Beyoncé and husband Jay-Z have become two of the biggest supporters of Colin Kaepernick, the free agent quarterback who started a firestorm when he knelt during the National Anthem in protest of police brutality against black people in America. At the same time, Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, came under fire when his Roc Nation company announced a massive partnership with the NFL as Kaepernick still bore the brunt of public discourse. Might this new move by music’s reigning power couple, however, be a sign of their continued support?
As Demi Lovato took the Hard Rock Stadium field in Miami during Super Bowl 2020 on Sunday to perform the National Anthem, the Carters, including daughter Blue Ivy Carter, remained seated as the majority of the stadium stood. Video of the seated Carters, captured by TMZ, began making the rounds online.
Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, first knelt during the National Anthem during a 2016 NFL game. A common claim from his detractors was that he protested the American flag, something Kaepernick has never said. He knelt as a means of social justice protest as more and more reports of unarmed black people being killed by police were dominating (and continue to dominate) the airwaves. But with so much attention, including attention from President Donald Trump, Kaepernick left the 49ers at the end of the season and he still hasn’t been hired by any NFL team since.
That’s what prompted so much backlash when Roc Nation announced its deal with the NFL for events and social activism. While multiple celebrities, such as Rihanna and Cardi B, publicly stated they declined offers to perform at the Super Bowl in support of Kaepernick, Jay-Z, who co-produced this year’s halftime show, featuring Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, told The New York Times in a pre-Super Bowl interview that he could handle the backlash if it meant making a change from within the NFL. “As long as real people are being hurt and marginalized and losing family members, then yes, I can take a couple rounds of negative press,” he said.
“No one is saying [Kaepernick] hasn’t been done wrong,” the rapper continued. “He was done wrong. I would understand if it was three months ago. But it was three years ago and someone needs to say, ‘What do we do now — because people are still dying?’”
During this year’s Super Bowl, the NFL sponsored the broadcast of a public service video, the first in a series of PSAs about black men and boys killed by police. In it, retired NFL wide receiver Anquan Boldin discusses the death of his cousin, Corey Jones, in 2015 by a plain-clothed police officer.
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“The NFL has a great big platform, and it has to be all-inclusive,” Jay-Z previously said. “They were willing to do some things, to make some changes, that we can do some good.”
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