As Jay-Z might say, there’s “no church in the wild.” For that, you had to attend the rapper’s concert at Barclays Center in his native Brooklyn, New York, on Sunday.
Jay-Z turned part of the concert into a quasi-Sunday service, preaching about why protests that take place during the national anthem are not disrespectful to the flag ― and why it’s wrong to characterize them as such.
“Protesting, putting our fists in the air ― they have shit to do with the flag,” he told audience members. “It’s all about injustice. We standing up for injustice.”
President Donald Trump has voiced the opposite opinion, such as when he claimed on Friday that the wave of athletic protests against police brutality and systemic racism ― a movement sparked by former San Francisco 49ers star Colin Kaepernick ― disrespects the red, white and blue.
Perhaps as a response, Jay-Z began his night at Barclays by repeating the phrase “love trumps hate,” and doubled down on statements he’s made elsewhere during his 4:44 Tour, reiterating that the protests are addressing a human issue.
“Young men — young black men — are dying, and it’s not even a black and white issue,” he said. “It’s a human issue. If a young 16-year-old child leaves the house and never comes back, everybody in here should be affected ― black, white, short, tall, whomever. Everybody should be affected, because that’s a young life that was cut short.”
“That person could’ve been the next Barack Obama. That person could’ve been the next Muhammad Ali, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera,” he went on. “So that’s a human issue.”
The rapper has been a staunch supporter of Kaepernick and the protests inspired by him, even wearing a jersey of the former quarterback during a “Saturday Night Live” appearance in September.
Jay-Z continued addressing the crowd Sunday night, saying that black people “in particular” need to come together to support each other.
“We’re not second-class citizens to anybody,” he said. “We some of the most beautiful, flyest, motherfucking smartest [people] on this whole planet. Real talk. Tonight we gonna celebrate that black excellence.”
The rapper then introduced “Ni**as In Paris” by reminding everyone how “two young men” ― that is, he and Kanye West ― wound up in France making the song.
“We’re not second-class citizens to anybody,” he said.