When the Occupy Wall Street Movement kicked off September 17th, 2011, many thought it would be short lived and a waste of time. For awhile, the objectives, goals and demands of the protesters were unclear and many thought this this demonstration would pass over just like the other dozens of rallies happening across the United States.
No one could have predicted that occupying Wall Street would lead and inspire a mass Movement in almost every major city around the country and inspire revolts overseas.
I have paid close attention to Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Oakland and of course, Occupy Chicago, and here I witness a burning desire to eliminate economic disparities. The youth and elders of our generation have come together to take a stand against the 1% which are the elite, big banks, and corporations that hold the most wealth in this country.
I personally joined the Occupy Chicago movement because I believe that wealth should become more common, education should become more affordable and college grads should have more career opportunities. These are all obvious demands from my generation, however, I believe that the Movement is missing mainstream music that inspires and stands in solidarity with the protesters.
Very recently, Hip Hop mogul, Jay Z debuted a line of T-Shirts that possessed “Occupy All Streets” tag line and phrase. Many activists including myself viewed this as an exploitative effort to capitalize off the sentiment and emotions of the young people who are participating daily in the demonstrations. Jay Z is a very powerful and influential artist who hasn’t vocalized any sense of solidarity with any of the social movements that have launched this year alone. His clothing company, ROC A WEAR posted the shirts online and were selling them for $22 a shirt. None of the proceeds were going to be donated to the Movement, so the question is, why is Jay Z’s company promoting something that he doesn’t stand in solidarity with? In Jay Z’s lyrics he’s emphasized how wealthy he is “what’s 50 grand to a n***** like me? please remind me” (N***** In Paris). He and Kanye West even went so far to have a Maybach car burned in their music video “OTIS” to make the statement that ‘money ain’t a thang.’
I admire Jay Z’s success and how he made so much out of himself as a former drug dealer from Marcy Projects. However, I don’t think he is careful in considering the emotions of the 99% when he writes his lyrics nor burn luxury cars in his music videos. To wear a shirt that says “Occupy All Streets” which he debuted at his sold out concert with Kanye West at Madison Square Garden last week was as if he stood sympathetically with the protesters on Wall Street. However, releasing his line of T shirts demonstrated his true intent which is that he represents the 1%, and by any means necessary, he will attempt to profit off the 99% without even giving back to the Movement.
About 2 hours ago, a statement was just released and Jay Z has pulled the shirts off the market because of backlash from activists all around the country and publicly on twitter who exposed the supreme capitalist that he is.
For more information or to become involved: www.occupychi.org
@FMSupreme (twitter) to read today’s rant.