Sometimes we say or do things that we just can’t shake. They haunt us forever.
Jay-Z knows all about that.
Last August, the man who once boastfully rapped, “I said no to the Super Bowl, you need me, I don’t need you. Every night we in the end zone, tell the NFL we in stadiums too,” happily sat next to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to announce that he had entered into a partnership with the NFL, for an amount that has yet to be disclosed, “to enhance the NFL’s live game experiences and to amplify the league’s social justice efforts.”
He then said this:
“I think we have moved past kneeling. I think it is time to go into an actionable item … I’m not minimizing [Kaepernick’s] part of it. That has to happen. That is a necessary part of the process. But now that we all know what’s going on, what are we going to do? How are we going to stop it?”
Since that day, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd are no longer with us. They are just a few of the many reasons why Colin Kaepernick started kneeling. He wanted to start a conversation about racism, inequality, and police brutality.
Jay-Z felt that kneeling — an action that allowed the conversation to remain relevant — should cease.
This past weekend, the NBA made Jay-Z look like a fool. It’s hilariously ironic, given that the league that he used to belong to wound up being the one that exposed his stupidity.
“Honestly to think about it, I was on my knee for over four minutes,” Kyle Lowry told ESPN’s Malika Andrews on Saturday night after the Raptors and Lakers kneeled for both the American and Canadian national anthems before their game.
“To think that a police officer could do that for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Doc Rivers said it, about two minutes, and now we done it for eight [minutes] tonight, and I indented my towel. It’s a sad moment. I think we did a great job of understanding what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. We’re using our platform, and my shirt says a lot.”
Since the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz kicked off the NBA’s restart on Thursday, we’ve seen almost everybody take a knee. Players, coaches, referees, and league personnel have all gotten in on the act. And while some have stood during the anthem, which is their right, it’s impossible to ignore just how important, or trendy, kneeling has become.
“I respect our teams’ unified act of peaceful protest for social justice and under these unique circumstances will not enforce our long-standing rule requiring standing during the playing of our national anthem,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. Just three years ago, the league was sending out memos to teams reminding them that kneeling during the anthem was breaking a rule that came into play in 1981.
The tide is shifting, yet, we still haven’t heard anything from Jay-Z.
“I hope we made Kaep proud,” said Jay-Z’s close friend LeBron James after Thursday’s win against the Clippers. “I hope we continue to make Kaep proud every single day. I hope I make him proud on how I live my life, not only out on the basketball floor but off the floor.”
So far, we’ve seen players take a knee in Major League Baseball and even the NHL, of all leagues. Entire rosters were doing it in the WNBA years ago. And while we know that some of the people that are taking a knee are just going through the motions, as it can feel like “performative wokeness” at times, the magnitude of the moment cannot be ignored.
“I want to be held accountable for what I am doing. It keeps me sharp. Lets me know I can’t play around. I have to do what I say I am going to do,” said Jay-Z during that press conference last year.
Well, let the record show that during the final week of July and the first weekend of August, in the year 2020, that the NBA held Jay-Z accountable by showing that he was dull, not sharp. That he was playing around. And that he did not do what he said he was going to do.
You would think that the greatest rapper of all time would have a better understanding of the importance of word choice.