helping those from the African-American community who struggle to make it in this world.
But Jay-Z’s move does prove to me that no matter how woke someone is or how righteous their cause, at the end of the day, people are going to do what is best for them.
Therefore, other people have to do what is best for them too.
Earlier this year, many people labeled Scott a sellout for gracing the Super Bowl stage.
Some people looked at rapper Big Boi from Outkast skeptically for getting on the Super Bowl stage in his hometown of Atlanta.
However, some of those same people would do the same thing in a hypocritical way if it benefitted them and their career.
Jay-Z did it.
So why can’t Scott, Big Boi and “Joe Schmoe” do it too?
Some of the most militant people in Black History have done questionable things when they though it would benefit themselves or their bottom line.
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, the late leader of the Nation of Islam, preached racial separation and Black pride but he also wanted Malcolm X dead because Malcolm exposed his alleged adulterous affairs.
How can one support Black pride and then kill a Black person out of pride?
Muhammad claimed to be the Messenger of Allah, who lived a pure life, but allegedly had several illegitimate children.
What Malcolm X accused him of is nothing worse than what other religious leaders have been accused of for generations.
Therefore, why did leaders of the Nation of Islam want Malcolm dead?
The Nation of Islam wanted Malcolm dead because if followers began doubting Muhammad’s claims of divinity, that would stop the money coming into the Nation.
Muhammad lived in mansions in Chicago and Phoenix with pools and other extravagant amenities while many of his followers struggled to pay their rent.
What little money some members had, they had to spend it buying “Muhammad Speaks” newspapers or Nation of Islam membership dues.
The result of not paying or trying to leave the Nation was a severe beating or worse, just ask Malcolm’s family members.
Furthermore, Muhammad and Malcolm got into cahoots with the Ku Klux Klan when the Nation wanted to buy land down South for their separate Black nation.
The Messenger wanted assurance that his members would not face violence from the Klan if they migrated down South.
If the Nation of Islam would attempt to go in business with a White supremacist group, Jay-Z going into business with the NFL, despite Kaepernick’s banishment, should come as no surprise.
At the end of the day, people will do what is best for them.
Righteous talk ends where money begins for many people.
I personally know many woke people who encourage me to support Black-owned business, which I obviously do, but they never support my Black-owned business.
Those same people, however, will reach out to me if they think my Black-owned business could benefit them in some way.
It’s just the nature of the beast.
No big deal.
It’s called life.
People need to awaken to that reality.
Many are only as woke as their opportunities allow.
When opportunities strike, “wokeness” washes away.
Some of the only true leaders who ignored the opportunities to get wealthy in the name of their people are Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.
King donated his money from the Nobel Peace Prize back into the Civil Rights Movement.
And Malcolm X donated his royalties from his book “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” as told to Alex Haley back to the Nation of Islam.
Filmmaker Spike Lee adapted that autobiography into a feature length film starring Denzel Washington in 1992, which would have brought in more money for Malcolm X’s widow and daughters.
Many other so-called leaders have taken the money and who’s to blame them.
Without money, you cannot make the same difference in society as you can with money.
I am sure Jay-Z will continue making a difference in the African-American community.
But sometimes it takes money and some unholy alliances to truly make a difference.
If Jay-Z is a sellout, all Black Americans, and Americans of other races are sellouts too.
How many of you all will curse out your boss or walk off the job and starve to death because you disagree with your boss’s political leanings or religious beliefs?
Probably nobody reading this article would do that.
You are going to keep doing what’s best for you, and not what is best for the movement.
Half of the people who said they would boycott the NFL probably never did anyway.
After all, how would someone know what you watch in the privacy of your own home?
But some people have a public opinion or persona because it’s cool at the moment.
Behind closed doors they are different people.
Jay-Z does not necessarily seem to be that type of person despite how it looks on the outside looking in.
Although Jay-Z’s decision is questionable, his track record is not.
And if he actually sold the community out for money, he will not be the first person guilty of that.