Despite the fact that rapper Jay-Z has signed a lucrative contract with the NFL, the league that tries diligently to appeal to fans’ patriotism, that didn’t stop him and his wife Beyonce from remaining seated during the singing of the national anthem at the Super Bowl on Sunday.
While Demi Lovato stood on the field to sing the anthem, the couple sat while others stood. Just one day before the Super Bowl, The New York Times published an interview with Jay-Z in which he defended his partnership with the NFL from critics, including Eric Reid, a safety for the Carolina Panthers who joined former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in a lawsuit against the NFL. Reid called the deal between Jay-Z’s company, Roc Nation, and the NFL “kind of despicable.”
That deal, wrote the Times, “gives Jay-Z influence over the league’s most important music events, including the halftime show.” Shakira, who performed at the Super Bowl, is a client of Roc Nation.
Jay-Z commented about the criticism he had received, “As long as real people are being hurt and marginalized and losing family members, then yes, I can take a couple rounds of negative press.” He said of the NFL and Kaepernick, whom he has defended before, “No one is saying he hasn’t been done wrong. He was done wrong. I would understand if it was three months ago. But it was three years ago and someone needs to say, ‘What do we do now — because people are still dying?’”
He added of Kaepernick, “We are two adult men who disagree on the tactic but are marching for the same cause.”
Things were a little different in 2013, apparently, as Beyonce felt others should stand during the national anthem when she performed it. After Beyonce was slammed for allegedly lipsyncing when performing the national anthem at Barack Obama’s inauguration on January 21, 2013, she defended herself a week later at a press conference in New Orleans to preview her Super Bowl halftime show. As The Washington Post reported, “ … the superstar began with an unusual request of reporters: ‘Would you guys mind standing?’ And then she sang the National Anthem — live, unaccompanied, and loud. ‘Any questions?’ she asked.”
In December 2017, Beyonce presented Kaepernick with the the Muhammad Ali Legacy Award at the annual Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Awards ceremony, saying, “It feels so good to be here on such a special night of appreciation. Thank you, Colin Kaepernick. Thank you for your selfless heart and your conviction. Thank you for your personal sacrifice. Colin took action with no fear of consequence or repercussion — only hope to change the world for the better, to change perception, to change the way we treated each other, especially people of color. We are still waiting for the world to catch up.”
As Buzzfeed News reported, she continued, “It’s been said that racism is so American, that when we protest racism, some assume we are protesting America. So, let’s be very clear: Colin has always been very respectful of the individuals who selflessly serve and protect our country and our communities and our families. His message is solely focused on social injustice for historically disenfranchised people. Let’s not get that mistaken.”