Friday, August 23, 2019

(Don't) "Do The Hustle"

I have not come to bury professor and author Michael Eric Dyson, who really is not the issue.

When in June 2017 comedian Bill Maher used the "n" word- in the same context as did Malcolm X- Dyson defended him, boldly and properly. When earlier this month, he appeared on MSNBC's The Beat and defined "racism" as "the belief in "the inherent superiority of one group on the other or other," Ari Melber should have stopped the show, stood up, and given Dyson an ovation.

But transparency was in order when after Jay-Z received a little criticism for entering into an agreement with the NFL, Dyson appeared with Brianna Keilar on CNN (good sound on video here) and stated

Jay-Z's portfolio, Jay-Z's profile has been there. He's the one who said "God forgive me for my brash delivery but I remember vividly what these three did to me. Imagine me allowing you to nitpick at me and portray me like a pic-a-ninny. That's not me."

So Jay Z has entered the game and he has social justice agendas that are relevant and we can agree or disagree. But we shouldn't name-call...

You can still have Colin Kaepernick protest- you can still have players on the teams who are saying "we are tired of injustice and you can have Jay Z doing what he does. In football, everybody can't be the quarterback, somebody's gotta be the running back, somebody's gotta play offense and defense.

(If Dyson sounds like a preacher, it's probably because he's an ordained Baptist minister.)

In a team game, however, there should be no doubt as to which team the quarterback is playing for. Nor should there by any doubt as to the objectivity of the guy or gal calling the game. Yet there was no mention that due out this fall is "Jay-Z: Made in America," written by Dyson, a book which the publisher maintains will present "an in-depth analysis of some of this remarkable artist's most beloved lyrics." (It may not be completely objective.)

Despite the evident foolishness of deeply analyzing the lyrics of Shawn Carter, it may be a good book, but one of which viewers should have been informed by someone.

That would have given the audience at least an inkling that Jay Z/Shawn Carter is not completely focused on truth, justice, and the American way. Or maybe, sadly, it is the American way that he is most determined to replicate.  Sports journalist Dave Zirin explained

None of this is about social justice. It’s not about, as Shawn Carter put it, “helping millions and millions of people.” This partnership is happening because Shawn Carter is a billionaire who wants to be an NFL owner, and erasing Colin Kaepernick is the price of admission. Now Shawn Carter gets to multiply his fortune, and the NFL believes they will no longer be branded as racist, or have to schedule skim-milk Super Bowl halftime shows headlined by Maroon 5.

Jay-Z is a boss. Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid are workers. It is the interest of workers in the NFL to unite and say that blackballing people for their political beliefs is never going to be OK. It is in the interest of workers to stand up for their colleague. It is in Shawn Carter’s interest to stand up for himself. It’s not “millions and millions” who are going to be helped. It’s one person. It’s Jay-Z’s ultimate hustle—a hustle he told us, over 20 years ago, we were never to knock.

And so the failure of either Dyson or CNN to inform the viewers that the guest has a conflict which might interfere with an objective analysis goes beyond transparency. It interferes with an understanding that the motives of the famous businessperson may go beyond the interplay of race and criminal justice and into the realm of the mundane. It may be simply the oldest motive of them all: looking out for #1.

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