TICKER: Obama compares himself to Jay-Z, but what do they really have in common?

Obama was all smiles while schmoozing 100 donors at Jay-Z’s 40/40 on West 25th Street, where  supporters paid $40,000 a plate for the privilege of getting within arms length of President Obama.



“Let me just begin by saying to Jay and Bey, thank you so much for your friendship. We are so grateful. Michelle and Malia and Sasha are mad at me because they are not here,” Mr. Obama said. “That doesn’t usually happen. Usually they’re like, we’re glad you’re going–we don’t need to go. But every time they get a chance to see these two they are thrilled, partly because they are just both so generous, particularly to my kids. And Malia and Sasha just love both of them.”

Jay and Bey? 

President Obama went on to gush over Beyonce’, saying  she “couldn’t be a better role model for our daughters because she carries herself with such class and poise.”

“Jay-Z now knows, you know, what my life is like,” the president said. “We both have daughters. And our wives are more popular than we are.” He turned to Jay-Z, concluding, ”So– you know. So we’ve got a little bond there. It’s hard, but it’s OK.”

Obama also noted that he and Jay-Z came from humble beginnings, which is an odd comparison, considering Mr. Obama spent much of his life in private schools. How does living a charmed life in Kansas or Indonesia compare with selling crack in New York?

It is worth considering that the lumping together of disparate African-Americans under the guise of sameness is a big deal. Outside of both men beginning life with the disadvantage of being black, they couldn’t have less in common, but we’re supposed to see their blackness as a singular unifying quality? Why? And to what end?

Going to a fundraiser thrown by hip-hop’s elite is fine, I guess (I’m still wrestling with the ethics of it), but Obama shouldn’t pretend that he and Jay are boyz. This isn’t about that. This is about money.

It’s sort of like how when you go onto a mostly white college campus, the first white person you encounter asks you if you know a girl named Shanika, because she’s black like you. It’s not just that you don’t know Shanika, you don’t even know if you’d be friends with Shanika if you met her, because black people have varied interests and idiosyncrasies. So this Obama-Jay-Z bromance has that same sort of feel, like ‘we’re black, so we automatically have stuff in common, ya know?’ No. I don’t know. And I don’t know Shanika either.

Kulture Kritic

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