President Donald Trump sent out a combative tweet on Sunday morning directed at Jay-Z, urging “somebody” to “please inform” him that “Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!”
Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 28, 2018
The tweet was an apparent response to an interview the 48-year-old star rapper, whose real name is Shawn Carter, did with Van Jones the night before on an episode of his CNN program The Van Jones Show. In the interview, Jay-Z had some critical words about the president’s inflammatory rhetoric and racial attitudes, telling the host that a strong economy was no excuse for things like Trump’s reported used of the term “shithole” to refer to African nations.
“It is disappointing, and it’s hurtful, it really is hurtful more so,” Jay-Z said. “Everyone feels anger, but after the anger, it really is hurtful. Because it’s like, looking down on a whole population of people, and these places have beautiful people, have beautiful everything. And it’s just, this is the leader of the free world speaking like this.”
Jay-Z criticizes President Trump's vulgar comment about African nations: "It's really hurtful because he's looking down on a whole population of people and he's so misinformed because these places have beautiful people" https://t.co/CcD4iuVHAP pic.twitter.com/hFwaFRQZOM— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) January 27, 2018
He continued, referencing the 2014 scandal that saw former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling forced to sell his team after he was recorded making racist comments to his girlfriend, insisting that she not bring black people to the games.
“This has been going on. This is how people talk, this is how they talk behind closed doors,” Jay-Z said. “There was a moment where Donald Sterling had been exposed as this racist on a private phone conversation that he was having, and they took his team from him. Ok, that’s one way to do it. But another way would’ve been, let him have his team, and let’s talk about it together. Maybe some penalties, but―’cause once you do that, all the other closet racists just run back in the hole. You haven’t fixed anything. What you’ve done is spray perfume on a trash can.”
Jay-Z then referred to Trump as a “superbug,” and suggested that something in Trump’s personal history is motivating his behavior.
“Somewhere along his lineage, something happened to him,” Jay-Z said. “Something happened to him, and he’s in pain, and he’s expressing it this way.”
While it’s true that Black unemployment is currently at a record low, it is not clear that Trump’s policies themselves are directly responsible. The current Black unemployment rate―which remains far higher than the white unemployment rate, at 6.8 percent to 3.7 percent, respectively―slowly declined throughout the eight years of the Obama administration after spiking amid the 2007 global financial crisis.
Trump’s tweet seemed to ignore that Jay-Z himself already addressed the U.S.’s economic performance in the interview. Asked whether the economy makes it OK for Trump to say such incendiary things, Jay-Z responded “no” because “money doesn’t equate to happiness.”
On the topic of race, some observers noted that Trump immediately pounced on Jay-Z’s remarks but has never publicly commented when Eminem, a white rapper, has verbally attacked him.