(AllHipHop News) The 2020 professional football season is underway. As the players return to the field, there are still some people that take issue with the fact that Jay-Z’s Roc Nation partnered with the NFL in 2019 despite former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick not being signed by a team.
“Why would I sell out? I’m already rich, don’t make no sense. Got more money than Goodell, a whole NFL bench. Did it one-handed like Odell, handcuffed to a jail. I would’ve stayed on the sideline if they could’ve tackled that sh*t themselves,” rapped Jay-Z on Jay Electronica’s “Flux Capacitor” song.
Alicia Keys, who is managed by Roc Nation, connected her personal brand to the NFL as well. The Grammy-winning singer teamed with the league to create a $1 billion endowment fund for Black businesses and communities. She also performed the Black national anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing” before the Kansas City Chiefs versus Houston Texans game.
In addition, the NFL incorporated references to African-Americans that have been killed by law enforcement into its broadcast. The tributes to Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmed Arbery, Alton Sterling, Amadou Diallo, Michael Brown, Philando Castille, and others were part of the Inspire Change initiative.
“The Inspire Change program has been around for four years, and they’ve done a lot of work in Black communities and with criminal justice reform and social justice and different organizations that they’ve worked with, but I don’t know if they’ve been able to rise to the level of how we did it last night,” said Roc Nation CEO Desiree Perez .”And I think that takes collaboration and cooperation from everyone to say, ‘This is how we’re going to move this forward.’”
Last year, Jay-Z was met with negative reactions when he stated, “I think we’ve moved past kneeling. I think it’s time for action.” Some critics took that message as a slight towards Kaepernick who was essentially barred from the chance to be an NFL quarterback after sparking the “Take A Knee” protests against racial injustice during the playing of the American national anthem.
In her interview with Billboard, Perez admitted the NFL can still do more in its efforts to dismantle systemic racism. She somewhat echoed Jay-Z’s comments from 2019 by mentioning the need for more action to ensure social justice for all United States citizens.
“I think in this war on racism, the first step is declaring your values,” said Perez. “And then the next step is taking action. And it has to be tangible. It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be an uncomfortable space. But once you’re in that space and you start to make change, it’s so gratifying. And I think we, Roc Nation, want to be part of that. That’s our biggest motivation in all of this.”