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Controversial conservative commentator Tomi Lahren took both the NFL and rapper Jay-Z to task on Tuesday, choosing to vent on Twitter over a recently announced partnership between Roc Nation and the league.
“Jay-Z will be consulting with the NFL for the Super Bowl halftime show and other performances because apparently the league doesn’t hate America and law enforcement officers at a level satisfactory enough for the former drug dealer,” Lahren wrote.
Jay-Z will be consulting with the NFL for the Super Bowl halftime show and other performances because apparently the league doesn’t hate America and law enforcement officers at a level satisfactory enough for the former drug dealer.— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) August 13, 2019
The artist, born Shawn Carter, has talked extensively about his education and the pitfalls of his former illicit drug dealings in his music.
Roc Nation, the all-inclusive business arm founded by the rapper/businessman, signed into a multiyear partnership with the league this week to “to enhance the NFL’s live game experiences and to amplify the league’s social justice efforts.”
In a statement by the NFL, it said that “Roc Nation will advise on the selection of artists for major NFL performances like the Super Bowl. A significant component of the partnership will be to nurture and strengthen community through football and music, including through the NFL’s Inspire Change initiative.”
The rapper called the business deal “an opportunity to strengthen the fabric of communities across America” via press release.
Though the league has expressed desires to contribute to social justice, its stance hasn’t necessarily included agency for players in its employ. (In fact, the league has historically stood with law enforcement and overt acts of patriotism—countering the basis of Lahren’s argument.) For example, outspoken free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick continues to be unemployed, though the prevailing thought is that he has more than enough talent to make an NFL roster as a back-up. The league settled a collusion suit with Kaepernick and current Carolina Panthers defensive back Eric Reid earlier this year.
Reid is calling the partnership “disingenuous,” saying the league agreed to work with Roc Nation to “act like they care about people of color.” The former Pro Bowl player says neither he nor Kaepernick are connected to the partnership and that Jay-Z has yet to reach out to either party.
He is not https://t.co/jIRVCatNLt— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) August 14, 2019
Moreover, Reid believes there’s a connection with the timing of the partnership’s announcement in relation to Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross’ recent fundraiser for President Donald Trump.
If you don’t connect the dots, you’ll never see the whole picture... https://t.co/lV1OEkPldM— Full Dissident (@hbryant42) August 14, 2019
Reid had much more to say, suggesting the NFL is talking out of both sides of its mouth:
You & some others seem to misunderstand that we had no beef with the NFL until they started perpetuating the systemic oppression that we are fighting by blackballing Colin and then me. Nah I won’t quit playing but I will be a royal pain in the NFL’s a** for acting like they care https://t.co/bL6SMUkrQP— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) August 14, 2019
about people of color by forming numerous disingenuous partnerships to address social injustice while collectively blackballing Colin, the person who brought oppression and social injustice to the forefront of the NFL platform.— Eric Reid (@E_Reid35) August 14, 2019
Many see the partnership as “woke capitalism,” with accusations of the rapper selling out on the back of Kaepernick’s social justice efforts.
Jay Z is what I would call a woke capitalist.— Shaun King (@shaunking) August 14, 2019
Woke describes his capitalism, but let's be clear, he's a capitalist, and if a good deal comes along, even if it means working with the NFL at the expense of Colin Kaepernick, he'll make the deal.
That's what he just did.
So the NFL is forming an entertainment and "social justice" partnership with Jay-Z and his Roc Nation agency.— Ernest Owens (@MrErnestOwens) August 13, 2019
Jay Z hasn't spoken with Colin Kaepernick about this and yet says he was an "inspiration."
If this isn't Black capitalism exploiting the movement I don't know what is.
Some, including Jalen Rose, see the partnership as a potentially fruitful union:
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Kahron Spearman is a music and film critic whose work can also regularly be regularly found in the Austin Chronicle.