In an interview with the New York Times over the weekend, hip-hop mogul Jay-Z basically flip flopped on Occupy Wall St, saying he’s not in favor of OWS because he doesn’t understand it, even though his company, Rocawear, tried to capitalize off the movement. Now Russell Simmons, who supports OWS, is taking Jigga to task, going so far as to pen an open letter to Jay-Z explaining why he’s wrong about the OWS movement.
Here’s a snippet from the Simmons letter, entitled Jay-Z is Right 99 Times, But This Ain’t One: So, Jay, here’s the deal. You’re rich and I’m rich. But, today it’s close to impossible to be you or me and get out of Marcy Projects or Hollis, Queens without changing our government to have our politicians work for the people who elect them and not the special interests and corporations that pay them. Because we know that these special interests are nothing special at all. In fact, they spend millions of dollars destroying the fabric of the black community and make billions of dollars in return. For example, the prison lobby paid politicians to create a so-called “War On Drugs” that resulted in a prison economy that disproportionately locks up black and brown people, including many of your friends and mine.
Simmons goes on to credit Occupy Wall Street with changing the trajectory of the political conversation in this country: Within the first weeks of OWS, the conversation had been changed to the real issue that is eroding America; economic inequality, a topic that hasn’t been discussed for decades.
Russell Simmons deserves credit for standing up on behalf of principle on this issue. Jay-Z could understand OWS if he cared enough to engage and listen, but he doesn’t. Maybe he’ll care enough to listen to what Simmons has to say.