#TakeAKnee x Jay-Z
Let’s start with the reminder that #TrumpIsRacist. The same racist president who called Black athletes, “sons of bitches”, for defending Black lives and for true justice for all, has friends in the NFL. That same NFL, which has multiple owners writing checks and inviting their wealthy friends to write checks to support a racist president and his allies in Congress. Those folks and the fans, who claim the protests started by Colin Kaepernick & Eric Reid were “unpatriotic”, claim they are defending America and the Constitution; the same Constitution, which has a First Amendment, which declares, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
The disrespected Black mothers & families of players because some took a stand. Like with slavery, the slave owners were quick to make an example of those who sassed or stood up for themselves. Some things never change.
Kaepernick’s decision was a ripple that could become a wave, if not checked. He persisted all the way to court and won. Unfortunately, we still have numerous incidents of officer involved shootings that left 998 people dead in 2018 (229 Black), alone. If there’s evidence that Jay-Z’s deal has resolved these atrocities, then we need receipts. Black Lives Matter, Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid and others put racial injustice on center stage. We need the NFL deal with Jay-Z to not be mischaracterized as THE win.
It Ain’t Over
We see (if we’re paying attention) the family of Eric Garner having to wait five years to find some justice by seeing his officer/killer fired. Unfortunately, Mr. Garners’ daughter/activist, Erica Garner, didn’t live to see this partial victory. Clear audio/video footage captures an illegal act by the office. An audible cry for help from Eric Garner was ignored by multiple officers. Still, there was no conviction. And, there is nothing preventing “former” officer Pantaleo from working as an officer (or anything) elsewhere. He’s free as a bird. He can do as the officer who murdered Tamir Rice did. This victory isn’t complete. At. All.
I like that #EricReid and others are getting paid by the NFL AND still speaking out. Those who are biting their tongue to avoid losing that money must be conflicted, right? They have a few years to make the money (and risk permanent personal injuries, including CTE). Their life on the field is limited, but, the teams will continue to go on, whether they’re playing or not. Kaepernick fought and won against the NFL machine. He deserved the settlement because he was discriminated against for exercising his Constitutional rights — what American want that justice?
It’s just Business
Some folk argue that Jay-Z already admitted that it’s about the business, man, so we shouldn’t expect anything less of him. However, he, knows our criminal justice system is, more criminal, than just. He’s to be commended for getting the horrible story of Kalief Browder told. His Story of O.J. calls out racism. Yet, he appears to dismiss another Black man who used his platform to speak out, to sign on with folk who have been dismissive of the movement to defend Black lives. The same folk who will use the money they make from advertisers, local government subsidies & ticket sales, to endorse a racist who continues to disrespect people of color and others who have been intentionally marginalized.
Sports fans and team/player owners don’t want anything more than winning — and be entertained. When the “owned” get out of line, pearls get clutched & attitudes rise. Trumper, Laura Ingraham told NBA star LeBron James to, “Shut up and dribble”. He made it clear that he may dribble, but he won’t shut up. I like how #CardaleJones clapped back at a college football supporter, who wanted him to shut up and just play ball. I talk about it in a piece, Politics Have Always Been In Sports.
We need more GRIOTS!
Be clear, to #TakeAKnee was to make a stand. Messages have been in the music for as long as there’s been sound. From The Last Poets to Common & Kendrick Lamar. From Gil Scott Heron to Marvin Gaye & Solange, we need to keep amplifying messages to advance truth and justice. It’s commendable to see folks use their celebrity as a siren to define moments and defend causes. We should expect our fellow human beings to use their voice and platform to help make the world better — whatever our platform may be.
I want the Jay-Z deal to turn the NFL on its head. But, I also know that the owners know it’s business, too.
Ironically, many folk can’t even afford to attend an NFL game, so it’s not even for everybody — except for tv and cable packages (more money for the owners & the cable industry). But, the owners make money from those who can afford those expensive seats and season passes. Loyalty is lucrative — including those corporations who by luxury boxes & arena naming rights. Mo money Mo money mo money.
Yes, it’s 2020 and we can get seats at the table. But, that seat is made possible when the rest of us stand up with protests & boycotts, like what folks did in the ‘60’s. Protests make those seats possible. Protests make those seats more comfortable for those who get to sit in them. And, when Black folk get in those seats, they bet not forget how they got there.
Power takes notice when the people take a stand (or a knee). The head of the US Olympics is already warning American athletes that protesting during the Anthem is a no go. I get the spirit of Unity, but with so much disunity in the land, it’s false advertising. It’s what Nazi Germany tried to manage when Jesse Owens proved that whiteness didn’t mean superior. Like in 1936 — and 400 years before today — race still matters and some people are STILL anti-Black.
Colin Kaepernick & Eric Reid — and the many folk who joined them by boycotting games and foods and beverages and businesses — were a threat to the NFL owners’ & affiliates businesses bottom lines. They didn’t need Jay-Z. They needed somebody, preferably someone who appeals to their players and other Black people. Jay-Z was a good choice — a businessman with a ‘good history. He appeals to “the Blacks” and others. He’s married to the global sensation Beyonce (in spite of her Super Bowl “issue”), who appeals to EVERYBODY. A wealthy BLACK power couple; yes, it matters. If Jay-Bey didn’t exist, they would have had to create them. But, don’t get it twisted, OUR protests got him that Black seat; not his charm, mic skills or money. The couple is smart — they, know they world is watching. They are not Donny & Marie. They are not Chrisette Michele or Sammy Davis Jr.
Sidebar: It’s like how 45 tried to use A$AP Rocky’s detainment in a Swedish prison as a tool to act like he cares about Black people. He didn’t know that some Black folk were still salty about how A$AP wasn’t in the streets for justice — even dismissive of protests. It was a good time to tweet for “the Blacks” as he’s been prone to call us. His camp saw possible votes, not vindication.
Or, how he’s all buddy-buddy with the Kardashian-West’s. They can recommend he lets a Black person out of jail every now and then, so they can smile for the cameras. Be clear, he’s not our friend. So, the sports team owners, big business owners & wealthy investors, who are funding him are not our friends, either. Don’t be deceived.
Criminal injustices; particularly against Black & Brown people isn’t over. It’s a new day, yet old and new tactics of injustice still rule — like photoshopping images of suspects to get to an arrest.
The REAL Bottom line
Owners have always distracted with crumbs. They redirected dollars for other causes to appear as if they cared about social & racial justice. The NFL Players Coalition — although divided — is another attempt to appease the players demands that the NFL does something tangible — if leveraged with sustained & informed strategies. Again, the long game. If Jay can be at the table & remember there’s still a battle is the end game, that’s what success looks like — the long game. If he hires Kaepernick, yay for Kaepernick. We need constant wins for Black lives and to ensure societal justice for all. Racism, anti-Black racism & bigotry are chronic illnesses, so we need to keep monitoring these diseases so they won’t spread. When you give a disease room to grow, it emboldens others sicknesses. The illness isn’t cured with a check. Words. Prayer. Action. Protest. Victory. (repeat)
Whether you care about football or not, we need to get folks registered to vote, to counter the money and propaganda that is funding a racist president & other politicians and people in power. We need to boycott businesses, networks & people who are not our friends & allies. Bottom lines matter.
Sidebar, since you’ve read this far: Spread the word about the census. Be sure we are counted next year, where $904bil is at stake for communities. There are long-term implications (or consequences). Race is at the center of all of it. And Blacks, Jews, Latinx, Immigrants, LGBTQ are under threat.
Build Coalitions Now
#IStandWithKap because he hasn’t forgotten that there is MUCH work to do. We will see if this NFL/JAy-Z deal is a benefit to the needy and not just the greedy. If we don’t respect ourselves, by standing up for what’s right and knocking down what’s wrong, then nobody will. And there are too many of us under threat to not take collective action against the common threat we share — white supremacy/nationalism.
If Kaepernick hadn’t taken a knee, it wouldn’t have helped Jay-Z (that’s a bar right there).