Jay-Z says he wasn’t protesting when he sat during the national anthem at the Super Bowl.
While speaking Tuesday at Columbia University, the rap mogul was asked if the fact that he, Beyoncé and their daughter Blue Ivy were sitting during "The Star-Spangled Banner" was to “convey a signal.” He said no, he was just working — as his company Roc Nation served as the NFL’s “live music entertainment strategist” for the event, overseeing the performances.
"It actually wasn't. Sorry,” Jay-Z (real name: Shawn Carter) said. “It was not premeditated at all.”
He said that he and Beyoncé “immediately jumped into artist mode as the festivities on the field kicked off. “Did I tell you Yolanda Adams came to perform?’ ... We’re talking. Now I’m really just looking at the show. So I’m looking at the show. Did our mic start? Was it too low to start? We added a bunch of sound... ‘[Are there] too many speakers on the floor? ... So the whole time we’re sitting there and we’re talking about the performance.”
“Demi comes out, and we’re talking about how beautiful she looked and how she sound[ed], and what she’s going through in her life for her to be on the stage and we’re so proud of her,” he said.
When Lovato finished, Jay’s phone rang and the caller, whom he didn’t identify, said, “‘You know you didn’t just [stand].’ I’m like: What?”
He said that they wouldn’t have protested anyway with their eldest of three kids, 8-year-old Blue, sitting with them.
“We wouldn’t do that to Blue and put her in that position,” he said.
Jay then went on to joke about how she wouldn’t be at ease doing that anyway, saying, "If anyone knows Blue... if we told her we were gonna do something like that, you would have seen her tapping me 100 times. She’s the kid that gets in the car and closes the door and says, ‘We there yet, Daddy?’ So she would say, ‘What time? Are we doing it?’"
He went on to say that he didn’t have to make a “silent protest” anyway because they made "the biggest, loudest protest of all" by selecting that diverse group of artists, including the half-time show stars Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, who stole the show.
Further, Lopez’s performance included a big protest by having kids in cages, a statement about immigration.
Jay-Z and Beyoncé faced crushing criticism for not standing up during the anthem. They were called “spoiled” and “un-American.” Social media commenters flooded her Instagram page with negative comments.
Meanwhile, supporters of Colin Kaepernick — who took a knee during the anthem at football games to protest the mistreatment of black Americans, leading to him losing his quarterback job — didn’t exactly embrace it either when it was thought to be a protest.
That’s because Jay-Z faced criticism for partnering with the NFL in the first place, despite the role also being about working with the league on social justice outreach and causes. And just ahead of the Super Bowl, Jay-Z talked about how the protest in general has “moved past kneeling,” which Kaepernick seemingly responded to with a reposted Instagram.
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