Hip-hop mogul Jay-Z and his Roc Nation record label are set to hold a Social Justice Summit to address concerns about systemic racism ahead of the upcoming midterm elections but Black America seems unimpressed, suggesting it’s time to go beyond Roc Nation brunches.
Many on Twitter suggest that the true motive of the summit could be to push the Black vote toward the Democratic Party while overlooking issues such as reparations.
Team Roc, which leads the label’s philanthropic initiatives, assembled The United Justice Coalition, which will gather for the summit in New York City on July 23.
Jay-Z and Roc Nation have received backlash for entering a long-term so-called social justice initiative partnership with the NFL in 2019. Some in Black America were critical of the deal because of the lack of Black people in the NFL’s executive ranks and the NFL’s blackballing of former quarterback Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the National Anthem to protest against police brutality.
During a 2019 press conference, Jay-Z defended his deal with the NFL, saying the Black community needed to move beyond kneeling.
“This is the next phase,” Jay-Z said. “There (are) two parts of protesting. You go outside and you protest, and then the company or the individual says, ‘I hear you. What do we do next?’”
“I think we’re past kneeling,” Jay-Z said. “I think it’s time for action.”
Among those invited to speak at the planned Social Justice Summit are celebrities, activists, academics, and family members of those who lost their lives to gun violence. Headliners include “The Breakfast Club” radio show host Charlamagne Tha God, civil rights attorney Ben Crump, CNN political contributor Van Jones, community activist Tamika Mallory, and professor and author Michael Eric Dyson.
The summit will also feature family members of individuals who were shot and killed by police officers, including Michelle Kenney, the mother of Antwon Rose II; Allisa Findley, the sister of Botham Jean; Tiffany Crutcher, the sister of Terence Crutcher; and Danroy Henry Sr. and Angella Henry, the parents of DJ Henry.
“It is an opportunity for people to really learn about issues that impact their communities — issues that are going to inevitably come up in midterm elections — and hopefully, it’ll drive action,” said Dania Diaz, Roc Nation’s managing director of philanthropy, according to ABC News. “At the very least, to get more people connected to what’s happening locally in their communities, but also, you know, getting them to register to vote, first and foremost. And to recognize that there are networks of folks and organizations that they can lean into for support and for greater resources.”
Diaz added that Roc Nation’s mission to fight systemic injustices is “synonymous” with the mission of hip-hop.
While the summit will address social issues and the Black vote, some on Twitter noted a glaring omission — reparations.
The reactions on Black Twitter were swift, especially concerning the lineup, which does not include economist and wealth-inequality expert Dr. William “Sandy” Darity.
“I think we’ve moved passed Roc Nation brunches, it’s time for reparations” tweeted $KYDAV I$
“Not a word about closing the racial wealth gap or reparations for the descendants of chattel slavery,” IAmJLR @jezusgurl55 tweeted.
“Those are sellout so called Black people who don’t represent best interest of Black American Freedmen who descended from chattel slavery. They are interested in prospering from their proximity to whiteness. A performative coalition. Otherwise @SandyDarity would’ve been invited,” Noirdos @noirdosser tweeted.
“THE NAMES ON THIS LIST TELL ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” joe jackson (extra crispy) @tilghm1 tweeted.
“FIXED THE HEADLINE: The summit will feature Michelle Kenney, the mother of Antwon Rose II, Allisa Findley, the sister of Botham Jean, Tiffany Crutcher – the sister of Terence Crutcher, and Danroy Henry Sr. and Angella Henry, the parents of DJ Henry,” Drew McCaskill First of His Name @DrewMcCaskill tweeted.
YouTube channel “Your Black World News” also voiced concerns about the featured speakers. In a segment titled “Why Jay-Z social justice summit won’t do ANYTHING for Black people,” Your Black World News host Jeff Lightsy said, “No diversity on there,” and added, “You’re not going to get a differentiation of opinion.”
According to Lightsy, the social justice summit is merely a play for Black votes. “The Democrats know they are in trouble, so they are going to their big dogs, Jay-Z and Charlamagne Tha God to get out Black people to vote…but Black people have been voting for a long time. The problem is we are voting for nothing,” said Lightsy.
“The democrats are activating their shills and bootlicks. On this farce of a show it’ll be We need to vote, we need abortion rights, reparations bad, and to just wait the democrats will do something,” P.Tylerrrr0711 DO-CHATTEL-AS @tylerrrr0711 tweeted.
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But Roc Nation claims there has been progress under the NFL social justice initiative. In September 2021, Team Roc filed a lawsuit in the district court of Wyandotte County, Kansas, against the Kansas City Police Department, accusing it of covering up alleged police misconduct, ABC News reported.
In February 2020, Team Roc financially backed a lawsuit in federal court against the Mississippi prison system on behalf of 152 inmates, accusing Parchman prison of subjecting inmates to alleged “barbaric” conditions.
“Jay Z …Basically stopped the NFL protest. Coordinated Dre’s cover up performance 2 put a nail in its coffin. Now trying get blk ppl to KEEP blindly voting 4 Democrats instead of standing up 2 Dems” tweeted All on one Accord 🇺🇸 @BlacksOrganize.
Photo: Jay-Z, left, and Meek Mill make an announcement of the launch of Dream Chasers record label in joint venture with Roc Nation, at the Roc Nation headquarters on July 23, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)